As you might expect in a city surrounded with storied private golf clubs such as The Country Club in Brookline, it’s easy to find top-notch public golf in and around Boston. You’ll find a mix of budget-friendly municipal courses, luxury layouts, and vintage classics. With golf season running from April to November, you’ll want to save some rounds for September or early October for prime leaf peeping. Consider this your short-list, then play on!
Plus, when you rent a car with Avis you can sneak in a little golf on any of these great courses with $25 off your round if you book through Golf Now – pickup available directly from Boston Logan International Airport.
Red Tail Golf Club
You won’t get bored at Red Tail, named after the hawks that fly the fairways of this Brian Silva Audubon International Signature Course, and located just under an hour northwest of the city. “Fun” is a word that often describes the layout, built on a former army base. There are nods to its military history in the old guard tower on the 18th, and the vestiges of the ammunition bunkers that give the 17th hole its name. Bring your own ammo, as the course, which tops out at 7,006 yards, can play long with some testy elevation changes. The good news is that the fairways are more generous than your typically tight New England track. Many of the greens are open so you can go low on your approach, but there are plenty of bunkers, blind approach shots, deep swales, and steep greenside drop-offs to keep things interesting. Though nothing fancy, the 19th hole overlooking the 18th green is a sweet spot to grab a burger and beer—or better yet, the homemade chili or chowder.
Granite Links Golf Club
For a complete golfing challenge with top off-course amenities and eye-popping views of the Boston skyline and harbor, it’s hard to beat Granite Links, a 27-hole semi-private facility just 10 miles south of the city. An honoree on the 2015-16 “Top 100 Golf Courses You Can Play” by Golf Digest and No. 18 on Golf Digest’s “Best Courses in Massachusetts 2017-18,” Granite Links is always impeccably conditioned. Any combo of the three nines (Quincy, Milton, Granite) play around 6,800 yards from the tips. Open and hilly, with a links feel courtesy of bunkers and fescue, the course toughens up considerably when the wind is up, while the granite outcroppings remind you of its past life as a quarry. For post-round play, there’s the Tavern, named one of the top 50 19th holes in the country by Golf Digest, and Crossing Nines, a “turnshack” next to the lighted driving range. A destination in its own right with live music, a lively bar and good food, stick around for dinner and the glittering views of Beantown at night.
George Wright Golf Course
The investment the city has put into this 1938 Donald Ross gem is paying dividends. George Wright, just 10 miles southwest of downtown Boston, and in great shape for the amount of play it gets, is one of the top 10 public courses in Massachusetts. Not too shabby for a muni that was down and out a little more than 10 years ago. A par-70, it plays to just 6,440 yards but offers plenty of classic Ross challenges—enough to keep the players at the 2018 Massachusetts Amateur Championship scrambling. Expect strategic, top-level golf holes with blind shots, doglegs, well-protected greens, and tight fairways tunneling through chutes of trees. The downhill par-3 17th, framed by four shapely greenside bunkers, is one of the prettiest holes you’ll find. Though walkable, you’ll definitely get a workout traversing the hilly terrain. The huge, brick Norman style clubhouse is pretty spectacular too. Expect a brisk pace on weekday mornings, but you may be backed up at peak times.
Pinehills Golf Club
Pinehills knows how to give the daily fee player a private club experience. With extensive practice facilities, a top-notch golf academy, a 50-room boutique inn, and two championship golf courses, you might not want to leave. Located on the south shore, in Plymouth, the drive gives you a good excuse to spend the night. Always in tip-top condition, there’s hardly a blade of grass out of place and almost no waiting on the tee. The Nicklaus course (designed by Jack’s namesake and oldest son) stretches to 7,243 yards and is the more forgiving than the Jones layout (but why not try both since you’re there?). Nicklaus is wide open off the tee, but you’ll need to hit good iron shots to the greens, and there’s a stretch of sharp doglegs on the back nine that will test any golfers savvy. Get there with plenty of time before your tee time to take full advantage of the excellent practice facilities and make a note to grab a lobster roll at the turn.
The Oaks Course at International Golf Club
Ranked as one of the top public courses in Massachusetts by Golf Digest, this Tom Fazio design is a lush course with amenities to match. The property features a 54-room boutique lodge and a gourmet restaurant, making it an ideal destination if you want to get away from it all and still stay close to the city—it’s about an hour by car. A par-72 with five sets of tees ranging from 5,243 to 6,944 yards, the densely wooded, pine-tree-lined course overlooks the Nashoba River Valley and offers gorgeous panoramic views of the area (there’s a vineyard practically next door). The sinuous waste bunkers and naturalized areas add to the visuals. The par-5 18th is a fun finishing hole that will test both your distance and accuracy, and make sure to take advantage of the excellent short-game practice area. (If you can get on the Pines, the private course at the International, you’ll really be able to boast that you played the longest course in the U.S., 8,325 yards from the Tiger Tees).