- Golfer Benefits
Stacked together, they look like monster home run lengths (in yards not feet, of course). At these lengths, you might be inclined to think this entire collection of par 4s would all play downhill, but that’s not always true. In fact, don’t be surprised to be playing as much uphill as downhill some of these holes. Though they may look and feel like par fives, these two-shot brutes are among the toughest par 4s you’re likely to face at a public course in Massachusetts. Be proud to walk away with par on any of these holes.
Editor’s Note: To create a consistent standard for our list, we measured from the back tees at each public course.
Like many courses on this list, a great drive is crucial when attacking these holes. While it may not be the longest on this list, the 11th at Taconic certainly has the edge when it comes to the view. Before putting the peg in the ground, it’s hard not to marvel at the sweeping Green Mountains in the distance, which could easily make you forget you’re still in Massachusetts. The 11th at Taconic is a good time to fill up some water and say hello to other groups on the course playing the 10th, 13th, and 14th holes.
Pro Tip: “It’s a bear. Off the tee, you’re better off keeping it more to the right to avoid the fairway bunkers and trees that line the left side. The key is the second shot, which should be played one or two clubs less because when it hits, the ball can roll right off the back. The green is fun (slopes right front to back left). All positions are good. Be wary of the cavernous bunker that also comes into play on the 8th hole.” — Mace Foehl, longtime Taconic member & current member of the Mass Golf Board of Directors.
Architect: Wayne Stiles (1927, Redesign), Gil Hanse (2009, Renovation).
Local Attractions: Waubeeka Golf Links. We could recommend the arts or natural areas in the region, but if you make a long trip out to play Taconic, you’d be missing out if you didn’t add Waubeeka to the list as well. With its well-manicured greens, handcrafted wooden statues, and more stunning mountains, Waubeeka offers a fun layout, with some holes taking inspiration from some of the best in the world. For example, the 13th has stairs that sit between two greenside bunkers helping golfers make their way to the severely elevated green, mirroring the 10th Yale Golf Course (Seth Raynor design).
Aptly named ‘Long’, this hole may not get the most attention (that belongs to the final two holes), but it is no surprise that it stands as the No. 1 Handicap hole on this spectacular layout. An accurate drive will still leave you with a tricky decision to make. That’s because a large bunker lines the right side of the hole for the final 140 yards, which makes life more difficult if you’re trying to lay up. There’s a false front to the green, which slopes hard back-to-front.
Pro Tip: A well-struck tee shot with a slight draw will catch the sharp downslope in the landing area and will make this long hole play surprisingly short. A green surrounded by a close-cut chipping area is framed by large oaks and pines.
Architect: Brian Silva (2001).
Local Attractions: Fort Devens Museum. Fort Devens was once New England’s largest Army Base with more than a million men, women, and children having passed through its grounds since it was established as an army post in 1917 during World War I. Aside from a beautiful golf course, there’s a museum with artifacts, documents, and photographs that chronicle the history of Devens from its earliest days.
Located on the grounds of the former Magil Dairy Farm, Highfields plays over 220 acres of dramatic terrain over the Blackstone Valley. Holes 15 and 16 could very well be a pair of par-5s, but you only get that extra shot on the 15th. Tee shots on the 16th play uphill with a relatively wide landing area. A large pond is just beyond the driving area and runs up the left side to just short of the green.
Pro Tip: For your second shot, you need to trust your distances as you make a decision. Do you go for the green (190 to the center from the end of the fairway) and bring the pond into play or do you lay up and play for on in three? The green is protected by large oak trees to the right and a bunker left and short. Either way, pick a target and just do your best to hit a good golf shot that will put you in a good spot.
Architect: Mungeam Cornish Golf Design (2002).
Local Attractions: DCU Center & Polar Park. Located less than 10 miles outside of Worcester, you could play golf and catch a game all on the same day. Late in the year, if you select an early weekend time, you could catch an afternoon hockey game as the Worcester Railers play in the AA equivalent of the NHL. In the spring and summer, you could play nine holes and watch nine innings of Worcester Red Sox (WooSox) baseball.
Offering incredible views of Boston, Granite Links features 27 challenging holes over dramatic terrain. The opening shot on the Milton course, which was the nine holes to open back in 2003, tests golfers right out of the gate. The backstory of Granite Links is fascinating in its own right. By transporting 13 million tons of material from the “Big Dig” project, it allowed architect John Sanford to cap the current landfills and reclaim wasted acreage, making for a spectacular golf facility just outside of the city.
Pro Tip: “Hitting it to the right side of the fairway will give you a shorter more direct line to the green, however, you will be blocked out of a view due to the hill. A demanding second shot ranging from 150 to 180 yards is required into a green that slopes from left to right and front to back. Getting it anywhere on the green, giving your chance to walk away with a par, is a great start. If you are not careful or a loss of focus can turn this into a double really quick.” — Nick Tedeschi, co-head golf professional, Granite Links.
Architect: John Sanford (2003).
Local Attractions: Marina Bay. Granite Links offers award-winning cuisine & atmosphere on its grounds. But if you’re looking to explore more of Quincy, you can venture to the Marina Bay area, which features several establishments and a 685-slip marina. Along the boardwalk is Break Rock Brewing Co., which offers world-class beer in a laid-back environment.
In our longest par-5s series, we highlighted 16th at The Ranch, which is dubbed “The Ski Hole”. The 15th at Blackstone National could very well be an excellent ski run itself. This dog leg left drops 100 feet from tee to green. Two fairway bunkers will swallow up anything short of the tee and to the left, while two deep bunkers protect the green on the right of the green.
Pro Tip: A safe drive is straight away giving you 200 yards to the green. An aggressive drive is right over the bunkers and shortens the hole considerably. This sets you up with a short iron and a birdie opportunity.
Architect: Rees Jones (1999).
Local Attractions: Purgatory Chasm. Don’t let the name scare you away. Purgatory Chasm is a unique natural landmark offering exciting adventure. Follow trails to rock formations such as The Corn Crib, The Coffin, and Lovers’ Leap. Much like Bethpage Black, Purgatory has its own warning sign which reads, in part: “Purgatory Chasm is a bold and unique landscape. Hikers beware of the dangers of this trail…this trail is one-half mile long and climbing is involved. Hikers should be physically fit.”
There aren’t many bells and whistles to the 8th at Dennis Pines, a lush, long, tree-lined course that is popular with mid-Cape residents. This hole is another example of a long par-4 where you won’t get much extra roll on your approach shot. Hope for winds out of the south to give your ball some extra push. Headwinds out of the north can make this hole a brutal test. Many golfers will look ahead to the start of the back nine as holes 10-11 are two beautiful dog legs that play around a large pond, while the 12th is an excellent par-5 and one of the signature holes on the course.
Pro Tip: Playing mostly up-hill, tee shots that favor the left side of the fairway will help avoid the right greenside bunker, the lone one on the hole.
Architect: Henry C. Mitchell (1966).
Local Attractions: Sesuit Harbor Cafe. Lobster rolls and Cape Cod go together like apple pie on the 4th of July. The small, family-owned is located right on the water and features a raw bar, multiple seafood options, and, of course, a legendary lobster roll. Fair warning, Sesuit is currently closed for the season, but a good backup is the extremely popular, Red Cottage Restaurant, which serves its lobster roll on a hot dog bun with fries and cranberry coleslaw.
Hit your longest drive of the day here up the middle. Stay out of the mounded trees on the right. Now hit your 2nd longest shot of the day and you’ll get home. Hopefully the wind is not in your face, and don’t forget to take in the view. Playing Kettle Brook’s 9th at dusk is a spectacular sight. As the approach shot falls from the sky, the setting sun is nestled beyond the horizon.
Pro Tip: The drive needs to be properly positioned between a small collection of trees on the left and a pesky lone tree on the right. This position sets up a clear approach, played down to a tricky, two-tiered green that sits well below the fairway. The 9th’s last line of defense is a greenside bunker protecting most of the left side.
Architect: Brian Silva (1999-2000).
Local Attractions: Seven Saws Brewing Co. While Kettle Brook is also a short drive outside of downtown Worcester, there are plenty of other places to kick back and relax outside the city as well. Seven Saws opened in 2018 and offers a cozy taproom with a rotating selection of craft beer, local wine, and hard cider. There are usually food trucks, but Seven Saws has a BYOF (bring your own food) policy.
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