YARMOUTH, Mass – Cape Cod is synonymous with summer fun and vacations, at least for this native New Englander (born and raised in Connecticut). It was a go-to, convenient destination for August family getaways with days of frolicking – body surfing at Nauset Beach, competitive mini-golf outings with my siblings and daytrips to P-Town (Provincetown) to captivate in the welcoming environment, full of art, colors, energy and an abundance of food and festivities.
As an adult, I often returned to the Cape for new activities which morphed into autumn trips, biking a portion of the 27-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail or hopping ferries for island stays on the (Martha’s) Vineyard and Nantucket.
Through my lived experiences I can attest there are endless options of fun to be had on Cape Cod with 115 beaches, 42 golf courses (27 public; 15 private), 53 harbors and 14 lighthouses. There are no tall buildings except for the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown and endless shopping and dining options, according to Patti Lloyd, Sr. V.P. Sales at Cape Cod’s Chamber of Commerce.
Only recently has golf become a preferred recreational activity, and now, as I transition into semi-retirement, it’s my passion and has leaped to the top of the list. My first official golf trip to the Cape, in many ways linked me to my past but re-energized me for what’s to come. Traveling with a group of avid golfers we enjoyed three distinctly different courses in three days.
BLUE ROCK in South Yarmouth: When we arrived at Cape Cod’s first championship par-3 golf course, the 1962 vintage sign hanging above the door of the pro shop was a positive sign. The same year I was born (1962) Pete Davenport hired Geoffrey Cornish to design this mid-Cape jewel that boasts five sets of tees ranging from 2,154 to 2868 yards.
We enjoyed a picture-perfect spring day (in early May) with blue skies, greens of many hues and glistening shimmering ponds that greeted us before we even stepped to the first tee. This is a casual, impeccably groomed course that is as fun as it is challenging and it has earned top ratings from Sports Illustrated and GOLF Magazine, not to mention accolades in Cape Cod Life multiple times.
In 2022, well over 30,000 rounds were played at this popular course, which is open year-round, according to Matt Pita (Blue Rock’s Director of Communications). Despite a few uphill holes, most golfers (ranging from day trippers and vacationers to many locals) walk Blue Rock.
DENNIS HIGHLANDS: This playable and enjoyable course is the sister course of Dennis Pines. The Highlands course is situated on 175 acres of pine and oak covered rolling ground in the village of Dennis. The par 71, 6,500-yard championship course first opened in 1984 and was renovated in 2018. The Jack Kidwell and Mike Hurdzan design has an impressive, expansive practice range before you open your round and are welcomed by rolling hills, open fairways, and straightforward greens.
It’s a traditional inland Cape Cod course lined with plenty of trees and wooded areas, offering a fair number of sand traps with straight forward greens, among them a few multi-tier challenges and various undulations. The Highlands Restaurant was buzzing for lunch and the lobster roll, onion rings, generous sandwiches and salads were delicious. A must for pre-or post-round meal or beverage.
BAYBERRY HILLS: They say three is a charm so our final and third day included a round at the Geoffrey Cornish & Brian Silva design built in 1986 and opened July 1988. This well laid out experience is enjoyed by golfers of all levels and includes 27 holes with championship tees bringing you to 7,200 yards. The facility has an expansive grass tee driving range with a practice bunker, an oversized practice putting green and a chipping area.
The fairways at Bayberry Hills are spacious and the greens are oversized but there are still plenty of challenges including some monster sand traps. The wooded areas were a haven for the wild turkeys to roam and keep us company. Among my favorite holes were No. 4, the lone water hole on the course with a vintage Cape Cod look and feel, and No. 18, an uphill dogleg left for a dramatic finish. There are plenty of challenges in between with hazards, fescue, and trees in your sight lines.
As for the Links 9 course at Bayberry Hills, the architecture is the opposite of the tree-lined original course, giving you a different experience with rolling hills, no trees and wispy fescue. Opened in 1999, the Links 9 consists of short par 4s, two long and windy par 5s and a pair of par 3s. The finishing hole is an amazing par 3 over a pond.
FUN AND EXTRAS: For more fun, and a diversion from golf, we visited Ryan’s Family Entertainment in South Yarmouth where video games, skill games, arcade games, axe throwing and bowling (candlepin and 10-pin standard) can provide hours of fun no matter how old you are. Ryan’s is a family-owned business with 10 locations.
Captain Parkers Pub is where we headed for traditional Cape Cod fare. Can you say chowda, chowda, chowda? This rich, creamy delight was a table favorite for our appetizer and has earned top honors at every major chowder festival, been mentioned on The Food Network numerous times and even made an appearance on Jeopardy. We enjoyed a variety of fresh seafood from mouth-watering scallops, stuffed quahog and cod, but most importantly, we made room for the warm brownie sundae!
After golf we enjoyed a comfortable stay and warm hospitality at Aiden, the boutique brand of Best Western at Cape Cod, 476 Route 28, in West Yarmouth. Kudos to General Manager Brenda Smith and her staff who went above and beyond the call of duty to make us feel most at home. Aiden offers stay-and-play golf packages with attractive pricing.
Our trip to the Cape was sheer pleasure and my one disappointment was it was too early in the season to witness the hydrangeas in bloom. But the region’s blue, pink, and white signature flowers will be on full display when the Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival’s annual cape-wide celebration takes place with ten days of open gardens July 7-16, 2023, which means, I’ll be back!
On the web: CapeCodChamber.org