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 »  Home  »  Regional Editorials  »  Northeast  »  Southern New England Coastline
Southern New England Coastline
By Tom Landers | Published  10/18/2007 | Northeast | Unrated
Where The Golf Season Never Ends
Head for the coast for some great golf!

Cape Cod, the area around Plymouth, Mass., South County, R.I. and courses along Long Island Sound in Connecticut are some of the most delicious places to play when the nights turn cool and the trees fire up for their annual display of color.

Like biting into a lush Macintosh or Cortland apple, golf during October and November along the New England coastline can send you into a reverie that will sustain you through the cold weather. And if that cold weather, or at least the white stuff, doesn’t come until January or February so much the better. The courses we’ll talk about keep their fairways and greens open throughout the year, weather permitting.

Because of the ocean waters that drift by to the east, Cape Cod enjoys some fabulous and at times unexpectedly mild weather during October and November. They call it “champagne air” when the breeze blows easily off the salt water and floats over this narrow strip of land that runs from Bourne to Provincetown. And remember, the massive crowds of summer have long gone, leaving the courses to dedicated golfers who would rather give up their jobs that put their sticks away after Labor Day.

“We’ll stay open year round as long as we don’t get snow,” said Tom Tobey, head professional at Bay Pointe Country Club in Onset. “And I think fall is the best time of the year to play golf on the Cape.”

“We are open 363 days of the year weather permits,” claims Dave Bartlett, director of golf at The Brookside Club in Bourne.
Here are a few recommendations on where you can feel like summer will never end, even when the leaves start tumbling to the ground.

Lets start in Plymouth, a short ride south from Beantown at Waverly Oaks Golf Club, one of the top courses in New England. This 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 U.S. 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.

Waverly 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 a majestic 251-yarder 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.

The Captains Golf Club in 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.

One the sweetest tests of golf on Cape Cod is Bayberry Hills Golf Course and The Links 9 located in the historic town of Yarmouth.

The original 18 holes at Bayberry Hills was designed by the notable team of Geoffrey Cornish and Brian Silva and opened for play in 1986. A Lines 9 was opened in 1999.

This is a true “championship” layout, which can be stretched to almost 7,200 yards, although it’s slope of 123 from the tips indicates that good players can go low here provided they manage their games appropriately.

The track features seven par-fours of over 400 yards and three par-threes over 200 yards, including the monstrous 241-yard 17th hole. Number four is a superb par-four, playing around 400 yards with water guarding the right side of the fairway landing area and the front of the green.

Number 14 is another great par-four. It measures over 400 yards from the tips and bends to the right with bunkers guarding the fairway landing area and scattered around the deep putting surface.

The Links 9 is a fun, eclectic course to play if you want to tack another nine holes onto your round or are merely looking to fit a little golf in between sightseeing or a day at the beach. A number of the holes are doglegs, which makes approach shots tricky if you don’t put your tee shot in the proper position. Number nine is a 195-yard par-three that demands a solid shot over water to reach a medium size green.

In contrast to the modern stylings of Bayberry Hills, nearby Bass River Golf Club offers a 100-year-old course that the legendary Donald Ross renovated and expanded in 1914. The course rolls along among trees and sandy hills and features narrow fairways, small greens and views of nearby Bass River.
The club’s signature hole is the sixth, a 169-yard three par that plays across the river. The layout is on the short side, but the holes demand good shot making and a deft touch around the greens, a Ross trademark.

The Brookside Club, designed by Michael Hurdzan in 1986 and “refined” by John Sandford in 1996, is the first golf course a traveler comes upon crossing over the Bourne Bridge and traveling south on Route 28 for a bit.

But Brookside would be worth considerable more effort to reach from the mainland. For it presents a solid test of golf and has received plaudits for its conditioning and interesting routing. It also has one of the most impressive clubhouses on the Cape, sitting atop a hill overlooking Buzzards Bay and a railroad bridge that crosses the Cape Cod Canal.

The eighth is billed as the toughest hole the course. The long par-four concludes at an undulating green guarded by a pond. One of the more fascinating holes on the tract is the dogleg par-four 15th, where the player must place his or her tee shot in a perfect position in order to attack the green. A crisp, well-placed drive leaves a wedge to the putting surface. The par-threes at Brookside, while not overly long, are strengths and the two par-fives on the course are very good.

Brookside has three sets of tees to meet the playing abilities of all visitors. While relatively short this is a course that can eat your piping hot New England clam chowder if you’re not thoughtful on each shot.

Golfers are raving about the improved conditions and scenic test of golf Bay Pointe Country Club presents. Once known as Warham Country Club, Bay Pointe offers a fun routing and a course that is easy to walk.

Bay Pointe, located just a mile from the Cape Cod Canal on the mainland side of the Cape, plays only 6,201 yards from the tips and is a par-70. It is a shot maker’s course, one where correct club selection and accurate positioning is rewarded more than brute strength off the tee.

The layout features one of the few island greens in Massachusetts, the seventh hole, which plays only 100 yards from the back tees. But you had better hit it right on the number or double bogey or worse comes into the equation.

A few miles away Sandwich Hollows Golf Club is another 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.
If you are up for a little bit of a drive for an autumn golf getaway the coastal courses of Rhode Island’s South County will also push the calendar back as far as they can.

The Orchard Course at Newport National Golf Club is a true delight, both for the senses and the avid golfer in all of us. The Orchard Course stretches to 7,200 yards from the tips and provides a stern test for even the most accomplished players.
True to the links-like design of the course, the layout plays differently from day to day. While there are no holes directly on the ocean, when the breeze blows hard off Sakonnet Passage it can make The Orchard Course play as difficult as the legendary Scottish links.

The Orchard Course was designed by Arthur Hills and his associate Drew Rogers. They fit the routing well into the natural environment of the Rhode Island oceanside. Fescue lines the bent grass fairways and the tee boxes, which presents the impression that the track could just as easily be sitting in Ireland or Scotland than in the Ocean State.

The holes at The Orchard Course offer a pleasing blend, ranging from the long and difficult to the short and sublime. The fairways are ample and the greens on the large side with undulation.

The 17th hole may be the toughest par-four on the course, playing almost 490 yards with a huge bunker protecting the left side of the fairway landing area.

Richmond’s Beaver River Golf Club features superbly conditioned fairways and impeccable bent grass greens. This is a truly enjoyable course that favors careful course management and a thoughtful approach to each shot.

Beaver River plays only 6,006 yards from the tips, but narrow, tree-lined fairways, many of which are bend one way or the other and plenty of hazards can turn a seemingly easy hole into a double bogey.

Laurel Lane Country Club, located in West Kingston, bills itself as “The Gem of South County” and features immaculate conditions and a player-friendly routing.

This is another relatively short, 6,128-yard course that only has two par-fours that play over 400 yards, the first and 10th, with a number of short “fours” that allow the player to get it as close to the green as possible with driver or play safe with a fairway wood or long iron off the tee.

The toughest hole on the track is, ironically, the first. The 400-yard par-four seems pretty straightforward, but a pond protects the right side of the fairway landing area and three bunkers will gobble up shots that wander too far left.

Fenner Hill Golf Club, another track that is only a few years old and located in Hope Valley, is another shot maker’s course. Longer than Laurel Lane and Beaver River at 6,650 yards from the back markers, Fenner Hill places a premium on accurate drives and careful approaches to the greens. There are a number of forced carries here, which can complicate matters but also add to the thrill of playing.

The number one handicap hole is the 579-yard par-five eighth, which is just one long, beast of a challenge and a true three-shot hole for most players.

The 15th is perhaps Fenner Hills’ signature hole. The 325-yard par-four plays from an elevated tee with a pond protecting the right side of the putting surface and three bunkers standing sentinel to the front and left of the green.

Connecticut’s Shennecossett Golf Course in Groton, built in 1898, is as close to a true links course as you will find in the Nutmeg State and stays open all year if there is no snow. The layout rambles over mostly flat land and has the design features--pot bunkers, tall fescue grass off the fairways and even three holes on or near the ocean, albeit Long Island Sound--that are hallmarks of links courses. When the wind blows hard at Shenny in early April it can bend the flagsticks and make some par-fours impossible to reach in two.

While there are several holes that are tree lined, the course for the most part is wide open with several sunken fairways that are so prevalent on Scottish and Irish courses.

The “new” holes at Shenny are 15, 16 and 17, with the 16th, a 400-yard par-four, finishing on a green that lies within a chip shot of Long Island Sound, offering stunning views of the water. The finishing hole, a 500-yard par-five, is a strong way to end a round. It’s a classic links style hole that has fairway bunkers and plays up a hill over open ground and then down to a green protected by more bunkers.

Laurel View Country Club in Hamden, Ct. although inland a bit from Long Island Sound, will stay open as long as it can if the weather cooperates. A reconditioning of the layout has dramatically improved conditions in recent years and this Geoffrey Cornish design is a true hidden gem.

The course can be stretched beyond 7,000 yards and features some of the toughest par-fours in the state, like the 479-yard fifth. A pond guards the right side of the green, which often must be attacked with a long iron or fairway wood.

The seventh hole is a monstrous par-three, measuring around 250 yards from the tips, leaving even the best players with a fairway wood in their hands on the tee box.

Ironically, the par-fives are on the short side, but they are not pieces of cake. Take the 490-yard 14th, which plays even shorter because it’s downhill off the tee. However, there is a pond in front of the green that must be carried and bunkers guarding the putting surface. The hole is a superb example of a par-five that can be attacked on the second shot. But bogey or worse waits if you don’t put your approach in the right spot.

So, don’t pack your clubs away to quickly, there is plenty of golf to be played along the New England coastline.