PLYMOUTH, Mass – When the front gate opens at White Cliffs Country Club, a jolt of good karma and high expectations overwhelm the first-time visitor, whether attending a wedding or playing golf.
To outsiders, not familiar with lifestyle within a gated, golf community, there’s a perception of exclusivity, privilege and mystery. With a reputation of being a spectacular location to host a wedding, White Cliffs is unique in many ways, but it offers a pathetic, awkward and miserable golf experience.
Some things never change, but should, and the layout at White Cliffs is prime example of disaster, dysfunction and danger at almost every portion of the 18-hole, par 62, 3,961-yard, midget-size golf course.
If there’s one word to describe White Cliffs it’s “awkward.” Honestly, three descriptive words are: (1) Dreadful (2) Dysfunctional (3) Dangerous.
As a midget-size layout, White Cliffs Country Club offers 18 frightful holes. Not because of poor condition, but because the fairways are ultra-narrow, the greens are a little bigger than postage stamps and there are zero bailout areas.
It is target golf all the way around, so you can expect a day of frustration when hitting good shots and getting lousy results.
The course breaks down to eleven par 3s, six par 4s and one par 5. There is no flow to the design and ten holes are breathtakingly close to some of the 350 mostly- condos that encompass the property.
A former member once-quipped, “This is not a place you want to play over and over again. When you combine beginner golfers on a tight layout with small greens, it’s a recipe for disaster.”
How horrible is the golf experience?
Well, here are a few sour facts. Fourteen of 18 holes have out-of-bounds. The property borders Route 3 (Exit 2) producing a steady barrage of noise on holes 4 through 11. There is no practice range. And although hole No. 18 overlooks Cape Cod Bay, with picture-postcard panorama, the par 3 measures 160-yards uphill to a ridiculously tiny green of about 2,000 sq. ft.
The fifth hole is another bizarre uphill par 4 with a two-tiered green that slopes dramatically from back-to-front. The only thing missing on the putting green is a clown’s mouth since many downhill putts will roll of the surface.
For women, the par 3 thirteenth hole is unremarkable. It measures 50 yards with a narrow, domed green. For men, it’s 74 yards.
The par 5 tenth hole has electrical poles and wires running down the entire right side of the fairway. If you hit the pole or wires you get a mulligan. Most of way, the fairway width is 20 yards.
Not only is the golf course ghastly, the golf program at White Cliffs is hideous. Head golf pro Rick Baptist has been there for 20 years and his one-size-fits-all agenda is repulsive to good players, of which there are few, since only a handful of the 200 active members carry a single digit handicap index.
Instead of creating two divisions of players, Baptist’s system pairs up the worst players in the club, some who are new to the game, with the best players. The club’s web site promotes the Blue Tee, Red Tee, Couples and Senior Leagues, which might look attractive at first glance, but in reality, what happens is that good players spend a great amount of time looking for lost golf balls on par 3 holes.
If that’s your idea of a fun way to spend a Saturday morning then by all means join, and expect to pay the annual membership rate of $3,200. There’s a reason the place is begging for new members, and why the average handicap is over 30.
Same thing with Couples program. If you’re are looking for healthy competition you won’t find it at White Cliffs, it’s one-hundred percent social golf. Once again, the pro, in his ill-advised format, will team you up with some players who regularly hit grounders, frequently whiff and are clueless of golf etiquette.
It doesn’t take long to figure out that Couples program can be painful and a waste of time on Sunday mornings.
The golf committee is composed of imprudent, arrogant members who decided a few years ago that a member must play 10 rounds of golf to be eligible to participate in the club championship. They don’t want a player to “helicopter” into the club championship, even if the member pays all dues, prefers to play away, and despises the course and the golf program.
Also, the club championship is the one-and-only tournament with a gross score format.
Several years ago, a group of men wanted to purchase a stone bench for $1,000 and have three popular, deceased members names engraved and memorialized on the bench. The haughty committee nixed the plan. A stunningly classless act!
To put things in perspective, White Cliffs is a happy place for many retirees and folks over 55 who have time and money. For many it serves as a second home, and it’s also a home-base for singles, divorces and drinkers.
Unique to White Cliffs is another dirty little secret. There is danger at every turn: 7 of the 18 holes intersect with paved roads designed for automobiles, not golf carts. A bad combination.
After playing holes 1 – 3, you must cross a major state highway (Route 3A) to access the rest of the course. There is no crosswalk signal and cars travel up to 50 miles per hour on that stretch of Route 3A. Proceed with extreme caution.
Sadly, in November 2008, an avid tennis player and eight-time women’s club champion, was killed when a car plowed into her golf cart. She had crossed back over Route 3A from hole No. 11 enroute to 12 tee when the tragedy happened.
Let the buyer beware if you think White Cliffs Country Club is your dream golf community. Amenities include restaurant, indoor pool, gym, tennis and beach. Two-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom condos fetch about $200,000.
Expect to pay a hefty monthly condo fee that includes golf of about $1,200. and assessments will crop up every other year.
White Cliffs Country Club has great potential but it is deficient and flawed in many ways!
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer is a longtime owner and member at White Cliffs)