Western Massachusetts is home to some of the best courses the Bay State has to offer. The area, which includes the Berkshires hills and the scenic Pioneer Valley, is a great area to spend a day playing nine or 18 holes, or even making a week’s vacation out of it and sample a number of courses. After or before golf you can spend a few hours visiting the villages and towns of the area, where you can discover fine restaurants and pubs, boutiques, museums, historic landmarks and hiking trails.
Thanks to Golfing Magazine’s comprehensive Course Play Stimulus Program, you can try out a number of courses in this area of Massachusetts. Check out the details of this can’t miss offer in this issue. Call 860-563-1633, or visit www.FreeGolf.net to sign up.
Greenock Country Club (www.GreenockCC.com) in Lee dates back to 1895. Redesigned in 1927 by the legendary golf architect Donald Ross, the nine-hole course is an example 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 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.
Cold Spring Country Club (www.ColdSpringCC.com) is an 18-hole semi-private course located about midway between Springfield and Worcester in Belchertown. Designed by Mary Armstrong, completed in 2010 and opened for play in 2012, Cold Spring Country Club is a par-71 course with 6,521 yards set on rolling hills that boast of vistas in nearly every direction. Each hole has up to five sets of tees, enabling golfers of all levels to play an exciting mix of six par-threes, seven par-fours and five par-fives. It all starts with a tough 216-yard par-three. From the highest tee box on the course, enjoy a panoramic view of central Massachusetts facing south. Normally you will need one less club because of the steep drop, but watch the wind here. If prevailing winds are in player’s face it will require one or two more clubs. The trees on either side of the tee box will keep players honest, by making them hit down the chute. But there’s lots of wide open room the rest of the way.
Also in Belchertown you will find Mill Valley Golf Links (www.MillValleyGolfLinks.com), which features some of the toughest par-threes in the area, with one playing 240 yards from the back markers. There is a great mix of short and long par-fours and those tough par-threes, including the aforementioned fifth hole. The 468-yard par-four 14th demands two lusty shots to find the putting surface on the dogleg right hole. The layout ends with a long par-four, 422 yards, and a short four par, the 323-yard 18th, where a birdie will be a nice way to finish a round.
Gardner Municipal Golf Course (www.gardnergolfcourse.com) is considered one of the “hidden gems” of the region. The layout is nestled compactly along the shores of Crystal Lake on the north side of the city, and offers challenging approach shots due to its small, fast greens. Several of the holes, the 311-yard par-four 10th and 480-yard par-five 11th, play near Crystal Lake and afford golfers a nice moment of relaxation before tackling both.
Agawam Golf Course (www.AgawamGC.com) in Feeding Hills claims to be a “user friendly” track with a rolling terrain and undulating greens. The course can play anywhere from 4,658 to 5,679 yards. A number of the par-fours are reachable, or almost reachable, for big hitters and are present opportunities for birdie. The number one handicap hole is the fourth, a 430-yarder that plays as a par four or a five. As a four it’s a tough par, but as a five a birdie chance awaits.
The Ledges Golf Club (www.LedgesGC.com) in South Hadley is routed through woodlands and over and around wetlands and natural areas. You won’t find two holes alike and they range from long and difficult par-fours, like the 448-yard second, to the 106-yard par-three third, short par-fours, such as the back-to-back drivable 15th and 16th holes, long par-threes, and very good par-fives that range from 489 to 579 yards. You have to think your way around the track and proper placement off the tee will likely leave you with a very solid shot at making birdie, especially on the short par-fours. But wander with the driver and you’ll pay a steep price.
The Ranch Golf Club (www.TheRanchGolfClub.com) in Southwick is considered one of the top tracks in the state. The conditions are always top notch as is the routing. The 540-yard par-five ninth and 618-yard par-five 16th roll dramatically downhill and afford great views of the surrounding countryside. A well struck tee shot on the ninth will tumble down a hill and leave the player with a choice of either laying up for a short third shot, or going for the green in two by challenging a wetlands area in front of the putting surface. The 195-yard par-three 17th, which plays across water, is the best short hole on the track.
Chicopee Country Club (www.ChicopeeCountryClub.com) in Chicopee, with its rolling terrain, tree-lined fairway and fast, sloping greens is generally regarded as a fine championship course by area golfers. Through the years, this picturesque golf course has received accolades from publications such as Golf Digest, USA Today, and the New England Journal of Golf. It has been touted as being among the best public courses in Massachusetts, named one of New England’s top 100 golf courses, and among the courses that provide the best value in Massachusetts.
The setting is superb at the semi-private Crestview Country Club (www.CrestviewCC.org) in Agawam, which has a beautiful, quarter mile drive form the entrance to the course. A Geoffrey Cornish design, the course is challenging enough to have played host to the PGA Tour Travelers Championship Open Qualifier in 2015, the Connecticut Section PGA Championship in 2013, the LPGA Friendly’s Classic from 1995-1998, as well as several US Amateur qualifiers. A scenic collection of challenging par-threes await as you are guided through the meticulously maintained rolling fairways with a number of risk reward par-fours and par-fives. Big hitters can tee it up from as far back as 7,100 yards, with the red tees bringing that down to a very manageable 5,500.
Elmcrest Country Club (www.Elmcrestcc.com) is located in the quaint Town of East Longmeadow on the border of Somers, Connecticut. Rock walls, rustic bridges, and floral accents are just some of the allures of this classic New England course that winds through y wooded, rolling terrain and past ponds and streams. The design of this well-conditioned course makes for an enjoyable round for any level of player. The course has hosted the Joe Pagos Western Massachusetts Amateur Championship and MIAA Division I Golf Championships.
Wyckoff Country Club (www.WyckoffCountryClub.com) in Holyoke is an 18-hole, par 69, 6100-yard championship golf course built on the rolling property at the base of Mount Tom. Wyckoff has an interesting mix of holes; a number of short par–fours that can be attacked with a lusty drive and a short-iron or wedge to the putting surface, only two par-fives, one of which, the 478-yard 13th, can also yield birdie to long hitters that can reach the green in two, two par-fours that play over 400 yards from the tips, and several strong par-threes (there are five short holes in all on the layout). The 18th is perhaps the most difficult par-three and a cool way to finish a round. It’s a challenging 229 yards from the tips.
East Mountain Country Club (www.EastMountainCC.com) in Westfield was designed by owner Ted Perez, Sr., who wanted to have a course that is approachable for golfers of all skill levels and one that is fun to play. The layout measures around 6,200 yards from the tips and all but one of the par-fives is reachable in two by the big hitters. There are several short par-fours where birdie can be made, and a nice mix of holes on the back side, which has three par-threes, three par-fours, and three par-fives including back-to-backers at 11 and 12. The toughest hole on the course may be the 429-yard par four 16th. The club prides itself on the quality of its greens.
Wyndhurst Manor and Club (www.WyndhurstManorAndClub.com), located in Lenox, is a traditional New England course that is over 90 years old and designed by noted architects of the early 20th century, Wayne Stiles and John Van Kleek. The course features tree-lined fairways and naturally contoured greens that have been carefully preserved. The first three holes wander near a small clubhouse. The tee box on the third hole, a little 152-yarder, has a huge pine tree guarding the left side of the putting surface. The 11th is one of the course’s signature holes, a 200-yard par-three that plays from a chute of trees to a severely slopped green. Huge bunkers guard the putting surface.
The Crumpin-Fox Club (www.GolfTheFox.com) in Bernardston, 7,007 yards long from the tips and with a par of 72, is considered one of the most challenging tests of golfing ability in the Northeast. Many of the holes are tree-lined with ample bunking and enough water to create a few jangled nerves. The eighth hole is one of the best on the course. It begins from an elevated tee box and a lake plays a factor on the first, second and third shots, as it must be avoided and then cleared on any approach to a rather large green protected by bunkers.
Westfield’s Tekoa Country Club (www.TekoaCC.com), located in the scenic foothills of the Berkshire Hills, can trace its lineage back to Donald Ross. He laid out the original nine holes of Tekoa, and although only five of the original holes remain intact–the second, third, fourth, 14th and 15th–the owners of Tekoa have taken great care to insure Ross’s touch remains a big part of their course’s appeal. Gene Cornish, one of the most prolific of all New England architects, redesigned the course in 1961 and added 13 holes of his own to the present routing.
Shaker Farms Country Club (www.ShakerFarmsCC.com) in Westfield is a unique track that contains interesting holes. The front side has two great par-threes, the demanding 225-yard seventh and the 165-yard ninth, the latter playing across a small pond. The back side features a nice mix of holes. The 318-yard par-four 10th plays uphill from the fairway landing area. The 12th, a 144-yard par-three, has a green flanked by tall pines and is the first of two very pretty short holes on the side.
The Blandford Club (www.MassGolfTennis.com) is a nine-hole private layout. Only 2,722 yards from the tips and playing to a par of 35, this is a fun, playable track for all levels. Beginners will enjoy the friendliness of the routing and rather short overall distance, while more advanced players can work on their iron and short game skills. The course is one of the oldest in the region, having opened in 1910, and was designed by William Dexter.
Waubeeka Golf Links (www.Waubeeka.com) in South Williamstown is known for its stunning views. There have been renovations of the 1st, 2nd, 8th, 10th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 17th and 18th holes, which range from the addition of new tees and bunkers to completely new holes. Two of the best holes are the 11th, a 420-yard beast of a par-four that has a deep bunker to the right side of the green that makes getting up and down from there very difficult, and the 501-yard 17th, which has out-of-bounds the entire length along the right side and a lateral hazard almost all the way to the green on the left side.
Oak Ridge Golf Club (www.OakRidgeGC.com) in Feeding Hills is another approachable course for players of all skill levels. The 15th hole is a great par-four, playing as a dogleg right. Your tee shot must be hit as close to a pond as possible to leave a manageable approach shot over water to the green. The course hosts prominent tournaments and charity events each year. In addition to golf, Oak Ridge Golf Club offers an exceptional banquet facility.
Edgewood Golf Course (www.Edgewood4Golf.com) in Southwick is an 18-hole course in Southwick, at the foot of the Berkshire Hills. It’s a family and senior-friendly course. Geoffrey Cornish designed the course, and it measures 6,500 yards from the championship tees, with a par of 71. The course rating is 69.1, with a slope of 115. While the front nine gives one room to warm up because of its openness, the back side is carved out of woods and includes three scenic par threes.