WHITE CLIFFS COUNTRY CLUB: Dysfunction & Discrimination

White Cliffs Country Club is a private, gated golf community, that overlooks Cape Cod Bay, and the midget par 62, 3,681-yard course awkwardly meanders through a seaside community that many members claim is a dysfunctional golf program designed for high handicap players.

PLYMOUTH, Mass – Just about every component of White Cliffs Country Club, a private gated, golf community located six miles south of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant, is dysfunctional.

The spectacular ocean view of Cape Cod Bay on a clear summer day will impress first-time visitors, but don’t be deceived by looks, since White Cliffs has a few dirty little secrets that are spilling out for public discussion, while the hostility level among golfers is increasingly nasty.

First, White Cliffs CC is a goofy-designed 18-holes measuring only 3,861 yards from the back tees for a par of 62. The front side par is 33 while the back is 29. You’ll find eleven par 3s, six par 4s and one par 5.

It’s a midget course, and a nightmare to play because the property has ultra-narrow fairways and most greens are small and tilting. The U.S.G.A. course rating is 60.9 with a slope factor of 101.

So far, is this description motivating you to play?

In plain English, White Cliffs, developed in 1986, is the type of place where if you play it once you don’t ever want to return. Yes, the layout is that bad. It’s that ugly, yet there is a core group of self-described “Goons” that play every Wednesday and Friday. On an ascending scale of 1 – 10, White Cliffs rating is a solid 2.

Besides having a dysfunctional golf course, the golf culture at White Cliffs is unique, and it blatantly discriminates against the better players. The average U.S.G.A handicap is over 30 and many long-time members truly dislike good golfers, as demonstrated by written rules drafted by the golf committee, endorsed and applauded by head golf pro Rick Baptist, the Board of Governors and newly-hired General Manager, Drew Ford.

Some members of White Cliffs Country Club in Plymouth have renamed the 18th hole the $1 million hole, because that's how much it cost to save the uphill par 3, set atop a 200-foot bluff that overlooks the Atlantic, that is slowly crumbling to the beach below, with about 25 feet lost to erosion in the last decade.

With only a handful of single digit handicaps, the golf pro and golf committee actively discriminate against the better players. In a vicious, vindictive decision targeted to prevent a female golfer from repeatedly winning the ladies club championship, the golf committee drafted a policy which reads in part, "In order to participate in the Club Championship a member must have played and posted scores for at least 10 rounds at White Cliffs from 2019 opening day to entry deadline."

Could you create a more discriminatory written policy to try to prevent a player from winning the club championship?

Can we agree that with this written policy no one at White Cliffs will win any "good sportsmanship" honors?

Incredible that a gated, golf community of 350 owners would endorse such a discriminatory practice. Strange but true, but this act of discrimination is like badge of honor for the golf committee, Board of Governors and General Manager.

White Cliffs pro Rick Baptist runs a Blue Tee League on Saturdays where he strategically makes foursomes teams assigning the best players to play with the worst golfers. So, what you have are good players spending their Saturday mornings looking for lost golf balls on par 3s.

Every tournament is a handicap event. There are no gross score tournaments other than the club championship, which is scheduled July 27 – 28.

Sound like a fun place to golf?

If you have any golf game at all you’d rather have a root canal or enema, instead of the grueling obligation of looking for lost golf balls on every hole on a beautiful summer day, because you’re playing with a hacker who is just learning about etiquette and rules.

Outside memberships, if you are silly enough to join, cost about $3,200 annually.

White Cliffs, located just off Exit 2 on Route 3, is comprised of about 350 mostly condo owners. The golf is included in the high monthly condo fees, but many don’t play, preferring to play elsewhere.

GOLF NOTORIETY FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS

Depending on the size of your condo, combined condo & golf monthly fees range from $1,250 upwards of $1,600. Yes, it’s expensive for what you get in return, which is why membership is always rotating. And, everyone constantly complains about condo fees, assessments and the dysfunctional golf program.

The club has about 100 active players, and it’s safe to say that most of the membership took up golf late in life, since their golf games are horrendous. There is no practice facility and few take lessons looking to improve.

In the alternative, seems the unwritten rule is never seek to improve, so the cheaters can “cash” regularly in pro shop tournaments. Yes, there is a major sandbagger problem at White Cliffs. Also, the typical White Cliffs player-of-the-year can’t break 90 on the par 62 course.

Will there be change coming to White Cliffs anytime soon?

You bet there will. The issue of discrimination originated by a golf committee will eventually be decided by the courts. This issue will most-assuredly be watched by the interested parties in the golf industry, and it is guaranteed to bring shame, embarrassment and possible monetary damages to the White Cliffs community.

This is not the first time White Cliffs is in the news for all the wrong reasons. In 2008, a case was filed in Plymouth Superior Court between a group of White Cliffs homeowners and the White Cliffs Board of Governors, who refused to allow a vote to spend $1 million to repair the 18th hole, which sits atop a nearly 200-foot bluff that overlooks the Atlantic that has been slowly eroding to the beach below, with about 25 feet lost to erosion in the last decade. Some labeled it the $1 million hole.

Many years ago, more ugly notoriety for White Cliffs. A New England PGA golf pro named John Gordon was employed at White Cliffs and he was caught cheating in several Cape Cod Pro-Am weekly Wednesday golf tournaments. He became the New England pro poster boy for cheating with the White Cliffs affiliation.

Here is the question:

Is this discrimination when an ad-hoc, volunteer golf committee at a private, gated golf community requires a member to play a minimum of 10 rounds in order to participate in the club championship?

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Bob Pritchard
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Bob Pritchard

With all due respect to your perceptions and extrapolations about White Cliffs Country Club and its members allow me a moment the same courtesy in response. The course is above average for difficulty normally associated with an executive course. It is and on average is found always in stunning condition. My insite regarding condition is my opinion after learning to play as a caddie at the Country Club in Brookline and many years of play at Cyprian Keys in Boyalston and Shaker Hills in Harvard and oh ya George Wright in Hyde Park. As a 10 handicap at WCCC I… Read more »

David DeSmith
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David DeSmith

Requiring a player to have played ten rounds in order to compete for the club championship doesn’t seem draconian to me at all. But why would anyone who’s a good player ever want to tee it up here, much less compete for a club championship? Let the chops have their course and run it any way they want. There are plenty of other good tracks to play.