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John Torsiello
By John Torsiello
Published on 09/2/2005
Golf in Plymouth, Massachusetts

Birdies and the Mayflower Mix Nicely in Plymouth, Mass.

With the high cost of gasoline and fears over flying continuing to cause a bit of alarm among us all, regional vacation destinations continue to become more appealing alternatives to long-distance travel.

For New England golfers one of the closest, most unique and best golf destinations has become the historic area of Plymouth, Mass. That’s right, the place where the Pilgrims jumped off the Mayflower and helped launch what turned out to be a pretty impressive country.

While there probably weren’t any golfers among the Mayflower bunch, their little bit of paradise has turned into quite the golf haven. There are almost a dozen public courses in the greater Plymouth area, most of which are located a short drive from one anther.

And for after golf or for those among the group who don’t swing a club in earnest, Plymouth offers all sorts of sightseeing options. From a replica of the Mayflower and the famous Plymouth Rock to quaint shops and wonderful restaurants, this little town by the ocean can sustain visitors for a week and beyond. And let’s not forget superb beaches and ideal seacoast weather.

A number of new layouts, such as the nationally acclaimed Waverly Oaks Golf Club, Pinehills Golf Club, Southers Marsh Golf Club and Crosswinds Golf Club, have opened in recent years, adding to an already impressive portfolio of courses located within a few long tee shots of one another. In Plymouth County, there are a total of 26 golf courses and Cape Cod is just a hop across one of the bridges to the south.

“What we are most pleased about is that our area is not just golf but has so many other things to do,” said Paula Fisher, director of marketing for the Plymouth County Development Council Convention and Visitors Bureau. “At so many golf destinations it is just golf. But we have so much for the family to do here it really is an ideal place for a long vacation.”

Although there are few, if any, golf packages available in Plymouth it isn’t difficult to set up tee times at the public courses in the area and book a room at the area’s hotels, inns and charming bed and breakfast establishments. Visitors can stay at one of the hotels or inns in town and be at the first tee of some of the best courses in New England in a few minutes.

With the new and challenging courses coming to Plymouth in the last few years it’s hard to know where to start with this new and growing golf destination. Waverly Oaks features an 18-hole championship course and an-hole “challenger” course. (By the way, the Waverly Grille has a reputation as one of the finest restaurants in Plymouth.) Atlantic Country Club offers amenities you would expect from a private country club, Pinehills Golf Club has two championship layouts, and Crosswinds is known as Plymouth’s hometown golf course.

So let’s take a closer look at the golf courses making the land the Pilgrims settled known as much for birdies and lush fairways as for stove pipe hats and Thanksgiving.

Waverly Oaks is a challenging and scenic layout that is impeccably manicured, with wide, forgiving fairways and Tour quality greens. There’s an 18-hole championship tract and a nine-hole “challenger” course. The layouts here embody many of the classic designs associated with some of the most famous courses in the country and feature dramatic elevation changes. The championship 18 measures 7,114 yards for the tips, but has several teeing areas to meet the playing abilities of all golfers.
The commitment at Waverly is to always provide an extraordinary experience at an exceptional value. The club prides itself on delivering great customer service from the first phone call to the day’s end walk to the car.

Waverly Oaks has a number of superb holes, including possibly the most difficult and imposing par-three in New England--or anywhere else for that matter. It’s 251 yards from the tips and the tee shot is to an elevated green. You had better hit it true. Balls short tumble down into a monstrous sand trap that sits some 30 feet below the putting surface.

Number four on the front side is a relatively short (529 yards) par-five. Big hitters can think about going for the green in two. But there’s a pond guarding the front of the green.
Just down the road from Waverly Oaks, Pinehills Golf Club, opened in 2001, has won rave reviews for its Rees Jones and Jack Nicklaus layouts. Both courses are kept in immaculate condition and present challenging yet fair tests for golfers of all abilities.

The 15th hole on the Jones Course is one of the most visually dramatic in New England. It demands a well-struck shot from an elevated tee box over a stand of trees and native shrub growth below. Traps guard the landing area of this par-five, and bunkers protect the approach to the green.

The Nicklaus Course measures a whopping 7,243 yards from the tips and features as good a finishing hole as you will find anywhere. It’s a 476-yard, par-four that demands a booming tee shot and a steady second shot to a green guarded by water to the left. The 15th hole is a classic, 189-yard par three that calls for a mid or long iron across a natural area to a wide green.
Pinehills also has extensive practice facilities.

Atlantic Country Club is another well-conditioned, fun layout that plays more difficult than its 6,728 yards. There are a number of fine holes here. Number 15, a short, 373-yard par-four, is a splendid dogleg left that calls for a well placed tee shot followed by an accurate approach to a small green guarded by a large pond to the left.

Great finishing holes must have a prerequisite for the designers of Plymouth’s golf courses, and Atlantic also has one. The 18th is a 409-yard par-four that calls for a nerves-of-steel second shot that must clear a pond guarding the front of an elevated green. Throw a good shot onto the green and the crowd on the clubhouse veranda might give you an ovation.

Atlantic Country Club, a Cornish, Silva and Mungeum design, also has a fine practice facility and full-service restaurant.
Crosswinds Golf Club may be perhaps the most scenic of the Plymouth layouts. It was built on hilly, heavily wooded land. Care was taken to preserve as much of the natural charm of the site as possible.

Crosswinds, which plays a beefy 7,056 yards from the tips, starts off with a superb, 546-yard par-five that works its way uphill to a small green. The next hole is a 400-yard par-four that features a spectacular view of the fairway from an elevated tee.

The signature hole at Crosswinds is the 187-yard par-three eighth. It’s an excellent three par that calls for a tee shot over water to a slightly elevated green. It’s a visually stunning hole that grabs the golfer when he or she exits the woods after the seventh hole.

If you want a different golfing experience then check out Southers Marsh Golf Club. At 4,111 yards from the back tees, the par-61 layout is the longest and certainly one of the most challenging executive courses in New England. It’s also the most unique. The course was built in a 100-year-old working cranberry bog. The bogs come into play on several holes, including a 363-yard front side par-four that requires two carries from the back tees.

The course moves from the cranberry bogs into a wooded stretch of holes before finishing back among the bogs. It’s only for a few days, but when the flooded bogs become bright red with succulent cranberries in autumn, Southers Marsh may be the most spectacular setting for golf in the country. There’s a practice range, and for apres golf, a full-service restaurant with a mahogany deck overlooking the course and bogs. The staff is smiling and prices are more than affordable for such a unique golfing experience.

Widow’s Walk Golf Course in nearby Scituate is a links-type course that winds its way through environmentally sensitive land. The tract meanders through wetlands and sand dunes, and the designers fit the holes in seamlessly with the natural landscape.
Widow’s Walk measures only 6,403 yards from the tips, but there are a number of forced carries and demanding approach shots. There’s also a prevailing wind off the ocean that often comes into play.

The number one stroke hole at Widow’s Walk, built in 1997, is the 507-yard par-five sixth. It’s a slight dogleg to the right that demands two lusty shots to reach the putting surface in two. There are several short par-fours that appear easier than they play, as well as tricky par-threes where trouble lurks all around.

Bay Pointe Country Club is just outside of Plymouth in Onset, however this gem is a must play. Bay Pointe Country Club, designed by Geoffrey Cornish was built in the late 60’s and might be described as a typical Cape Cod layout. Bay Pointe possesses the unique collection of 19 holes and two distinct clubhouses ~ The Golf House and The Pavilion.

Playing to a par-70, the overall yardage may appear comparatively short on the card (6201 from Blue Tees), but it plays substantially longer. The terrain is generally gentle, apart from holes #1 and #2 which challenge golfers beginning their round on the hilliest portion of the grounds. The greens on the course are elevated and tree lined fairways contain many bunkers. The signature hole is #7, a 101-yard, par 3, requiring a shot to an island green surrounded by sand bunkers.

Squirrel Run Country Club in Plymouth is an 18-hole “executive” style course that measures 2,859 yards and plays to a par of 57. Although short, the course offers some superb par-threes, including the 192-yard 14th where the tee shot must avoid a large tree near the green. Water can be found on four holes and there are numerous greenside bunkers.