It’s difficult to imagine in the mind’s eye a better way to spend a week during the fall then to wander the lovely Massachusetts peninsula known as Cape Cod and sample the great golf this special area has to offer.
Okay, I know northern New England, with its majestic mountains and crisp, clean days can dazzle like none other. And Southern New England has a wonderful array of championship caliber daily fee courses to choose from when the days start to shrink and the nights grow crisp. But during September, October and even well into November, the air of Cape Cod comes alive with what the locals call a “champagne quality,” that special cleanliness and ocean bite only felt when the cooler breezes sweep off the Atlantic Ocean or Cape Cod Bay on those brilliantly sunny autumn mornings and afternoons. It’s enough to almost make you swoon.
With 32 public access courses and 23 private clubs, Cape Cod offers a variety of choices for golfers. From championship layouts to great par-3 courses, getting a tee time on the Cape is never a problem during the fall. The public courses offer conditions that rival many private clubs. Then there’s that Cape Cod weather. The ocean breezes keep the courses cool in the summer and warmer in the winter and shoulder season.
Says Patti Lloyd, vice president of sales for the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, which is in a partnership with the area’s directors of golf, “The fall season offers the best golf conditions of the year. The weather is spectacular and the courses have plenty of availability during the week, although the weekends tend to book up. If you plan to play on the weekend you should book a reservation well in advance. Area lodging establishments offer great golf packages for mid-week stays, you can’t beat it.”
”The economy has affected the golf industry on the Cape as it has impacted other areas. The net result is that access to our courses has never been easier, so this is the best time to golf on Cape Cod.”
Lloyd says that many lodging establishments offer great packages as well as the golf courses themselves. You can check out www.capecodchamber.org
, and www.golfoncapecod.com
for access to various web sites that offer deals.
And for after golf, the Cape has so much do to do you can’t fit it all into one vacation--from the pristine beaches of the National Seashore, historic sites, shopping venues, restaurants that run the gamut from fine dinning to lobster shacks that can whip up the best tasting fish and chips you’ll get anywhere, fine hotels, resorts and bed and breakfast establishments.
Of course, it’s the golf you will come to Cape Cod for. So, let’s take a look at some of the best tracks the Cape has to offer.
Once known as Warham Country Club, Bay Pointe Country Club
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 terrain of Bay Point 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. www.baypointecc.net
Bayberry Hills Golf Course
and The Links 9 are located in the seaside town of Yarmouth. The original 18 holes at Bayberry Hills were designed by Cornish and Silva and opened for play in 1986. The Links 9 was opened in 1999.
The 18-hole track is a true championship layout, one that 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 tough 241-yard 17th hole. Number four is a super par-four, playing around 400 yards. It has 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 a deep putting surface.
The Links 9 is a really 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 and the beach. A number of the holes are dogleg in nature, 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 sized green.
The fairways on the Links 9 are fairly wide and thus forgiving, which adds to the pleasure of playing the track. It’s only a little over 3,300 yards from the tips, so you can score here, as long as you stay out of the bunkers and high grass that line most of the fairways. www.golfyarmouthcapecod.com
In contrast to the modern look and feel of Bayberry Hills, nearby Bass River Golf Club
is a 100-year-old course that the legendary Donald Ross renovated and expanded in 1914. The layout is routed 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. It’s a unique tee shot that can be daunting. The layout is on the short side, but the holes demand good shot making and a deft touch around the greens, a Ross trademark. www.golfyarmouthcapecod.com
A few miles away from Bass River in Sandwich is Sandwich Hollows Golf Club
, which offers views of Cape Cod Bay to the north from several holes. 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. www.sandwichhollows.comWaverly Oaks’s Golf Club
in Plymouth offers one of the best courses in New England. The club has 27 holes of golf and it’s Championship Course offers a challenging yet approachable routing that will test but won’t beat you up.
The best hole the front side might be the 529-yard, par-five fourth, which has water guarding the green, making it risky to go for the putting surface in two.
Much of the beef on the layout comes from its very good par-threes, three of which play over 207 yards, including the 234-yard third and the 251-yard 17th, with the latter being perhaps the most difficult short hole in the region. It demands a lusty tee shot over a waste area and a yawning bunker that sits some 15 feet below the putting surface.
In fact, the 17th is the culmination of a three-hole stretch that will test even the best players. The challenge begins with the demanding 474-yard par-four 15th and moves to monstrous, 636-yard par-five 16th before concluding at the 17th. Come through this trio of holes even par and can brag about it in the comfortable clubhouse after your round.
Waverly Oaks’ 18-hole course plays around 7,100 yards from the tips but there are four other sets of tees.
The club’s Challenger Course is still a great spot for beginners and high-handicappers to have some fun. The layout plays only 2,264 yards from the back and is a par-33. Conditions on the Challenger track are just as good as on the Championship Course.
The club has a beautiful 22,000-square-foot, shingle-style clubhouse overlooking the golf course. www.waverlyoaksgolfclub.com
In the Mid-Cape town of Brewster you will find one of the most extensive daily free clubs in the area. The Captains Golf Course
features 36 holes of superb golf on two very distinct 18-hole layouts. The club calls itself the Cape’s premier public golf facility and few dispute the claim. The conditioning here is always excellent, the golf is challenging but approachable for players of all abilities, there are two practice greens and a driving range, a restaurant, a friendly staff that is available for lessons, and a fully-stocked pro shop.
The Port Course 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. One of the best holes 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” than its sister layout, with wider fairways, large greens, and fewer bunkers than the Port Course, which makes it more suitable mid- and higher handicap players. Number 18 is a great finishing hole, a 534-yard par-five that can be reached in two by big hitters. www.captainsgolfcourse.comQuashnet Valley Country Club
in Mashpee is a decidedly scenic layout that is routed around 330 acres of Cape Cod cranberry bogs and the Quashnet River. This fact makes for a beautiful collection of golf holes that meander through a true natural setting that is typical of Cape Cod’s terrain.
The tree-lined fairways, panoramic elevated tees, tranquil ponds and manicured greens are a credit to the work of architect Geoffrey Cornish. The par 72, 18 hole championship course measures 6,601 yards and puts a premium on accurate tee and approach shot.
The first hole at Quashnet Valley is a tough one, a 590-yard par-five that bends to the right. There is a pond and wetlands on the right side of the fairway landing area to complicate the drive. And the ninth is a very good, short par-four that measures 369 yards from the back tees. There is water and wetlands pretty much all the way up the left side of the hole. www.quashnetvalley.com
Cranberry Valley Golf Course
, located in Harwich, is a well maintained course that features a superb routing that flows easily over beautiful terrain, which includes marshes and, of course, a few cranberry bogs.
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. Par is 72, with the course rated 73.4 and a slope of 133 from the back tees, which tells you something about the challenge you will find here. There are four sets of tees in all to meet the playing ability of any visitor.
Most of the course’s par-fours measure less than 400 yards, including the 309-yard 15th, which is approachable off the tee for the long hitters. All of the par-fives, except for perhaps the 18th hole, are reachable in two for the long hitters. The par-threes are very demanding, none more so than the next last hole, a brutal 229-yarder. www.cranberrygolfcourse.comThe Brookside Club
in Bourne prides itself as being a public access golf course with a private club feel. The track was originally designed by Michael Hurzdan in 1986 and later refined by John Sandford in 1996. The conditions are always good at this challenging yet playable layout.
The course starts with a very strong par-four, measuring 460 yards from the tips. One of the best holes on the course is the short, 324-yard par-four 15th. Big hitters can try and get close to the putting surface by hitting driver off the tee, but there’s a pond to the right side of the green and bunkers to the left. It’s a super risk/reward hole.
The 18th is another short par-four of 369 yards and it presents a chance to finish your round with a birdie.
So, for a sweet autumn golf excursion, hop in the car and head for Cape Cod. You won’t ever want to leave. www.thebrooksideclub.com