Golfing Magazine’s Northeast Edition is offering a chance for our readers to play for free what we like to call “The Sweet Sixteen,” a plethora of superb public courses in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Southern Maine and Vermont that are sure to delight.
Simply subscribe for a year to our magazine for the modest price of $39 and you’ll receive a free round of golf at each of these fabulous daily fee tracks, designed by some of the most prominent golf course architects in the country. So hop on board and join in the fun. MASSACHUSETTS COURSES BLACKSTONE NATIONAL GOLF CLUB, Sutton
Master golf course architect Rees Jones created what many have called one of his best works in the wooded countryside of the Blackstone Valley area, not far from Worcester.
Blackstone National Golf Club is a truly splendid tract, one that weaves over hill and dale, through mature stands of trees, past old stone walls and contains enough character to fill a golfer’s dreams. The sense of peace and immersion in nature is second only to the challenging golf Jones presents the visitor.
Jones incorporated only a few forced carries into his routing at Blackstone National, allowing even mid- and high-handicappers to navigate the course in relative comfort. To make matters easier, Jones also designed large fairways that allow a player to stay in the hole even after a less than perfect tee shot. There is ample bunkering that guards the medium sized greens, making it imperative to choose the proper club on approaches. www.blackstonegolfclub.com
(508-865-2111) MAPLEGATE COUNTRY CLUB, Bellingham
Located in a scenic, quiet area west of Boston, Maplegate Country Club has been delighting visitors ever since it opened.
Built in lush woodlands dotted with maples, beech, oak and white birch trees, architect Philip Wogan designed a course that fits superbly into its environment and offers an always interesting, challenging round.
The 6,815-yard, well-conditioned layout, which hosted a U.S. Open qualifier in 1998 and 2001, offers a great mix of holes, from short par-fours that may be drivable for the big hitters, to brutally long, difficult four pars. Water comes into play on a number of holes and makes tee shots and approaches to the rather large and undulating greens dicey at times.
Number 18 is a scintillating finishing hole. The 447-yard par-four doglegs severely to the right and demands a tee shot of over 200 yards to have an unfettered look at the green. A stream must be carried and a greenside pond avoided on the approach shot. www.maplegate.com
(508-966-4040) GLEN ELLEN COUNTRY CLUB, Millis
Glen Ellen Country Club offers superb conditions and a challenging routing. What more can a golfer ask for?
Recent improvements include new 16 tee boxes, 22 new bunkers, re-contoured fairways, added length and one new green complex, on the third hole. A new irrigation system has greatly enhanced the overall condition of the course.
Glen Ellen, which can stretch to 6,634 yards, plays to a par of 72 and has two par-threes--numbers two and eight--that play over water. The second hole can stretch to 218 yards from the back tees, while the eighth hole is a full carry over water to a large green.
Number 17 is a classic, difficult 411-yard dogleg left par four. The hole demands a hefty and accurate tee shot to avoid water left and right followed by a well struck mid- or long-iron to the green.
Glen Ellen also features two reachable par fives and two par-threes, including the second hole, measuring over 200 yards. www.glenellencc.com
(508-376-2775) NEW ENGLAND COUNTRY CLUB, Bellingham
Hale Irwin, the three-time U.S. Open champ was the mastermind behind the design of New England Country Club in Bellingham, one of the best-conditioned and most interesting courses in the greater Boston area.
New England CC has the look and feel of a private club, with Irwin placing his routing smoothly over rolling hills and through mature woods. He also designed multiple tee boxes to allow all players the opportunity to enjoy the track.
While not overly long at around 6,500 yards from the back tees, New England CC is a true test of golf that features several doglegs, ample greenside and fairway bunkers, and water on a number of holes.
New England CC, which offers stunning views spring through fall, has all the amenities one would expect from a private club, including an all-grass driving range, practice bunkers, a practice putting green, and computerized GPS yardage systems on the carts. www.newenglandcountryclub.com
(508-883-2300) THE CAPTAINS GOLF COURSE, Brewster
With two superb 18-hole layouts, the Captains Golf Course located in the laid-back charming mid-Cape area of Olde Cape Cod is considered one of the premier golf destinations in the Northeast.
The Port and Starboard courses are interesting, challenging routings and well maintained throughout the year.
The Port Course plays 6,724 yards from the tips and carries a course rating of 73.5 and a slope of 130.
The Starboard Course is around 50 yards longer from the back markers and is rated 72.6 with a slope of 130. There are three other sets of tees on both courses to meet the playing abilities of all visitors.
The club has a splendid practice and golf learning center featuring over 40 grass tee stations with target greens surrounded by bunkers amid a rolling terrain that simulates actual course conditions. www.captainsgolfcourse.com
. 877-843-9081 TEKOA COUNTRY CLUB, Westfield
The hand of legendary golf course designer Donald Ross is all over wonderful Tekoa Country Club, located at the foothills of the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts.
Ross designed an original nine holes in 1923 and five of these remain intact, the second, third, fourth, 14th and 15th. Geoffrey Cornish, one of the most prolific of all New England architects, redesigned the course in 1961 and added 13 gems of his own to today’s present routing.
Recent work has added about 400 yards of length to the layout, refreshed the course’s classic bunkering system, and enhanced several greens.
While not overly long at 6,215 yards from the tips Tekoa’s smallish, undulating greens are difficult to find and a good short game is essential to score well here.
All four of the par-fives are under or around 500 yards in length and reachable in two for big hitters, further adding to the pleasure and challenge of a round here. www.tekoacc.com
(413-568-1064) WORTHINGTON GOLF CLUB, Worthington
Don’t let the fact that Worthington Golf Club is only nine holes dissuade you from visiting. For this is a special experience, with the course located in the charming and historic Berkshire Hills.
Worthington was founded over 100 years ago and offers a delightful, deceptively challenging round of golf. Several of the par-fours, such as the 333-yard first, 322-yard second and 301-yard fourth, are reachable by big hitters off the tee But there is enough danger in the form of bunkers and tree lined fairways to make you think twice about grabbing the big stick.
The number one handicap hole is the 528-yard, par-five seventh.
The course can be stretched to 18, with another set of tees presenting a different look and playing experience the second time around. www.worthingtongolfclub.com
(413-238-4464) CRUMPIN-FOX CLUB, Bernardston
The Crumpin-Fox Club was carved out of the forest close to the Vermont line.
Many of the holes here are tree-lined with ample bunking and enough water to create a few jangled nerves as the round proceeds. Some of the greens are elevated, further complicating proper club selection, especially when the breeze kicks up.
The 550-yard, par-five eighth is one of the more celebrated holes in New England. A lake runs along the entire left side of the fairway towards the putting surface, necessitating an eventual approach shot over water to an undulating green.
There is no shortage of great holes at “Crump,” designed by noted golf course architect Roger Rulewich, who lives nearby and maintains an office on the property.
The 18th is wonderful. The drive needs to stay clear of trees left and right to set up a daunting mid-iron across a pond to a snake-like green that can be almost impossible to find depending upon pin placement. www.golfthefox.com
(413-648-9101) CONNECTICUT COURSES Great River Golf Club, Milford
Great River Golf Club has been rated as the 34th best public facility in the country and second best in the state among both public or private facilities by Golf Digest Magazine.
Great River has six tee options, so only the mid- or high-handicapper with a self-punishment complex would chose to play the tips, which measures 7,200-plus yards with a slope rating of 152. Most visitors will play shorter tees, the blue or white, which are 6,400 and 6,000 yards long, respectively.
The course was designed by Tom Fazio’s nephew Tommy. He routed the layout over rolling terrain, with some elevation changes, trees and water.
The hardest hole may be the par-four, 440-yard 7th. It demands both distance and accuracy off the tee. The fairway has water on the right and a marsh on the left. The second shot--a long-iron or fairway wood into the green--must avoid a tree that Fazio decided to leave where he found it.
Monty’s River Grille, a grill-type restaurant, serves lunches and dinners of fine American and a mix of world-style cuisine. www.greatrivergolfclub.com
. 877-478-7470 BLUE FOX RUN GOLF COURSE, Avon
Blue Fox Run Golf Course is public golf at its best.
A friendly atmosphere that caters to parents and women, a superb practice facility and 18 holes of top shelf golf are enough to make this Greater Hartford tract one of the area’s favorites.
Blue Fox Run is a true players’ course in that it appeals to both accomplished golfers and beginners. The front nine, which recently had extensive work done to its bunkers, is wide open and never takes driver out of the equation, a nice bonus in these days of target golf. The first half of the back nine is much the same. But the layout tightens down the stretch, pushing the visitor to play well to finish of a round in high style.
The best hole on the front side may be the eighth, a 568-yard par-five that plays through a chute of trees on the tee shot and concludes at an elevated, severely slopping green that is brutal to putt. The 175-yard par-three 17th is an island green complex that can play enormously difficult when the wind blows.
The course will open a new nine later this year or next. www.bluefoxent.com
(860-678-1679) BANNER LODGE COUNTRY CLUB, Moodus
Banner Lodge, a 6,015-yard, par-72 track, is situated on 200 acres of scenic Connecticut countryside.
There is a pleasing mix of wooded and open holes and the layout is playable for all levels and challenging enough to hold the interest of more accomplished golfers.
Especially daunting are back-to-back par-fives on the front side. The sixth is a 507-yard, double-dogleg with water and an elevated green. The putting surface can be reached in two, but there is plenty of danger awaiting an errant shot.
Both the course and its facilities are undergoing major renovations that include enhanced turf quality, expanded tee boxes and a new clubhouse, which promise to deepen a visitor’s overall experience at Banner Lodge Country Club. www.bannercountryclub.com
(860-873-9075) QUARRY RIDGE GOLF CLUB, Portland
Quarry Ridge is a true shot-maker’s delight, with dramatic elevation changes, an interesting mix of long and short holes and tricky greens.
The course is regularly listed among the best in Connecticut and conditions are always top-notch.
For more information, www.quarryridge.com
860-342-6113 MAINE COURSES DUNEGRASS GOLF CLUB, Old Orchard Beach
Located near Old Orchard Beach and the city of Portland and only an hour’s drive north from Boston is one of Maine’s best golf courses, Dunegrass Golf Club.
North Carolina-based architect Dan Maples brought a down-home feeing to Maine when he designed Dunegrass. There is a distinct Carolina feel to the 6,684-yard, par-71 course that features sandy waste areas and pine-needled rough. The course, which opened for play in 1998 and remains in pristine condition, sprawls over 300 acres.
Water comes into play on over half the holes, including three of the par-threes, which are a strength of the layout. The course features a pleasing variety of holes.
Dunegrass has one of the best finishing holes in New England. The par-five measures 548 yards from the tips and the tee shot is across water, although the carry is relatively slight. Sand and waste bunkers guard the fairway all the way to the green, making a lay-up a dicey proposition. www.dunegrass.com
(207-934-4513) THE LINKS AT OUTLOOK, South Berwick
Brian Silva lent his expertise to the design of The Links at Outlook, a prime example of an “American links” routing.
In a nod to the legendary Scottish courses Silva incorporated what he calls random bunkering into his design to make the player think out each shot.
The Links at Outlook, only an hour from Boston, is mostly open to the elements, with each hole posing its own set of problems, whether they be fairway bunkers, sloping greens, or deep rough off the fairways.
While not overly long--only 6,423 from the back tees--The Links at Outlook can play difficult in windy conditions. None of the par-fours on the back side measure over 388 yards. But Silva placed a premium on accuracy off the tee and proper club selection on approach shots in order to stay out of trouble.
The toughest hole on the course is the 451-yard par-four second. And the other three of the first four holes--two par-fives and a 206-yard par-three, test the player right out of the box. www.outlookgolf.com
(207-384-4653) VERMONT COURSES KILLINGTON RESORT GOLF COURSE, Killington
Killington Resort Golf Course is mountainside golf at its best.
Measuring just 6,168 but carrying a slope of 129 from the back markers, Killington is a true test of proper club selection, careful course management and execution, both off the tee and to the greens.
Killington was designed by the famous New England golf course architect Geoffrey Cornish and is considered to be one his best works. Cornish skillfully routed the track through mature woodlands and up and down the mountainside.
Recent renovations have enhanced the pleasure of playing this magnificent northern New England layout.
One of the best holes at Killington is the 432-yard, par-four 12th. The tee shot should be laid to the front of a large stream that cuts across the fairway. But brave souls will try to cross the river off the tee to the left side and shorten the approach shot. www.killingtongolf.com
(802-422-6700) GREEN MOUNTAIN NATIONAL GOLF CLUB, Killington
Located close to Killington Resort Golf Course is one of the Green Mountain State’s newest and most acclaimed tracks, Green Mountain National Golf Club.
The course was carved out of the mountains and features gently sloping fairways, changes in elevation and undulating greens. Rock formations line many of the holes and combine with the changes in elevation to create memorable views.
Green Mountain, which is always in superb condition, has some water and trees frame most of the holes. There are several doglegs that make the course play longer than its 6,589 yards from the tips.
The par-threes here are strong, with the best perhaps being the 204-yard 17th, which demands a precise tee shot to find a narrow, long green. Several of the par-fives are reachable in two for big hitters, including the 466-yard 15th that features a severe dogleg right design. www.greenmountainnational.com