New Englanders love their golf, and they love the variety offered in New England. So did the influential golf course designer, Donald Ross. In the early 20th century, he left his indelible legacy right across New England. Some courses have stunning mountain views; others run along lakes. You can play on seaside links and on historic courses. There are also big-money, star-studded PGA Tour events to watch: the $6,200,000 Travelers Championship at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, near Hartford, Connecticut and the $8,000,000 Deutsche Bank Championship at the TPC Boston in Norton, an hour south of Boston, Massachusetts.
Great New England Golf Trivia: Province Lake near Parsonsfield, Maine. At the 4th hole, you drive in Maine and putt in New Hampshire; at 6, you drive in New Hampshire and putt back in Maine!
With more than 100 courses, there is never a problem getting a tee time in Connecticut. In Bloomfield, just 15 minutes from Hartford, is Wintonbury Hills Golf Course. Regularly rated in the state’s top 10 courses, this is Pete Dye’s first championship design in New England. With 125 bunkers, this par 70 matches links-style with tree-lined holes and rolling fairways. Just a 30-minute drive north of New Haven is Lyman Orchards Golf Course in Middlefield with two courses – both ranked among Connecticut's Top Ten Public Golf Courses.
A stone's throw from the famous Foxwoods Casino is Lake of Isles in North Stonington. Set in the beautiful forests of Connecticut and crafted by acclaimed golf architect Rees Jones around a 90-acre lake, the Lake of Isles' North Course features a winning mix of challenge and scenery to provide an exciting round for golfers of all levels. The North Course was rated the #1 place to play golf in the state by Golfweek in 2013, listed in the Top 100 Golf Courses You Can Play by GOLF (2012) and in the Top 100 Resort Courses by Golfweek (2013).
There are 140 courses in Maine, with scenery ranging from mountains to lakes or seacoast. About a 1.5 hour drive north of Portland, Maine, is the spectacular course of Belgrade Lakes. The course features sweeping views and dramatic elevation shifts, has an "all dogs allowed" policy, and a Director of Outside Happiness. About the same drive time from Portland in a more westerly direction is Sunday River Golf Club, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. and dominated by the peaks of the Mahoosuc Range. This course was rated #1 in Maine by Golfweek in 2013.
Another highly scenic course can be found north at its sister resort: Sugarloaf. Visit for the fall foliage and golf school. For ocean views, play at the century-old Samoset Resort, near Camden, with one of the most challenging finishing holes in New England: the new 474 yard, par four 18th. This course boasts seven oceanside holes and ocean vistas from 14 holes. Or play Sebasco Harbor Resort, an hour north of Portland, where one of the signature holes is the 145-yard, par 3 second hole, in which your approach differs according to the height of the tide.
When it comes to golf, Massachusetts has a long tradition. Some of the USA’s top 100 courses are here: the Kittansett Club (Marion) and The Country Club in Brookline, site of the controversial 1999 Ryder Cup. Both of these are private, but near Boston, eco-golfers applaud Quincy’s Granite Links, where old quarries were recycled to create one of America’s best public courses according to Golf Digest. Equally challenging are the 27 public courses on Cape Cod, where the sea breeze is always a factor. Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club in Brewster was noted for offering the "Best Golf on the Cape 2010" in Boston Magazine’s Best of Boston. Also in Brewster, the top-rated Cape Cod National Golf Club is for members only, but accessible to guests of the Wequassett Resort. This championship, 6,954 yard, par 72 golf course sits on 150 very private acres with holes skirting cranberry bogs and kettle ponds. Closer to Boston in Plymouth, Pinehills Golf Club was created to rival the country's most prestigious golf clubs, bringing world class, daily fee golf to New England. The course is listed first on "New England Golf’s Best 25 Public Access Golf Courses" by New England Golf Monthly for 2010.
In the western part of the state, in the Berkshire Hills, Cranwell Resort is the home of a scenic and legendary 85-year-old course. Also in this area is The Ranch Golf Club, which was voted in the top 50 of all public golf courses by GolfWorld's 2010 Readers' Choice Awards. The famous islands off Cape Cod offer their own golf highlights. Located on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Farm Neck Golf Club rests on a peninsula (or "neck") of rolling farmland on the eastern side of the Island, overlooking Nantucket Sound. Stand on a tee and watch the boats sail by. Farm Neck was rated the #2 public course in New England by New England Golf Monthly. And on the island of Nantucket, head to Miacomet Golf Course, the island’s only 18-hole public course.
In New Hampshire, visitors can choose from more than 90 courses. Most are semi-private or public, a few are at famous resorts, such as the Omni Mount Washington Resort, where the stunning mountain views complement the Donald Ross-designed championship course that has been restored to its 1915 glory! Portsmouth Country Club, a semi-private facility, is regarded as one of the most scenic and challenging courses in the state. It offers several holes with incredible views of Great Bay, a tidal estuary filled with wildlife. Nearby, guests of the Wentworth by the Sea – another of New Hampshire’s grand historic hotels – can book tee times at the Wentworth by the Sea Country Club with its stunning oceanfront holes and "Scottish links" style course. And for special golf fun in New Hampshire, try top-ranked Owl’s Nest Resort & Golf Club in New Hampshire’s White Mountains where golf stops on one hole to allow the sightseeing train to pass through!
Thanks to its home-grown touring pros, such as Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade, Rhode Island has a high golfing profile. The state also has public-access courses that represent excellent value as well as a fair challenge. In Middletown, the Orchard Course at the Newport National Golf Club offers panoramic views of Narragansett Bay, the Sakonnet Passage and the Atlantic Ocean. Back in the 1930s, in the suburbs of Providence, Donald Ross designed the historic Triggs Memorial, his only true public course. Westerly has an even older Ross course. Carved out of rolling countryside, with juniper, oak and pine, the Winnapaug Country Club has challenged golfers since 1922. Meadow Book in Richmond is only 30 minutes from Providence and only 2 miles of I-95. The course was re-opened after an extensive redesign in the spring of 2010, and is now the longest course in Rhode Island.
Vermont is the second-least populated state in the USA, but Golf Digest ranks it among the 10 best golf states in the USA (#7). With easy access and lower than usual fees, Vermont golf has great appeal and great designs, such as Jack Nicklaus’ Vermont National Country Club, in South Burlington. By contrast, the first course at Woodstock Inn & Resort Golf Club was built in 1895. With water at a dozen holes, this provides a challenging day’s golf even for experienced golfers. And water is close by at Basin Harbor Club, on the edge of Lake Champlain and the first course in the state sanctioned as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Course. Just south of the scenic town of Woodstock, Okemo Valley Golf Club and Tater Hill Golf Club at Okemo Mountain Resort offers breathtaking views and access to championship heathland golf.
Set in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, the Jay Peak Golf and Country Club was recently declared the best in the state by Golfweek (Spring 2013). The Graham Cook–designed course features five sets of tees at each hole and a new Championship Clubhouse. In the center of the state, carved out of the glorious Green Mountains, is Killington’s Green Mountain National Golf Course, which also gets rave reviews and has activities designed specifically for women golfers. The Equinox, a AAA Four-Diamond Resort, boasts another top-rated course particularly stunning amidst the vibrant Vermont foliage. And for the adventurous, there’s the Stowe Mountain Golf Club, available to guests of the Stowe Mountain Lodge. This is a true mountain course that meanders along the slopes of Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak, reaching an elevation of more than 1,800 feet.
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