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Course Rankings

Essex County Club

Manchester, Mass. / 6,555 yards, Par 70 / Points: 61.6493

Jeffery R. Bertch

May 03, 2021

79. Essex County Club

Donald Ross (1917)

Essex County Club is considered the first great Donald Ross design and perhaps his most intriguing. He wasn’t the original architect, but he served as its professional from 1909 to 1913 (until his design business became so lucrative he no longer needed the pro job) and lived on site, so he was able to tweak many holes. Ultimately, he returned to do a substantial remodeling in 1917. Unusual holes are the order of the day, from the flat opening nine with fuzzy chocolate drops covered in tall fescue grasses to the blind shots, both uphill and downhill, on the back nine. The par-3 11th, with its green resembling the deck of a sinking ship, and the downhill par-4 18th, shaped like an S around small hills, are special. The club insists its third green, created in 1893 and preserved by Ross in his remodel, is the oldest green in continuous existence in America.

100 Greatest History: Ranked since 2017. Highest ranking: 73rd, 2019-2020.

Watch Golf Digest’s latest “Every Hole At” course videos below:

Panelist comments, Essex County Club:

“Essex County Club may be the ultimate example of design variety. There's a wedge par 3 and a driver par 3, plus a par 5 that Rory McIlroy can't reach, and one that a 60-year-old can.”

“This might be Donald Ross' best design work from the first half of his design career. His house off the 15th tee is a fitting ode to the designer who called this his Massachusetts home. Really applaud the club for embracing its tradition with Ross, all the way to the character of his greens and the fescue mounds.”

“From the first tee set right underneath the clubhouse, you feel like you're going back in time with this magnificent layout. Rolling hills with some of the most interesting bunkering you'll see.”

“The course twists and turns with the best of them featuring fair but unconventional holes. Essex County was built within rock outcroppings and a nearby level plane.”

“The uphill, par-3 11th hole is one of the most memorable one-shot holes you'll play. The angles and trajectory used create a stunningly beautiful hole.”

Jeffery R. Bertch

Jeffery R. Bertch

Jeffery R. Bertch

Jeffery R. Bertch

Jeffery R. Bertch

Jeffery R. Bertch