I know, the classic “game” of golf is 18 holes. But, sometimes we just don’t have enough time in our increasingly hectic lives to fit 18 in, especially on the weekends when a round might take five hours or more.
The best aspect of playing nine holes is that you can fit two- or two-and-a-half-hour round (less if you’re lucky) easily into a busy day. The USGA has caught on. Its “Play 9” campaign is aimed at potential players who don’t have the time or inclination to play a full round.
Let’s take a look at where you can play some golf and get your fix with no guilt, thanks to Golfing Magazine‘s Course Play Stimulus Program.
First we start in Massachusetts.
Dunroamin Golf Course (www.DunroaminCC.com) in Gilbertsville is a picturesque course that, as the owners and managers say, will allow you to focus on your golf game and leave the distractions of life behind. You will be able to test your abilities on a course that is fairly open but has its share of challenges and large Vesper Velvet Bent greens. The course is relatively short, with four par-fours that measure around 300 yards, but accuracy with your irons and putting ability are a must.
Greenock Country Club (www.GreenockCC.com) in Lee was established as one of America’s first courses, dating back to 1895. Redesigned in 1927 by the legendary golf architect Donald Ross, the 9-hole course has stood the test of time, a masterpiece of craftsmanship and original style. The club is located just one mile from exit 2 off Interstate 90, within minutes of the historic town of Stockbridge, and just a few short miles from Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The sixth hole is a risk-reward par-five, measuring only 465 yards, but there is water left and right of the green if you are thinking about going for it in two.
Unicorn Golf Course
(www.UnicornGC.com) in Stoneham has an interesting history. It was originally designed as an 18-hole private golf course. The layout was crafted by the renowned architectural firm of Wayne Stiles and John Van Kleek, and covered portions of the towns of Stoneham and Woburn. In 1972, the town of Stoneham purchased the property within Stoneham and redesigned the course to play as a nine-hole course now known as Unicorn. The course traverses a hilltop piece of land, with some holes playing out in the open, and others surrounded by huge old oak trees lining its fairways.
Worthington Golf Club (www.WorthingtonGC.net) is actually a 10-hole course with small sloping greens and tight tree- lined fairways, with a well-placed creek, thick rough and 15 strategically placed bunkers. It provides a challenge for the low handicappers, as well as an enjoyable round for the recreational golfer. A hilltop location offers expansive views of the hills to the east and south.
While an 18-holer we include Rockland Golf Course (www.RocklandgGC.com) in Rockland because you can be fit it into a busy day with ease, as it contains all par-threes. The course was carved out of a piece of land featuring tall oaks and rock outcroppings lining some fairways. Due to its friendly layout, the course also provides an ideal learning environment for the beginner golfer, while presenting a challenge to even the most skilled player due to the beefy length of some of its holes.
The Blandford Club ((413-848-2443) in Blandford, Ma. is a delightful nine-hole layout nestled in the scenic hills of the western portion of the Commonwealth State. Only 2,722 yards from the tips and playing to a par of 35, this a fun track for all level of players. The course is one of the oldest in the region, having opened in 1910. It was designed by William Dexter.
The Meadows Golf Club (www.MeadowsGolf.com) in Deerfield is a popular nine-hole course believed to have opened sometime in the 1930’s and designed and built by Knappy Greenwood. The surroundings at Meadows GC makes for an aesthetically pleasing round, and the holes are routed through a slightly undulating area adjacent to the Deerfield and Green Rivers. The course plays to a length of 2,800 yards, is a par-36, and has a USGA course rating of 66.5 and slope rating of 104.
Cohasse Country Club (www.Cohasse.com) is located less than two miles south from the center of Southbridge. The track was designed by Donald Ross in 1916 and plays 3,061 yards with a par of 35. Known for outstanding conditions and greens that roll true, the course is challenging and at the same time fair and rewarding of good shots. The first hole is a tough, 410-yard par-four and the fifth is a great, short par-four that plays 327 yards and doglegs sharply to the left.
Pinecrest Golf Club (www.PinecrestRI.com) in Carolina, R.I. is a sweet nine-hole gem of a golf course. The course is kept in splendid condition, and the routing is fun and challenging at the same time. While not overly long, Pinecrest is fairly tight and has several doglegs and uphill shots that complicate navigation.
Rose Hill Golf Club (401-798-1088) in South Kingstown, R.I. is a par-three layout in that has holes ranging from 118 to 218 yards. You can play nine in an hour and 18 in perhaps less than two hours. The course is well maintained. Three holes, the second, fourth and fifth, play across water and test your nerves.
Brookstone Golf and Driving Range (www.Brookstone-Golf.com) in Derry, N.H. is the state’s premier nine-hole, par-three golf facility. The routing was created by noted golf architect, Howard Maurer, who worked to preserve the natural characteristics of the site. The course features large greens, sand traps, rolling hills and water hazards that are strategically placed to create “target style” greens.
Swinging down into Connecticut, Green Woods Country Club Winsted, Ct. (www.GreenWoodsCC.net) is a former private track that went semi-private a half dozen years or so ago. Thus, the conditions are very good, even on this early season day. Typical of the old nine-hole courses in New England (Greenwoods was built over 100 years ago, the layout is on the short side, with small, tricky greens as its only defense in these days of powerful drivers and juiced golf balls.
Walking onto The Hotchkiss School Golf Course (www.Hotchkiss.org) in Lakeville, Ct. is akin to stepping back in time, that is, from a golfer’s viewpoint. The course is located on the grounds of a prestigious private school, and is virtually untouched since it opened in 1924.The course was originally built Seth Raynor, one of the legendary names of American golf course architecture. Raynor’s’ work was routed over the existing terrain, which makes for mounding in the fairways and sometimes wildly undulating greens, as well as deep greenside bunkers that make navigation a challenge.
Canaan Country Club (www.CanaanCC.com) in Canaan is a scenic routing in the northwest hills of Connecticut The par-35 course, which borders the Blackberry River and crosses over wetlands, has several holes that feature a picturesque view of Canaan Mountain. The par three eighth, which plays from 170 to 210 yards depending upon tee placement, has made several “Ten Toughest Par 3’s in Connecticut” lists over the years. It plays over a deep gully to an elevated green. The green is deep, so a back pin placement adds 10 to 15 yards to the shot. There’s OB left, but a bailout to the right is possible, which leaves a finesse pitch shot to the green.
Eastwoods Country Club (www.EastwoodsCountryClub.com) in Torrington is a great place for beginners and accomplished players alike. The layout plays to around 3,000 yards from the tips and features one of the toughest par-fives in the state. The 564-yard ninth hole demands a right to left tee shot that must steer clear of trees on both sides. The second shot is uphill and needs to clear a pond to set up a mid-iron approach to a table top green.
Copper Hill Golf Club (www.CopperHillGolf.com) in East Granby is a very good test of golf, with a nice mix of short and long par-fours, two very demanding par-threes, and two par-fives that are reachable in two for long hitters. Copper Hill measures 3,030 yards and has two par-fives, the 473-yard fourth and 459-yard eighth, that are reachable in two for the big hitters, and a cool par-four, the fifth, measuring 265 yards, where you can drive the green.
Pomperaug Golf Course (www.PomperaugGolfClub.com) is a little gem located near the Pomperaug River in Southbury. The course isn’t long but there is water on every hole, which can play havoc with your tee and approach shots to the modest-sized greens. Number nine is a good, short par-four. The drive must lay up before the river to set up a wedge across the water to a very wide green. Get too greedy if the pin is tucked up front and you might fall back into the river.
Brooklyn Country Club (www.BrooklynGolfCourse.com) in Brooklyn is a sweet little gem of a course set amid a picturesque surroundings. The layout measures 2,783 yards and has several short par-fours that can be reached with a lusty drive, including the 250-yard fifth. But a pond must be cleared to reach the putting surface.
Suffield Country Club (www.SuffieldCC.com) in Suffield was founded in 1927 and was designed by Ian Smyth. Considering a low slope rating, there are challenges throughout the course, especially on and around the greens. The private course is suitable for all levels of golf and presents a challenge for even the finest golfer. Suffield has hosted qualifying events for the CSGA and various CWGA one day events. The course plays around 3,000 yards and has a par of 36.
The par-three ninth hole at Vineyard Valley Golf Club (www.VineyardValleyGolfClub.com) in Pomfret is one of the coolest short holes in the region and is northeast Connecticut’s answer to the famous island green at TPC Sawgrass in Florida. Playing anywhere from 110 to 160 yards, the green is fronted by a marsh that has been the end of many a good score. If you’re even a foot shy of landing on the green your destiny is a double bogey at best.
Minnechaug Golf Course (www.MinnechaugGolf.com) in Glastonbury offers excellent conditions and a fun test of golf. It also has one of the few true island greens in New England, the 126-yard eighth, which some consider to be the first of its kind in the nation. Graham Clark did the original routing for the course, and Al Zikorus and William F. Mitchell undertook some redesigns years later.
Historic Woodstock Golf Course (www.WoodstockGC.com), situated in Woodstock is one of the oldest nine-hole layouts in the state. Originally built in 1896, Woodstock celebrated its 100th birthday more than a decade ago. The course is a modest 2,397 yards in length, providing golfers of all skill levels with the opportunity for a fun, relaxing and enjoyable round of golf. The track features narrow, tree-lined scenic fairways. Small greens present a challenge to all golfers. With only one moderate hill, the course is relatively flat and is quite easy to walk. It’s a natural for seniors and juniors.