Eastern Massachusetts offers a plethora of great daily fee golf courses. Here are some you can enjoy this summer and fall.
New to the line-up is Heritage Country Club (www.HeritageCountryClub.com) in Charlton has long been a favorite of locals and those golfers who like to throw their sticks in the trunk and drive a bit to play a real good course. Heritage offers private club conditions and amenities at affordable rates.
There is a mix of holes at Heritage CC that will keep you entertained through your entire round. Some of the fairways are rather tight, so accuracy is called for off the tee to get you involved in the hole from the tee box. The layout starts off in stern fashion, with a pair of fairly long par-fours followed by a 200-yard par-three where par is a good score indeed. The fourth is a 452-yard par-five that is reachable in two shots for long hitters.
Crystal Lake Golf Club (www.CrystalLake-Golf.com) in Haverhill, located only 35 minutes from downtown Boston. The course offers some of the finest rolling bent grass greens in the area, lush wide fairways, light rough, manicured bunkers, rolling tree-lined terrain, and a well-thought out design by Geoffrey Cornish.
Crystal Lake provides a fun, yet challenging round of golf that will be played under four and half hours on weekends. Every club in your bag will be used and a memorable golf experience is guaranteed. Acquired by Sterling Golf Management in 2018, Crystal Lake Golf Club continues to provide guests and members with a unique golf experience.
Close to “Beantown” you will find Newton Commonwealth Golf Course (www.SterlingGolf.com), an exceptionally groomed course that was opened in 1907 and redesigned in 1920 by Donald Ross. The layout offers a short but challenging round of golf, featuring quick greens and relatively narrow fairways.
Course management is essential, as many a big hitter has discovered, with water and sand bunkers scattered about. The sixth hole, a 276-yard par-four, can be reached by the longest of hitters, but a narrow fairway slopes severely from left to right, and the hole features the most difficult green on the course. There is no such thing as a “straight putt” on the multi-sloped and undulating green.
Norwood Country Club (www.SterlingGolf.com) is a decidedly fun and interesting layout to play for players of all skills. Designed by Sam Mitchell, built by Frank Simoni and opened in 1975, Norwood Country Club is one of the best kept golf secrets in the area.
A par-71, 5,630-yard layout, the track has fairly flat terrain with medium size, well-manicured greens. The course features a number of short par-fours and reachable-in-two par-fives, but don’t let its overall short length fool you, as it has enough bite to keep even the best players on their toes.
Established in 1936, Gardner Municipal Golf Course (www.GardnerGolfCourse.com) is an 18-hole facility featuring outstanding conditions and excellent greens. Four sets of tees meet the playing abilities of all golfers. Beginners can shorten the course to a playable 4,898 yards, or you can challenge yourself and step back to the tips (par-71, 6131 yards).
Bedrock Golf Club (www.BedRockGolfClub.com) in Rutland is a nine-hole course operated by the Carr Family. Former PGA Tour Professional and current PGA of America member Joe Carr has served as Bedrock’s Golf Professional since the club’s inception in 1992. This is a scenic course carved through the woods, and has a fully stocked pro shop, a practice putting green, and the “Back Nine Pub”, a full service bar and grille. The course plays 3,463 yards from the longest tees and was designed by Bill Greene and Joe Carr.
Ellinwood Country Club (www.EllinwoodGolf.com) in Athol was opened in 1929. The original Donald Ross design consisted of nine holes. With the help of local and renowned designer Geoffrey Cornish, Ellinwood grew to 18 holes in 1965, and Cornish carefully shaped and placed nine new holes in and around the existing nine. The 10th is a brutal par-three that plays 225 yards from the tips and demands a fairway wood from even the best places to find the green.
Pine Ridge Golf Club (www.pineridgegolf.net), located just south of Worcester in North Oxford, is a shot-maker’s delight, with several drivable par-fours, reachable-in-two par-fives, and tough par-threes that demand sound club selection and pinpoint accuracy. A pleasingly eclectic mixture of relatively easy and demanding holes can be found right out of the box. The first is a 308-yard par-four; number two is a short, 150-yard par-three; the third is a beefy, 202-yard par-three; and the fifth is a demanding, 403-yard par-four.
Maplegate Country Club (www.MapleGate.com), located in a scenic, quiet area near Bellingham and Franklin, features a challenging 6,815-yard, well-conditioned layout that hosted U.S. Open qualifiers in 1998 and 2001. The course has a great mix of holes; from short par-fours that may be drivable by big hitters to difficult fours.
Water comes into play on a number of holes and makes tee shots and approaches to the rather large and undulating greens occasionally dicey. The par-five fourth hole is only 522 yards from the back tees. But the lay-up must be hit as close to a pond as possible if you entertain any thoughts of getting on in two shots. Number five, a 431-yard par-four, has water running across its fairway and a fairway bunker guarding the right side of the landing area.
Blackstone National Golf Club (www.BlackstoneGolfClub.com) in Sutton was designed by noted architect Rees Jones, and is tucked into the wooded countryside of the Blackstone Valley area of southeastern part of the Bay State. Blackstone National, which can stretch to almost 7,000 yards from the tips and plays to a par of 72, has some good short holes.
One of the most stunning par-threes is the 173-yard 11th, which demands a tee shot over a small pond. The par-fours are solid and can be tough, like the 486-yard 15th for example. It bends to the left after a large ridge that cuts across the fairway. Hit a tee shot to the right side of the fairway and the ball will tumble down a hill and shorten the hole by 50 to 100 yards.
Blissful Meadows Golf Club (www.BlissfulMeadows.com) in Uxbridge is a Geoffrey Cornish and Brian Silva design and winds its way through mature stands of tree. The course plays around 6,700 yards from the tips. Surrounded by the aforementioned woods as well as open meadows, the course presents a secluded golfing experience.
The front nine is more open than the back, which features several dramatic elevation changes and two of the best par-threes you’ll find anywhere. The conditions are always very good. The opening hole is a 353-yard par-four that demands a precise downhill tee shot to find a fairway that bends slightly to the left. The approach is to an elevated green with bunkers guarding the right side.
The varied natural topography of Wentworth Hills Golf Club (www.WentworthHillsGolf.com) in Plainville presents a beautiful round of golf, with rolling, tree-lined fairways, large, receptive greens, ponds and lakes protecting holes, and 60 strategically-placed bunkers. Designed by Howard Maurer, the 18-hole, par-71, 6,202-yard layout offers multiple tees to accommodate golfers of all skill levels. Classic risk/reward decisions dare low-handicappers to “go for it,” and all holes allow alternate routes for less experienced golfers.
Heather Hill Country Club (www.HeatherHillCountryClub.com) in Plainville offers one regulation 18-hole course and one nine-hole course. The North Course (nine holes) has a few hills that can cause uneven lies. The fairways are narrow, and the greens are small. The South Course (18 holes) has many more hills than the North Course, but doesn’t have a lot of sand bunkers. The fairways are wide open, but most are tree lined, so you just can’t spray it around and get away with it. The greens are large, and water hazards come into play on three holes.
The 18-hole course plays around 6,000 yards from the tips and has a mix of short- and medium-length par-fours, tricky par-threes, and two par-fives that can reached in two shots by big hitters. The back side has three short par-fours that allow you a real chance at birdie, the 334-yard 13th, the 317-yard 14th, and the final hole, a 317-yarder. Number 12 is a good par-five that plays 516 yards from the tips, with the hole doglegging to the right, which may demand a precise layup shot to set up a wedge approach.
Thanks to Golfing Magazine’s fabulous “Free Golf” subscription offer you’ll get a complimentary, or greatly discounted, round on the following layouts. Check out the details of this offer in this issue, call 860-563-1633, or visit www.FreeGolf.net to sign up. There is lots of time to enjoy all the courses on our list.