BOSTON, Mass – Do you prefer to play golf at public courses rather than private? If so, read on.
Of the 63 municipal golf courses throughout the Commonwealth, 53 operate by leases or vendor contracts for management, maintenance, food and beverage service and pro shop, leaving 10 run solely by city or town employees. Some may wonder if that’s a good thing.
Tee times are in big demand these days, so you probably don’t care who runs the place, just as long as you get a decent time, it doesn’t cost you a small fortune and it’s in good shape.
Boston, the capital of Massachusetts, is also the most populous city in New England. The large metropolitan area known as greater Boston is home to about 5 million people, ranking as the tenth-largest in the country.
Founded in 1630 by Puritans from the English town of the same name, Boston was the scene of several key events of the American Revolution, such as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill and the siege of Boston.
Today, Boston is a thriving center of scientific research with its many colleges and universities making it a world leader in higher education. And, although “Beantown” has one of the highest costs of living rates in the United States, it’s probably most noted for its avid (some say obnoxious) sports fans of the four major sports.
When in the Boston area, here are five choices to play golf, including two popular City of Boston-owned-and-managed – George Wright & William Devine – and three on the border.
George Wright Golf Course
420 West St.
Hyde Park, MA 02136
It’s taken a great deal of attention and commitment from former City of Boston Mayor Tom Menino (1993 – 2014), but George Wright Golf Course has evolved into one of the Bay State’s shining golf treasures.
The par 70, 6400-yard layout, designed by Donald Ross in 1938, has gained notoriety by being selected in 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015 as one of Golfweek’s “Best Courses You Can Play.” In 2009, Golf Digest voted George Wright “Best Municipal Golf Course in Massachusetts” and Golfweek named it the 14th “Best Municipal in the United States.” Just this month Golf magazine rated George Wright 3rd best “Muni in America in its top 30 list for 2021.
With 18-hole rates in the $60 range, the experience is affordable, fulfilling and enjoyable.
“George Wright offers 18 holes that manages to challenge even experienced players with its hills and often narrow playing areas,” said head pro Scott Allen. “We’ve earned a great reputation as a place to play and we strive every day to live up to it.”
William J. Devine Golf Course
1 Circuit Drive
Dorchester, MA 02121
A day playing William J. Devine Memorial Golf Course is a day unlike any other.
The relatively flat 110-acre 18-hole property, also known as Franklin Park, is short at 6,000 yards, with nines of 35-35-70, and steeped in golf history.
The Donald Ross-redesign was established as 9 holes in October 1896, and is the second oldest public golf course in the nation, behind Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx borough of New York City.
Among the historical notes:
* Georgian Campbell, the first woman to play golf professionally in the U.S., taught other women to play the game here.
* Willie Campbell, the player who won America’s first professional match became the first head professional here.
* Francis Ouimet, 1913 winner of the U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline honed his game here, as did Bobby Jones, the amateur who ushered the American game to the forefront of the world stage.
* Tiger Woods and Chi Chi Rodriquez have presented youth golf clinics onsite.
* In 2018, the course hosted the Massachusetts Amateur Championship.
* In recent years, course renovations have been done by Mark Mungeam of Mungeam Cornish Golf Design.
* The course is named after William J. Devine, former Commissioner of Boston’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Brookline Golf Course
1281 W. Roxbury Parkway
Brookline, MA 02467
Not all municipal golf courses are created equal, and that applies to Brookline Golf Club, an 18-hole, 6,200-yard par 70 facility once-known as Putterham Meadows, and later called the Robert T. Lynch Municipal Golf Course, named after a long-time employee.
If Beth Page Golf Course in New York is considered the ‘Mercedes’ of muni’s, then this place rates no higher than a broken-down ‘Volkswagen Beetle’, because a recent visit showed major neglect in maintenance of the fairways and greens.
However, this place is memorable for two reasons, although neither is complimentary of the golf course: No. 1 is the property is located across the street from The Country Club in Brookline — the famed private course to the legendary Francis Ouimet, who as an amateur won the 1913 U.S. Open, and host of the 1999 Ryder Cup. No. 2 it is just five miles from historic Fenway Park.
Set your expectations low here and it won’t disappoint. Designed by Wayne Stiles and John Van Kleek in 1933, Brookline Golf Course stretches out to 6300-yards over rough terrain, with lots of hard-pan dirt areas offering par of 70. Rates are reasonable at about $50 with $20 for cart.
Newton Commonwealth Golf Course
212 Kenrick St.
Newton, MA 02458
Depending on your expectations, you’ll find Newton Commonwealth Golf Course either likeable, but quirky and a good value for the money. Or, nasty, with too many tight, blind shots, over-crowded conditions and rangers pushing you to try to play in an unrealistic four hours.
The 35-35-par 70 features 18-holes only measuring 5300-yards. Located about 500 yards from Boston College, it opened in 1897 and Donald Ross recreated it in 1920. It’s a bargain with rates under $50 but this course has a few difficulties, so beginners may find the sand, water and narrow fairways to be a bit of a challenge.
Presidents Golf Club
357 West Squantum Street
Quincy, MA 02171
Presidents Golf Course is located eight miles south of Boston, minutes off the Southeast Expressway. The entire course is situated on 93 hilly acres and offers dramatic views of the Boston skyline, Neponset River, and the Blue Hills Reservation.
This is another course with wonderful history dating back to 1895 when it was founded as the original Wollaston Golf Club, which relocated to Milton in 1977. Presidents Golf Club, owned and managed by Norfolk County government, got its name because four presidents were born in Norfolk County – John Adams, John Quincy Adams, John F. Kennedy, and George Herbert Walker Bush.
Francis Ouimet used the course for his practice rounds prior to competing in the British Opens and Amateurs. He found the wind conditions and the wide variety of topography well suited for the preparation needed to compete overseas.
In the early 1970’s Tom Fazio was hired to redesign the course. The goal was to modernize it and accommodate public play. The course re-opened as the Presidents Golf Course at the Wollaston Recreational Facility in July 1977 and rates are fair at about $50.
Former pro Art Ciconni liked to refer to Presidents as “sporty.’
The sloping 5300-yard par 70 course features six par threes, eight testy par fours and four par 5s including the signature 15th double-dog leg. The wind, hilly terrain, and the influence of the Atlantic Ocean give the course a unique character that provides an excellent golfing experience.