After much play, analysis, a few memorable birdies and more than a few bogeys, Golfing Magazine’s Northeast Edition’s staff has come up with what we call our “Massachusetts Fab 18,” a compilation of what we feel are the best 18 holes at the state’s daily fee courses.
While many of our readers’ personal favorites may not have made the list we believe our course is very representative of the best the Bay State has to offer. The Fab 18 measures almost 7,200 yards and plays to a standard par of 72. There is an eclectic mix of holes, from a 251-yard par-three to a 323-yard par-four. The par-fives run the gamut, from a 485-yarder that can be reached in two to a 600-plus yard behemoth that perhaps Tiger Woods or John Daly can reach in two but few others.
We have designed a brutal stretch of holes on the back side that would test even the best players in the world, 12 through 15. The stretch starts with a 471-yard par-four and ends with a 251-yard par-three that some have called the most intimidating hole in Massachusetts.
Some of the biggest names in golf course architecture had a hand in our course, names like Rulewich, Fazio, Cornish, Rees Jones, Damian Pascuzzo and Robert Trent Jones, Jr. We selected no more than one hole from a course.
We’ve attempted to create a track that is challenging yet playable, one that demands that every club in the bag be hit with skill. The holes that make up our Fab 18 have two other factors in common--they are all exquisitely designed and visually pleasing.
So let’s take a look at this super course, one that we can all play, even if it is one hole at a time. Shoot par on this course and you’re a player. Number One:
The 510 -yard par-five 5th at The Ranch Golf Club in Southwick.
A superb way to get the round started!. A wide fairway awaits your tee shot. Gamblers will aim for the small section of fairway on the left if they want to reach this green in two. Others need to watch out for a cluster of fairway bunkers that guard the second landing area. Number Two:
The 427-yard par-four 5th at The Nicklaus Course at Pinehills Golf Club in Plymouth.
A real strong four par. The tee shot must be to the left side of the fairway to present the best shot to the green. Just make sure the approach is true, for a pond guards right side of the putting surface on this slight dogleg right. Number Three:
The 233-yard par-three 5th at Cranwell Resort, Spa & Golf Club in Lenox.
Wow! A fairway wood is needed to find this rather large, sloping green, which sits in a bowl. There’s a steep hill to the right and wetlands to the left. The tee shot better be true or double bogey waits. Number Four:
The 573-yard par-five 8th at the Port Course at The Captains Golf Club in Brewster.
The hole winds its way through woodlands with a bunker guarding the left side of the landing area. The smart play is a lay-up on the second, for a pond guards the entrance to the green, as does a bunker on the right side. Number Five:
The 428-yard par-four 18th at New England Country Club in Bellingham.
Great par-four. A rather narrow fairway requires a precise tee shot leaving a mid iron approach to a small green guarded in front by water. Get a par and head to the next hole. Number Six:
The 323-yard par-four 8th at Red Tail Golf Club in Devons.
Yes, it is drivable for real big hitters. But there are plenty of bunkers and woods to the left and right of the hole. The green is long and narrow, further complicating matters. Number Seven:
The 353-yard par-four 1st at Blissful Meadows Golf Club in Uxbridge.
A dogleg left, the hole demands an accurate tee shot with danger lurking right and long. The approach is to a large green that slopes from back to front. Looks a lot easier than it is. Number Eight:
The 161-yard par-three 11th at the Crumpin-Fox Club in Bernardston.
Goes to show you that a par-three need not be long to be difficult. Perfect club selection is needed to find a small green. Short and you’re in a trap or nasty rough. Right, left or long isn’t much better. Number Nine:
The 424-yard par-four 16th at Farm Neck Golf Club on Martha’s Vineyard.
Nice way to end the front nine. A precise tee shot must carry over a pond. A tee shot to the left side of the fairway opens up the green for a mid-short iron. Avoid missing the green right or left as you will be faced with a difficult up and down. Number 10:
The 227-yard par-three 15th at Maplegate Country Club in Bellingham.
Another good hole that doesn’t hide anything. All you need is a well struck long iron or fairway wood to find the green and avoid the troublesome bunkers left and right of the putting surface. Number 11:
The 334-yard par-four 15th at The Brookside Club in Bourne.
A wonderful, short par-four. Go ahead, try and drive it or get close to the green off the tee. But make it good. There are bunkers left and a pond right and the hole bends ever so slightly to the right. Number 12:
The 440-yard par-four 11th at Taconic Golf Club in Williamstown.
A very demanding hole from one of the best golf courses in New England. Bunkers and woods guard the landing area and there are a myriad of sand traps near the green. Long and mean. Number 13:
The 478-yard par-four 9th at The North Course at Stowe Acres Golf Club in Stow.
Like real tough par-fours? Well, we have another one for you. Water runs down the entire left side of the hole and cuts across just in front of the green. All you have to do is find the fairway and then make your approach perfect. Number 14:
The 601-yard par-five 8th at the Ocean Course at Ocean Edge Resort in Brewster.
Six hundred yards. Has a nice ring to it. There is marshland all the way along the left side of the hole, which makes the drive and lay-up tricky. Four bunkers guard the putting surface…when you finally get there. Number 15:
The 251-yard par-three 17th at Waverly Oaks Golf Club in Plymouth.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse. The view from the tee, across a deep ravine with a yawning bunker in front of the putting surface, has made many a strong player tighten his grip. There is bailout room to the left of the green. Just as long as you don’t mind making bogey. Number 16:
The 407-yard par-four 14th at Bayberry Hills Golf Club in West Yarmouth.
We let up a little before the big finish. Just a good, solid hole that bends slightly to the left, making a tee shot past the corner a must. Plenty of bunkers. Number 17:
The 460-yard par-four 18th at Shaker Hills Golf Club in Harvard.
The tee shot is over a river to find a narrow strip of a fairway. The approach is to an undulating green that is well protected by bunkers. Number 18:
The 485-yard par-five 18th at Blackstone National Golf Club in Sutton.
One of our all-time favorite par-fives and a strong finishing hole that gives you a great risk / reward opportunity.. No it isn’t long. But the tee shot must find a landing area surrounded by wetlands and woods with the second shot uphill to either the green or a landing area. There’s usually a crowd watching you from the veranda near the clubhouse on nice days.