The 10 best New England golf trips you can take
Not all golf trips are equal. Weeklong buddies’ trips to Bandon Dunes or Streamsong, with 36 holes, beers and a firepit are great, but it can be tough to escape family obligations for so long. For those looking to spend quality family time and mix in a little golf, a trip to New England is a perfect compromise.
All six states, from Maine to Connecticut, have some great public golf near the outdoor destinations that make the Northeast one of the most popular summer getaways. Whether you’re heading to Acadia National Park, the White Mountains, Boston, Cape Cod or historic Newport, R.I., be sure to squeeze in a round … or two.
To help organize your itinerary, we’ve created this guide of the 9 best New England golf trips you can take, including options in each state. We focused these trips around the popular family destinations to help you make the most of your summer vacation.
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For some of the best courses with mountain views in New England, fly into Portland or Bangor and drive west to Sugarloaf and Sunday River, two top ski resorts with Best in State courses. Make sure to pack plenty of balls, as Sugarloaf is among the toughest ball-striking tests you’ll play. Round out the trip at Belgrade Lakes, where the clubhouse sits on a peak overlooking the surrounding lakes, giving perhaps the best view from a practice putting green in the state. Oh, and look out for Belgrade Lakes’ Lobster BLT special, which we named one of the best halfway house foods in America.
Carrabassett Valley, ME
Belgrade Lakes, ME
Though some other metropolitan areas like Philadelphia, New York and Chicago are more highly regarded for having great golf, Boston is still a fantastic option for a trip. There are tons of terrific options in the area, including Granite Links, which offers skyline views, and George Wright, which is among the best value courses in the county.
Hyde Park, MA
From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten: Fort Devens in Massachusetts was an army facility dating back to 1917, once a city unto itself, housing 10,000 soldiers, with its own water and sewer systems, its own schools, its own airport. Just 35 miles west of Boston, it was both a training ground and stopping-off point for troops fighting in both World Wars. Before heading to Europe in 1942, General George Patton taught tank maneuvers there.
In the late 1980s, much of the soil beneath the fort's thousands of acres was found to be contaminated with the residue of war: arsenic, chromium, nickel, lead, asbestos, battery acid, waste oil and incinerator ash. It became the focus of an enormous (and enormously expensive) clean-up, first by the military and, after the fort was decommissioned in 1995, as a federal EPA Superfund project.
New Hampshire is another great option for those looking to play with mountain views. The White Mountains are the backdrop for these three courses we’d play, though they play less like typical mountain courses. While in the area, consider driving up to the top of Mount Washington, the tallest peak in the Northeast.
Bretton Woods, NH
North Conway, NH
In addition to having fantastic food and a fun downtown, Providence has some great public golf options, including the Donald Ross-designed Triggs Memorial, which hosts the Providence Open. Take a day to head down to historic Newport. In addition to a round at Newport National, we recommend a tour of The Breakers, a Gilded Age mansion that was home to the Vanderbilts.
From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten: Authenticity is what golf architecture fans (and architecture writers) seek first and foremost when searching out a Donald Ross design. In my opinion, Triggs Memorial Golf Course in Providence, R.I. is a very pleasant, very authentic Donald Ross product, with the added bonus of being a public layout, available for all to study and enjoy.
The original hole-by-hole diagrams hanging in the grill room (minus the 18th hole, presumably now gracing the wall of some golfer’s mancave) verify that almost every hole and every bunker are still as Ross first envisioned them. This is one of those courses that Ross actually visited, according to newspaper reports of the day. His summer office was in Little Compton, in the southeast corner of Rhode Island, just a couple of hours away. Ross walked the land on at least two occasions, once before making a routing, then again while designing particular holes.
Yet another option for mountain golf enthusiasts, Vermont is tough to get to if you’re flying, but these Best in State courses make the trip worth it. If you’re flying into Albany, N.Y., we’d also recommend Saratoga National, which is on the drive from Albany to Rutland, Vt.
Manchester Village, VT
Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine is one of the most popular summer travel destinations in the country. This Mainer editor recommends popovers and lemonade at the Jordan Pond House, the Beehive Trail, and dinner on the water in Bar Harbor. As for the golf, Kebo Valley is the most convenient option, just minutes from Bar Harbor, and has terrific views of Cadillac Mountain. The tiny, sloped greens are usually in impeccable shape. The semi-private Northeast Harbor is open for public play during shoulder months and is a must play. If you’re flying into Bangor, stop for a round at nearby Penobscot Valley, a Donald Ross design.
Bar Harbor, ME
Northeast Harbor, ME
If you’re heading to Cape Cod for a summer trip, consider these quality public courses in southern Massachusetts and on the Cape. The two courses at Pinehills are two of the better public courses in the state. After the round, head to the nearby historic Plymouth, which was founded in 1620 as the first Pilgrim settlement.
Hartford, Conn./Springfield, Mass.
Harford and Springfield have several courses with great value, making this one of the most affordable trips in this guide. If you start in the Hartford area, be sure to play Keney Park and Wintonbury Hills, two of the Connecticut’s best public courses. As you drive north, stop at The Ranch and continue up to Crumpin-Fox, a challenging and scenic layout that often hosts a U.S. Open local qualifier.
About an hour north of Boston and 45 minutes south of Portland, the courses around Portsmouth are convenient options for a variety of itineraries. On the Maine side of the border, check out Maine’s top-ranked course, the old-school Cape Arundel Golf Club, the home course of the Bush family. Also check out the scenic Ledges Golf Club, which tests the region’s best amateur players each year in a U.S. Amateur qualifier.
If your ideal golf trip features as much off-course entertainment as it does tee times, then consider heading to either Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun, two of New England’s most popular casinos. Each have their own public golf courses (Foxwoods also has a private member course) that are among the best in the area.