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With the uncertainty around travel this year, we are encouraging our Mass Golfers to consider a Massachusetts Golf Staycation. What is a Golf Staycation? It’s using a vacation day (or several vacation days) on golf, right here in the Bay State. We can assure you that everything you enjoy about a golf trip can be experienced right here in Massachusetts.
Trip #4 – Autumn Golf, Leaf Peeping & Cider Donuts (By: Stephen Hanjack)
In my latest Staycation Trip, I discovered the perfect way to spend a day with the family. Interestingly, it also held up as a perfect way to spend the day by yourself. So, no matter your crowd, I encourage you to get outside and enjoy the beauty of Autumn in Massachusetts.
It’s no secret that this time of year in Massachusetts is truly special. The beauty, the weather and the ways to spend a day outdoors shouldn’t be passed up. On this latest trip, I found a way to enjoy everything in a day: golf, leaf peeping, more golf, an orchard visit, and festive halloween decorations. As I saw it, a little something for everyone.
ALSO READ: PAST STAYCATION TRIPS
When planning out this trip, I obviously wanted to make sure I created it around playing golf. And knowing that I wanted this trip to be one that could be enjoyed by the whole family, I needed to find the right courses – 9-holers that are playable enough for any level of golfer while also interesting and enjoyable for a low handicap golfer. I also wanted to make sure I found courses in Central Mass, to ensure that apple picking and cider donuts were part of the day. With all that in mind, I found two perfect courses for this trip: Southborough Golf Club and Berlin Country Club.
9 a.m. – Tee Time at Southborough Golf Club
11 a.m. – Leaf Peeping on the drive up to Berlin
12 p.m. – Tee Time at Berlin Country Club
3 p.m. – Apple Orchard Visit
4 p.m. – Enjoying Festive Halloween Lawn Decorations
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You never know what you’ll find when you take a Massachusetts Golf Staycation! The story from trip number 4 will be released later today. 🍂 ⛳️ 🍎 👻 #MassGolf #PlayMassGolf 📸 1-3: Southborough Golf Club 📸 4: Leaf Peeping 📸 5-7: Berlin Country Club 📸 8-10: Cider Donuts & Halloween Decorations
I also wanted to make sure I had a carrot (err, donut) hanging at the end of the journey. Something for the family members that aren’t golf junkies to look forward to, and a reason for them to be a good sport and give golf a try. It also made more sense to play golf first knowing that many apple orchards don’t open quite as early as golf courses do. With all of this in mind, I found it best to play golf first, do some leaf peeping between courses, play golf again, visit an apple orchard, and finish the day by getting lost on some random back roads to enjoy more of the beautiful trees, colors and festive Halloween lawn decorations. In my eyes, this is the perfect way to enjoy a fall day in New England. But even more importantly, it is a perfect way to enjoy a day together.
SOUTHBOROUGH GOLF CLUB
How is it Family Friendly?
One of the most important things to remember when trying to choose a golf course that can be enjoyed by beginners and avid golfers alike is finding one that eliminates the intimidation factor. I found Southborough to be welcoming, safe (as it shares land with Southborough Fire/Police), and most importantly operated by friendly people. The staff at Southborough might be the friendliest group I’ve ever encountered at a golf course. The course is also very affordable, just $20 walking for adults with junior and senior rates also available. For those that do enjoy walking, this is the perfect course for it. Generally speaking, it is a very flat course with only one gradual hill to navigate on hole number 5. Finally, the layout is pretty open with the length of holes being quite friendly as well.
What will a high-skilled avid golfer enjoy about Southborough?
In making my trip to Southborough, I was lucky enough to meet Dickie, who is the (unofficial) club historian and overall great guy. Dickie shared with me the storied history of the club along with fun facts about a famous past member. If you make the trip out to Southborough and are a golf history nut, be sure to ask for Dickie.
It is believed that the course opened in 1896, which makes it one of the oldest golf courses (likely one of the first 20) in the United States. You can tell that it was designed similar to those across the pond. The firm & fast conditions, deep greenside bunkers, and small greens definitely give an old-school feel. In digging through the COMPLETE HISTORY of the course, you can see that it has always been one for regular people. In looking through old golf periodicals the course once promoted: “Visitors’ charges – 50c, a day, $3.00 a week, $5.00 a month. Professional – None. Sunday playing permitted; no caddies.” And “Accessible by motor, train or electrics.”
Southborough also happens to be the course that famed golf course designer Brian Silva grew up playing. It is said that Silva became enamored with classic course design at a young age. He is not only known for his original designs, but also for his renovation and restoration work of great Golden Age architects like Seth Raynor, Donald Ross and A.W. Tillinghast. Some of Silva’s most known designs/renovations in Massachusetts include: Black Rock CC, Cape Cod National, GreatHorse, Red Tail, and Renaissance.
BERLIN COUNTRY CLUB
How is it Family Friendly?
Add Berlin Country Club to the list of courses that do not give an intimidating vibe. I lucked out again in finding a course that had not only a friendly staff, but a friendly group of fellow golfers as well. Berlin is known as a secret little gem by the locals, so even though I played on a Tuesday, the tee sheet was pretty full. Having arrived early, I was able to see group after group of friendly, regular people tee off.
Having traveled by myself, I was paired with Karen and Maria, two of the nicest people you will find on the golf course. As Karen and Maria showed me, Berlin is a course that can be walked and played very quickly. Although we played in less than 2 hours on this day, they talked about how they are usually able to get around in less than 90 minutes. Being a tree-lined course, this is the perfect time of year to experience it, with all sorts of beautiful, vibrant colors. Pro Tip (From Maria): Pick up a bunch of the of colorful leaves and bring them home to freeze them. Then, on Thanksgiving morning, break them out as part of your centerpiece/table decoration.
This course is also family friendly in that the length of holes will not dictate the day. It is an Executive Course with six par-4’s and three par-3’s. Finally, the cost of Berlin was family friendly as well. The normal weekday rate for adults is just $20, while juniors and seniors can take advantage of discounted rates.
What will a high-skilled avid golfer enjoy about Berlin?
Three things come to mind: the condition of the course, the hidden beauty and the strategy. Although we’ve seen some rain over the past two weeks, it has been a VERY dry summer in Massachusetts. But you would never know that playing at Berlin, it is as green and healthy of a course as I’ve seen all year. Speaking of green – it’s worth mentioning that the greens were quite nice as well, even the 6th green, if you could ever get your ball to stay on it.
As for the hidden beauty, this course is set deep down some small-town roads. It features colorful trees, stone walls, little ponds, and quite a bit of decision making. Many of the holes leave you with a decision, play it safe or send it. And with enough white stakes and other danger lurking, you might be better off leaving the driver in the bag on most holes. The second hole comes to mind – with a stream cutting across the fairway, a pond lurking off the fairway right, trees to the left, another pond to the right of the green, and some wooded O.B. long-and-left of the green. It’s the perfect example of a hole where you need to think your way through before deciding which club to hit off the tee.
While some golf trips are more about YOU, there are still ways to make it about US. I strongly encourage you to get the family out on the course before the season is over. It’s outdoors, safe, and a great way to teach lessons of perseverance, honesty, and confidence. And who knows, maybe they’ll become hooked…kind of like me and you.
Favorite Hole at Southborough – 1, perched little green with false front, graveyard in the background, spooky.
Toughest Hole at Southborough – 5 (Maybe 3 from the back tees)
Best Feature at Southborough – Bunkering. Well designed, well placed, a little intimidating.
Favorite Hole at Berlin – 2, great view from tee box, fun little hole that requires strategy.
Toughest Hole at Berlin – 6, but I can see why some would say 9.
Best Feature at Berlin – Very green and very healthy, solid putting surfaces.
Fun Fact of the Day – You can freeze colorful leaves and use them for decorations on Thanksgiving.
Random Thing That Made Me Smile – Hearing the excitement in Dickies voice as he talked about the history of his course, Southborough GC.
Thing for Low Handicapper to Enjoy – Enjoy the history and old school/links-ish style design at Southborough, Enjoy the risk/reward possibilities and decision making that is required at Berlin.
Thing for a Higher Handicapper to Enjoy – Enjoy the firmer fairways at Southborough, which will help increase your distance off the tee. Enjoy the friendly length of holes at Berlin that makes for a more enjoyable round as well.
Pace of Play – Approx. 1:30 at Southborough (AM Round), 1:50 at Berlin (PM Round)
Friendly People? – The Friendliest
How Was The Weather? – Quarter Zip Season!
Best Part of Doing This With The Family – Knowing that you’ll see the smiles on their face when they finally get to the cider donuts.
Best Part of Doing This Alone – No one could judge you on how many cider donuts are consumed.