Baseball and birdies. A nice combination
You can enjoy
both during August and September by parlaying a round of golf at one of the Boston area’s high-end, daily fee golf courses with a day at Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox try and win another American League East Division pennant.
The Sox will be home for a number of dates during the final two months of the regular season, including three days in September; the 14th, 15th and 16th against the New York Yankees. In fact, Boston plays at home 17 days in September, so there is plenty of baseball left to catch.
Why not combine two of man’s noblest and most beloved pursuits in one day? There are a number of top shelf golf courses located within an hour’s or so drive of Fenway that will allow you to tee it up the morning, get to Boston for a beer and fish and chips or a lobster at one of the city’s famous pubs and restaurants and be in your seat an The Fen in time for the first pitch.
Here’s a few great places where you can start your day.
Rees Jones created a beauty at Blackstone National Golf Club
in Sutton. The layout has been called one of the master architect’s best designs and is a scenic routing that ambles over the countryside and plays to a yardage of almost 7,000 yards from the tips. Each hole here is set apart from the others, further adding to the sensory experience. The 351-yard, downhill par-four fifth is drivable for the big hitters. But there are plenty of hazards to turn birdie into bogey in an instant.Red Tail Golf Club
, built on a former U.S. Army range north of Boston, has been hailed as one of the best new layouts in New England. Designed by Brian Silva, the 7,000-yard tract flows over rolling woodland and by numerous streams and ponds. The terrain varies from holes lined by maples, birches and oaks to those framed by tall grasses and sand reminiscent of coastal courses.
The finishing hole at Red Tail, a 543-yard par-five that goes by the name “Temptation” is a classic. A booming tee shot to the middle portion of the fairway, which is lined by trees on both sides, will indeed tempt you to reach for a fairway wood to try for the green in two. But the shot better be true as a pond guards the right side of green.
The newest and perhaps most spectacular addition to the Boston golfing scene is Granite Links Golf Club
, located only a short drive from downtown. The facility offers 27 holes of splendid golf designed by John Sanford, and is routed through a variety of terrain. A number of the holes offer views of the Boston skyline. In fact, you can hear the roar from Fenway when the Sox get a rally going, as the park is located only a few miles away from this gem.
The most challenging hole on the 6,818-yard layout is perhaps the 10th. It’s a monstrous, 483-yard par-four that demands two lusty shots to find the putting surface.
Located in a scenic, quiet area near Bellingham and Franklin, west of Boston, Maplegate Country Club
was built in lush woodlands dotted with maples, beech, oak and white birch trees. Architect Philip Wogan designed a course that fits easily 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.
The 16th is a wonderfully designed par-five that plays 530 yards and features a rather narrow fairway, a stream cutting across the short grass about 90 yards out from the green, and a pond to the right side the putting surface. Even a lay-up shot here to leave a wedge into the green is a risky proposition.
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.
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. The layout has played host to a number of prominent tournaments, including the New England Public Links and NCAA Division II regionals.
New England Country Club 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.Blissful Meadows Golf Club
in Uxbridge is simply one of the best public golf courses in Massachusetts.
While it may not receive the fanfare of other high-profile daily fee layouts in the area, Blissful Meadows is a well-conditioned, superbly routed, enjoyable test of golf that will have you wanting more. And it has two of the best starting and finishing holes you’ll find anywhere.
Number one, a 353-yard par-four called “Prelude,” demands a downhill tee shot and a slightly uphill approach shot to a green protected by bunkers to the left. The 18th, called “The Barn,” is a wonderful final hole. It’s 420 yards from the tips with the green guarded by water and a bunker to the left. By the way, the backdrop to the hole is the clubhouse, which was remodeled from an old Victorian barn listed on the National Register of Historic Places.Glen Ellen Country Club
in Millis recently underwent a several million dollar renovation redesign overseen by noted golf course architect Ron Pritchard. Pritchard is recognized for classical course designs and his specialty in restoring Donald Ross layouts.
The “new” Glen Ellen course encompasses the classical elements of the tract’s original design and incorporates 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.
The layout 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, measuring over 200 yards.
Opened in 1998, The Champions Course at Waverly Oaks Golf Club in Plymouth, just a short drive from Boston down Route 3, has gained a reputation as one the best courses south of The Hub.
The Championship layout has five sets of tees, wide, forgiving fairways, large undulating greens and ideal conditions that allows for a pleasant and challenging test for players of all abilities.
The course features a number of dramatic elevation changes, unique for a coastal area course. The 17th at Waverly Oaks
, a monstrous par-three that plays over 250 yards from the tips and demands all carry over a waste area and large bunker, is perhaps the best par-three in New England.
There’s also a Challenger, par-33 course for beginners and better players to get a few extra holes in before heading to Fenway.
A few miles onto Cape Cod is Sandwich Hollows Golf Club
, a public course that has seen its overall conditioning improve dramatically.
Sandwich Hollows offers views of Cape Cod Bay to the north from several holes, and the course is bordered by hundreds of acres of conservation area to the east, west and south. This gives the golfer a feeling of being isolated from players on other holes.
Sandwich Hollows features a number of par-fours on the short side, several long par-threes, and challenging par-fives, one of which (the sixth hole) measures close to 600 yards from the tips.
Okay, Dunegrass Golf Club and Links at Outlook are in Maine, but they’re only an hour’s drive north from Boston.
North Carolina-based architect Dan Maples brought a down-home feeing to Maine when he designed Dunegrass
, located in Old Orchard Beach. For 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.
While the tract is not long it does require a thoughtful approach on every shot. Proper club selection is a must as is the ability to chip and putt around and on the undulating greens. There are plenty of bunkers in the fairways and around the greens to further complicate matters.
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. The 18th plays as the second handicap hole on the course, so par here will make the refreshments in Dunegrass’ attractive lounge or restaurant taste even better.
Brian Silva also lent his expertise to the design The Links at Outlook
in nearby South Berwick, Me., another prime example of an American links routing. In a nod to the legendary Scottish courses, Silva likes to incorporate what he calls random bunkering into his designs to make the player think out each shot.
The Links at Outlook is for 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.So enjoy the links and head to Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox try and win another American League East Division pennant.