Best Golf Courses in New England
Fall colors are the image that many folks conjure up when they think of New England; appropriate given that the region has such a broad spectrum of golf options. From Connecticut to Maine, with mountains, oceans and meadows as its canvas, there’s no shortage of new and classic golf courses in New England to play. Of course, planning a golf trip in late spring or summer in New England is never a bad option, either.
Ideally, you’d want to mix in some New England’s best-known private clubs—like The Country Club of Brookline, site of the 1999 Ryder Cup, or Newport Country Club in Rhode Island—if you can, but the collection of great public courses, many of them designed by classic architects, are worth visiting as well.
Best Public Golf Courses in New England
Perhaps a good starting point is Cape Cod, where so many in not only the Boston area but the entire Northeast go for vacation. Among the impressive courses is the newly-named Cape Club, vastly improved since its days as Ballymeade Country Club. Much more playable now, it also boasts outstanding dining and practice facilities. While Cape Club is at the entrance to the Cape, there are many other outstanding public and resort courses deeper into the Cape such as Falmouth Golf Club and nine-hole gem Highland Links, on the tip of the cape in Truro. Highland Links, with its signature lighthouse, is the only other true links course in the United States aside from the layouts at Bandon Dunes.
Right next door to Cape Cod is Rhode Island, home to the Donald Ross-designed Triggs Memorial in Providence. It is Ross’ only true municipal golf course and a bargain to play. Other tracks worth playing include the Orchard Course at Newport National in Middletown and Winnapaug Country Club (Richmond), which has been around since 1922 and was renovated in recent years.
Back in Massachusetts, above the Cape, there’s plenty more great golf. One of the best golf courses in New England is Taconic Golf Club. Originally a 1927 Wayne Stiles-Van Cleek design, Taconic Golf Club was renovated by Gil Hanse and is located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts – land owned by Williams College. Other outstanding public courses in Massachusetts include Red Tail Golf Club in Devens, Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Cliffs, Crumpin-Fox Golf Club in Benardston and the scenic Granite Links Golf Club in Quincy.
Farther south in Connecticut, there’s 36-hole Lake of Isles Golf Club next to Foxwoods Resort Casino. Rees Jones designed the North Course there, which has terrific views from every hole and includes a couple of island greens.
If you head up to New Hampshire, you can vacation like royalty and presidents at the Omni Mount Washington Resort (see pictured) in Bretton Woods. There you can play another Ross gem, the Mount Washington Course, which opened in 1915. The course was meticulously restored in 2007-08 by Brian Silva, who utilized the original designs to bring out hidden and long-forgotten Ross signatures. This course is perennially ranked as New Hampshire’s top public course, but the historic resort also has another nine holes— the Mount Pleasant Course, which opened in 1895— worth checking out.
Vermont has some treats to go with its famous covered bridges and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream; Okemo Mountain Resort and Golf Club is the most notable, a heathland style course and one of the most beautiful golf courses in New England. Stowe Mountain Golf Club and Woodstock Country Club are other top plays with wonderful mountain scenery.
And if you make it to Maine, the land of L.L. Bean and President George H.W. Bush’s summer home, you’ll want to check out several terrific courses waiting to be played: Sugarloaf Golf Course in Carrabassett Valley; the Robert Trent Jones-designed Sunday River Country Club in Newry (both of these areas are known for their skiing); and Samoset Golf Course at Samoset Resort off the coast of Maine in Rockport. The last one is set on one of the most beautiful spots in America, with Atlantic Ocean views, challenging holes and peak conditions on a course that has improved decade by decade since it began as a nine-holer back in 1902.