A Massachusetts Gem Ranch Golf Club
From the moment you drive into The Ranch Golf Club, located in Southwick, Mass., you feel you are somewhere special. The Ranch, which is managed by Cape Cod-based Willowbend Golf Management, sits on 320 acres that was the site of a sprawling farm. The course, which was designed by California-based golf course architect Damian Pascuzzo, is considered one of the New England’s finest and most aesthetic tests of golf.
Pascuzzo’s routing is a pleasurable mix of open, traditional “links-style” and woodland holes. The landing areas are fairly wide and there are just enough bunkers (some 60 sand traps dot the course) to keep the player honest both off the tee and on approach shots. The par fives at The Ranch approach the spectacular, the par-fours are most interesting and present several options off the tee, and the par threes are challenging. The Ranch has bent grass greens, fairways and tee boxes with bluegrass, rye and fescue rough that grows tall in the warm months. Both nines at the par-72 Ranch start off with open holes that allow the player to grip and rip. A nice touch is the mildly-challenging 510-yard par five first that has water guarding its entire left side.
The 441-yard par-four fourth (the number one handicap hole), called “Deer Run,” is a visually stimulating hole. This is the start of the woodland section of the front nine, and the tall pines and hardwoods that frame the hole present an image you will want to ponder. The front nine concludes with another stunner, the 540-yard par five “Glacier,” which has an elevation drop of 120 feet. The big hitters can reach in two, but there’s a marshy area guarding the front of the green. Number 13 is another scintillating par five that plays as the number two handicap hole. The 592-yarder is framed by tall trees and you’ll need two precise shots to put yourself in position for a wedge shot into a severely sloped green.
The Ranch finishes on a high, literally. There’s another huge elevation drop at the 618-yard par-five 16th, which plays much shorter because the tee shot is all downhill. A booming drive leaves the player with the option of laying up or threading the needle between two ponds and reaching the huge green in two. The 195-yard par-three 17th plays over water to a ribbon of a green with steep hills behind. And the 438-yard, par four 18th plays downhill on the second shot to a green guarded by bunkers to the left. There is a lot of risk-reward on the course. There’s a nice blend of holes, from easy to hard, and some of the views are stunning and golfers who come here leave knowing that were given an exceptional experience.