Golf Staycation Trip 8: Volcano Hole & Secret Military Course - MASSGOLF

The Mystique of Cape Cod’s Volcano Hole and a Secret Military Course You Can Play

In 2020 we began the Golf Staycation series to encourage golfers from across the state to consider taking their golf vacations here, in Massachusetts. So what exactly is a ‘Golf Staycation’ you ask – it’s simply using a vacation day (or two) to explore some of the interesting public courses across the state.

Trip #8: The Cape’s Volcano Hole & Secret Military Course

By: Stephen Hanjack

On trip number eight, I wanted to prove that getting to the Cape during the summer isn’t impossible. Crossing the bridge at 7 a.m. on a Friday, there wasn’t a hint of traffic and the trip back may have taken 5 minutes longer, at most. So for your next golf adventure, I hope you’ll consider a day trip to the Cape.

Cape Cod Country Club

There is something about the mystique of Cape Cod CC that has had my attention over the past few years. At the top of the list of reasons is the famed Volcano Hole – a par 4 that has a green complex that perfectly resembles a dormant volcano.

The other reason why my ears have perked up when hearing ‘Cape Cod Country Club’ is the unknown future of the course. I am sure many of you have heard different rumblings of what the future holds for Cape Cod CC, and while I know as little as the next person about the situation, I felt it necessary to make the pilgrimage out to one of the Cape’s famed public tracks.

The 14th hole at Cape Cod CC is known as the Volcano Hole. (Mass Golf)

Having now made the trip over the Bourne Bridge to visit this Devereux Emmet and Alfred Tull design, I feel qualified to make the proclamation that playing CCCC is a rite of passage. Whether your intentions are to support public golf, or to be able to tell your grandkids that you once played CCCC, the trip is surely worth your time and money.

The Course

As you navigate your way onto the property of Cape Cod CC, you get a quick glimpse at the course’s beauty and what awaits upon your arrival. After an early wake-up call and long drive in, it’s enough to turn your slouching posture into that of a Prince.

Stepping onto the first tee, I audibly gasped and uttered the words “Oh my God.” The course looked perfect. Majestic. Colorful. Meticulously maintained. Dare I say, private. Two-toned mowing patterns and rolling valleys greet you on the opener and reintroduce themselves throughout the course.

On the second hole, you are greeted by one of the many long par-3s that dot the course. And on the next, you get a peek at some old-school golf architecture. Chocolate drop mounds, covered with fescue, and surrounded by bunkering give you a quick reminder that the course has been here for nearly a century.

The course eventually works you closer to Coonamessett Pond, and while you don’t see much of it, your golf ball certainly can. After a fun birdie opportunity on one of the many short par-4’s, holes 8 and 9 are especially breathtaking from a Titleist’s point of view.

Coonamessett Pond runs alongside the 8th and 9th holes at Cape Cod CC. (Mass Golf)

With the front nine behind you, and your tee shot off the tenth away, the introduction to one of Massachusetts greatest holes awaits. As you get closer to green, your first glance at the Volcano Hole presents itself. Of course, you won’t be playing it for another half-hour, which helps build the anticipation.

The thought of hitting a wedge into the crater of volcano tends to distract golfers as they play a couple of par-5’s and a bear of a par-3. Tipping out at over 250 yards, the 12th hole at CCCC is a bogey waiting to happen.As you tee it up on the 14th you can finally see it, in all of its glory. Driver is certainly not necessary, as positioning in of utmost importance. Standing somewhere in the ballpark of 120 yards away, you finally get the chance to hit the shot you’ve been waiting for all day. For me, it was one of the few full swings that went as planned, and it’s a shot that I will likely remember forever. That’s saying something.

A couple of short 4’s to conclude the round will leave most golfers with a couple of birdie looks and a smile on the face as they drive away.

 

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Falcon Golf Club

A military base is a fascinating place, especially for someone who has never served. Just over the Bourne Bridge is Joint Base Cape Cod, a full-scale home to five military commands. And on that protected property is a golf course you likely never knew existed.

Falcon Golf Club (Called ‘The Falcon’ by the regulars) was on the brink of extinction just a few years back, but thanks to the tireless work of new management it’s a course that is now in the best shape it’s ever been. Because the course is situated on an active military base, there are countless roadblocks for those looking to maintain and improve this unknown course.

Falcon GC has a full range and practice area along with a fun 9-hole layout. (Mass Golf)

But let’s get you there first. The number one thing people need to know is that you can gain access to the course by obtaining a one-day base pass. Of course, those with an active military ID or retired military ID can enter the base at their leisure.

Getting to the Course:

  1. Enter Joint Base Cape Cod via the Rotary Entrance (Connery Ave.)
  2. Drive up the road for a while, passing the cemetery. It will feel like you’ve been driving for a while.
  3. Eventually you will arrive at a small security gate. When you arrive, let them know you are here to play the golf course.
  4. Those looking to play without a military ID will simply have you pull ahead to get security clearance at the next booth.
  5. At the next booth, they’ll check your ID/Registration and run a background check. Just let them know you are there to play the golf course.
    1. Of Note: Anyone with a criminal record will be turned away.
    2. Also of Note: While most visits should only take 5-15 minutes, days of high-volume Base traffic could have patrons waiting longer.
  6. Questions/Trouble: Contact Falcon Club Manager, Brian Arthur at 508-968-6781.

The Course

The Falcon has stayed under the radar (pardon the pun) forever, it seems, mainly because it is a military-run facility. It’s one of only two golf courses owned and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard. The other is Bear Valley GC in Kodiak, Alaska, a short 91-hour drive from Boston.

Because they are not able to outwardly advertise or market the course, word-of-mouth has been the only mode of communication for Falcon GC. The course doesn’t even have its own website, they are forced to include all of their info on a single webpage. And it’s too bad because what lies on the Cape’s military grounds is one of golf’s hidden gems.

On a clear day the course is like a beautiful painting or piece of art. Rich shades of green lining the fairways and covering the putting surfaces. Soothing yellows and browns set the edges of the playing area. And an ocean blue sky perfectly rounds out the coloring.  After learning what it takes to upkeep this nine hole course, I gained a deep appreciation for every minor detail.

Every bit of green is cared for with passion at Falcon GC. (Mass Golf)

The only downfall is that it’s nearly impossible to capture with a camera. Because the land is flat, there are no elevated angles to grab eye-catching snapshots. And for obvious reasons, the drone remained stowed in my vehicle for this leg of the trip. With that said, it’s something you’ll have to see and appreciate with your own eyes.

The prettiest hole on the course has to be the par-3 third. A short hole, with an abandoned railroad track behind the teeing ground is protected by an evil, fescue-edged bunker. On the following hole, you can visit the left greenside bunker like I did and see the wooden bulkhead lining – a feature rarely seen on Massachusetts courses. A couple of holes after that, is the best hole on property. The 424-yard, par-4 sixth bends gently to the right, and has its two-tiered green protected by a pair of greenside bunkers. Stretching over 3,300 yards, The Falcon is every bit of golf course you could ask for.

It’s a small miracle that The Falcon is now in the conversation of other nine-hole hidden gems like Highland Links and Little Marion. When the new management team took over in 2019, one of the first things they did was talk a local legend out of retirement. Al Comeau, formerly the superintendent at Cummaquid GC & Holly Ridge, has quickly turned the grounds from moon-like to links-like with a crew of just 3. With some additional help from other local superintendents and industry veterans, the course is now vibrant and alive.

Now in the best shape it’s ever been in, The Falcon is seeing more and more visitors. And thanks to donations from other clubs in the area, things like bunker rakes, cup liners, tee markers, flags and even mowers have been upgraded, helping to maintain the course’s newfound identity.

Like some of its sister courses across the pond, Falcon GC plays very linksy. The firm turf allows for some longgg drives, and the slower green speeds allow for aggressive attempts at birdie. It’s also similar to small-town Irish and Scottish courses in that every dollar that the club generates, is reinvested into the course. So, when you bring a group of friends to play 18 holes, grab some food, and buy some merch, you are giving The Falcon the ability to become even better.

Take an adventure and go visit my friends at The Falcon.

Fair prices and friendly faces add to the charm of Falcon GC. (Mass Golf)

Itinerary (on a Friday in July)

7:00 a.m. – Cross the Bourne Bridge

7:30 a.m. – Balls in the air at Cape Cod CC

10:51 a.m. – Round complete

1:30 p.m. – Balls in the air at The Falcon

3:29 p.m. – Round complete

4:00 p.m. – Cross the Bourne Bridge

 

ALSO READ: STAYCATION HOMEPAGE | STAYCATION #5: TO THE END OF I-95 | FALCON GOLF CLUB WEBPAGE | CAPE COD CC WEBSITE

 

HAVE AN IDEA FOR OUR NEXT TRIP?

Have an idea? Want me to visit your course? Send your ideas for a special day of golf and I might show up – shanjack@massgolf.org.

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A special thank you to Dan Lovell, Brian Arthur, Tanya Molina and Lyle for making this trip possible.