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Autumn in New England evokes thoughts of
multi-colored leaves, sweeping vistas of dazzling mountainsides, quiet country
back roads and delightfully cool weather.
For golfers, autumn is also a time to enjoy what’s
left of the season, a chance to get one last road trip in before the cold north
winds starts to blow and we are chased inside for several months.
The crowds of summer have long since gone, the
courses are in peak condition and the daytime temperatures are still warm
enough to make a round pleasurable.
Here’s a look at a few Western Mass gems to play
Golf Club in Southwick has gained a reputation as one of the top daily fee
clubs in the region.
The Ranch is a mix of open and woodland holes that
never fail to surprise and challenge. The layout plays 7,175 yards from the
The first hole, a 510-yard par-five, has a massive
fairway that shrinks as you approach the putting surface, which is guarded by
water to the left.
The 441-yard par-four fourth is one of the prettiest
holes on the course. It starts with a carry across a small ravine to a fairway
that flows up toward the green. The hole is framed by tall pines and guarded by
fairway and greenside bunkers.
The 540-yard par-five ninth and 618-yard par-five 16th
play dramatically downhill and afford great views of the surrounding
countryside. A well struck tee shot on the ninth will tumble down a hill and
leave the player with a choice of either laying up for a short third shot or
going for the green in two by challenging a wetlands area in front of the
The 195-yard par-three 17th, which plays
across water, may be the best short hole on the track.
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.
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
Donald Ross designed half of Tekoa Country Club, located at the foothills of the Berkshire Hills
of western Massachusetts in Westfield.
Ross created 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 holes of his own to today’s present
Recent work has added about 400 yards of length to
the layout, refreshed the course’s classic bunkering system, and enhanced
Playing just 6,215 yards from the tips, Tekoa’s
small and undulating greens are difficult to find and a good short game is
essential to scoring well here.
All four of the course’s 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.
While on the short side, just 6,285 yards from the
tips, Shaker Farms Country Clubin
Westfield is a unique track that contains some of the most interesting holes
you’ll find anywhere.
Routed through mature stands of trees, where
wildlife and solitude are abundant, this Geoffrey Cornish design is being
brought back to its original luster by new ownership.
The front side has two great par-threes, the
demanding 225-yard seventh and the 165-yard ninth, the latter playing across a
The back side features a somewhat eclectic mix of
holes. The 318-yard par-four 10th plays uphill from the fairway
landing area. The 12th, a 144-yard par-three, has a green flanked by
tall pines and is the first of two very pretty short holes on the side.
The 17th, a par-five measuring only 457
yards from the tips, is a dramatic dogleg right that plays downhill off the tee
and then back uphill to an elevated green. A stream wanders along the left side
of the fairway landing area and bisects the fairway about 180 yards from the
green. It’s one of the toughest short par-fives in the area.