There is hardly a better place to play golf when the leaves turn color and the nights get cool than Cape Cod.
The little peninsula on the coast eastern Massachusetts is home to some of the best golf courses in New England. Starting at Bourne and ranging to Truro, the Cape boats a wide variety of layouts--from exclusive private clubs to little nine-hole gems that never fail to delight.
Autumn is a magical time on the Cape. The crowds of summer have gone and the living has returned to a slower, more relaxed pace. The days are still warm, with temperatures moderated by the ocean waters that are never far away from any spot on Cape Cod.
It’s a perfect time to head out for a weekend or a week. Walks along the beach, enjoying fine dining or digging into a meal at one of the many lobster shanties that dot the area, hiking or biking along the Rail Trail, visiting the magical Cape Cod National Seashore, checking out the historic sights or simply sitting back and watching the brilliant sunsets with a beverage in hand, these are just some of the many after-golf pursuits you can enjoy here.
But you came for the golf, right? Most courses offer some fabulous fall greens fees offers. The courses are in great shape and it’s easy to get a tee time. If the weather cooperates, Cape Coders play can golf year round. So this really is a place where the game never stops.
If you ask serious golfers what their favorite layout on Cape Cod is the name that often pops up is Cranberry Valley Golf Course.
Designed by Geoffrey Cornish and Brian Silva and located in Harwich, Cranberry Valley Golf Club is well maintained courses and features a superb routing that flows easily over beautiful terrain, which includes marshes and, of course, a few cranberry bogs.
Management enhanced the course a few years ago through an extensive bunker redesign and restoration, overseen by noted architect Mark Mungeam. Several fairway bunkers were relocated so as to come into play to protect par against today’s modern equipment, although the best players can still dare to fly the traps off the tee.
“We have had a great year and we expect that to continue into fall,” said director of golf Dennis Hoye. “Playing conditions are ideal.”
Cranberry Valley is offering a great $38 greens fee special Monday through Thursday.
Cranberry Valley isn’t overly long, 6,745, but there are a number of dogleg holes that add invisible yardage and demand proper club selection and shot placement off the tee.
One of the best holes on the par-72 layout is the double dogleg finale, a tough, 575-yard par-five that can make or break a match or a round.
If you are going to go low you are probably going to have do your scoring on Cranberry Valley’s par-fours and par-fives. Most of the par-fours measure less than 400 yards, including the 309-yard 15th, which is approachable off the tee for the long hitters. The par-threes here are very demanding, none more so than the 17th, a 229-yarder.
Once known as Warham Country Club, Bay Pointe Country Club offers a fun routing and a course that is easy to walk.
Mick Herron, director of golf at the club, said golfers can play 18 for $34, including cart, after Columbus Day and for $38 on weekends. An indication of the late season Cape Cod golf enjoys is Bay Pointe’s annual Holiday Invitational, which will be held Nov. 28 this year.
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 terrain of Bay Pointe is gentle, except for some hilly sections on the opening two holes, the first a par-five that measures close to 500 yards and the second the longest par-four on the course at 465 yards.
The layout also 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 golfers the 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.
Up Rt. 6 a bit from Sandwich Hollows is the Yarmouth’s 45-hole facility that includes Bayberry Hills Golf Course and The Links 9 and Bass River Golf Course.
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. This is a true “championship” layout that can be stretched to almost 7,200 yards. 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 good par-four, playing around 400 yards with water guarding the right side of the fairway landing area and the front of the green.
The Links 9 was opened in 1999 and is a fun 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 look of Bayberry Hills, Bass River Golf Club offers a 100-year-old course that the legendary Donald Ross renovated and expanded in 1914. The layout rolls along among trees and sandy hills and features narrow fairways, small greens and views of nearby Bass River.
Said Jim Armentrout, general manager of the club, “We have great weather, great conditions, great value. We have multi round packages and if you play either Bass River or Bayberry Hills, you can play the sister course after noon with in the same week for $50. We expect to have a great fall season.”
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 Captains Golf Course is Brewster offers 36 holes of very good golf on two distinct 18-hole layouts. The club bills itself as the Cape’s premier public golf facility. The conditioning here is always top notch, the golf is challenging and scenic, there are two practice greens and a driving range, a restaurant, a staff that is always available for lessons, and a fully-stocked pro shop.
The two courses--The Port and The Starboard--are solid routings. The Port plays to a yardage of 6,724 yards and has a slope of 131 and a rating above its posted par of 72, which gives an indication of the difficulty of some of the holes. Perhaps the best is the 573-yard, par-five eighth. A pond guards the putting surface and there are several large fairway bunkers to complicate matters.
The Starboard Course plays around 6,800 yards and has a slope of 122. It’s a bit more “player friendly,” with wide fairways and large greens and fewer bunkers than its sister track, which makes it more suitable for seniors and mid handicappers. Number 18 is a great finishing hole, a 534-yard par-five that can be reached in two by big hitters.
The course at Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club in Brewster has reopened after Jack Nicklaus and his design company totally revamped the classic track and brought to it a new luster and challenge.
Nicklaus did a wonderful job reshaping Ocean Edge, which is part of a resort amenity package that includes a luxurious hotel and a wealth of other sporting options. The course now plays 7,011 yards from the tips and there are 60 bunkers scattered about the layout. They are strategically placed and can come into play from the tee and on approaches.
Several of the holes from the existing course were lengthened, such as the 10th hole, which used to be a short par-four but now is a 420-yard dogleg left par-four.
Perhaps the new course’s signature hole is the 17th, which plays around 600 yards from the back. The par-five dogleg works its way up a hill and is a true three-shot par-five for even the longest hitters.
Falmouth Country Club is a town-owned club that has 27 holes of great golf--an 18-hole, par-72 championship course and the nine-hole “Talon” layout that appeals to players of all abilities, especially seniors, ladies and juniors.
FCC’s holes have a “Carolina” feel, and it is real treat to play here during autumn when the warm breezes blow off the Atlantic Ocean and the sun bounces off the tall pines that line much of the layout.
FCC’s Championship Course plays 6,665 yards from the tips and has a par of 72. There is a nice mix of short, mid-length and long par-fours that will have you hitting every club in your bag, both off the tees and on approaches to the medium-sized greens.
There are three par-fives on the back side of the Championship Course, including the 500-yard 15th, which can be reached in two by long hitters.
You might catch a glimpse of a pair of ospreys patrolling the water from their nest near the 10th hole. Sprays of beach grass that lines the bunkers on the 151-yard par-three 12th hole give the setting a feel of seaside links golf.
The Talon Course plays 3,455 yards from the tips and, despite its reputation as a “family” course, the track has quite a bit of bite, such as the monstrous, 495-yard par-four first hole. The fourth hole, a 295-yard par-four, can be reached by the big boppers.