As we continue exploring publicly accessible courses around the country, this time we’re looking at the best public golf courses on Cape Cod.
This hugely popular location is one of the most visited holiday destinations in the North East. And with some 560 miles of coastline, you can understand why.
The best time to visit Cape Cod is really mid Spring to mid Autumn, with the best weather really May, June, September and October.
Across the peninsula there are some outstanding golf courses, with Eastward Ho! Considered one of the best golf courses in the world. Fortunately, for every top class private course on the peninsula, there is an equally good public course.
So without any further delay, let’s jump into the best public golf courses in Cape Cod.
The best public golf courses on Cape Cod
|1||The Cape Club|
|2||Cranberry Valley Golf Course|
|3||The Brookside Club|
|4||Olde Barnstable Fairgrounds Golf Course|
|5||Dennis The Pines|
|6||Bayberry Hills Golf Course|
|7||Bass River Golf Course|
|9||Dennis The Highlands|
|10||Falmouth Country Club|
|Value for money||Cranberry Valley Golf Course|
|Groups||The Cape Club|
|Clubhouse||Olde Barnstable Fairgrounds Golf Course|
|Views||Bass River Golf Course|
1. The Cape Club
Located to the north of Falmouth, considered the gateway to Cape Cod, is the sensational The Cape Club by Troon. This is a club that has been completely revitalized with a serious injection of cash by the new owners.
Previously called Ballymeade Country Club, The Cape Club occupies a glorious piece of land, nestled next to the private Sacconnesset Golf Club. Dense forests and very little else make this one special experience away from the noise of modern life.
Ballymeade Country Club was a popular venue, a good course, but very middle of the road. This has now completely changed ever since Troon took ownership of the course in 2016.
First things first, the course renovation. The routing largely stayed the same, but it is unrecognizable outside of that. Tee boxes were rebuilt and green complexes reshaped and restructured. Fairways were widened and bunkers recrafted and filled with pristine Augusta white sand.
These changes have had a miraculous effect turning around a once tired course into without doubt the best public golf course on Cape Cod. The renovation was overseen by Troon’s development department, under the stewardship of Ron Despain, their Vice President of Golf Course Development.
But it didn’t stop there. The clubhouse was also updated, with the addition of a new restaurant called the Cape Grille Steak & Seafood.
So surely with all these changes, it will now price itself as a premium club? Well actually no. During the high season, yes, the tee time rates are just over the $100 mark. But if you’re flexible and can play a twilight round, it will cost around $85, or $70 after 4PM. Not bad.
This is a special course which more than merits its position at the top of this list.
2. Cranberry Valley Golf Course
Now here is another outstanding public golf course with a private golf club feel. Cranberry Valley Golf Course is a class act.
Located to the north of Harwich, just ten minutes drive from the coast, Cranberry Valley is the complete deal. So much so, it regularly gets recognised as one of the best public golf courses in Massachusetts, let alone Cape Cod.
It has earned rave reviews from Golf Digest, the Zagat Golf Guide and Golf Advisor. And now yourgolfcourses.com 😉
It was designed by the highly rated duo of Geoffrey Cornish and William Robinson and opened for play in 1974. The two of them were involved in over 200 new course builds and renovations throughout their career. They are also responsible for more courses in New England than any other architect.
Undoubtedly, Cranberry Valley Golf Course will be up there as one of the better ones.
The layout is pristine and shines in the creativity of the design. The topography isn’t overly hilly, yet for a flat course there is real strategy in every hole. Fairways are tree-lined and require accuracy off the tee.
There are three dog legs with one double dog leg, not something you encounter regularly. The only time a slice may work in your favor! And there is very little water in play but plenty of deep hazards to avoid.
When playing at Cranberry Valley, make sure you get there in plenty of time to enjoy the practice facilities. Designed by Mark Mungeam, they will rival any other practice facilities on Cape Cod.
3. The Brookside Club
The Brookside Club is the closest golf course to the mainland, being just a couple of miles from Bourne Bridge. This makes it one of the most convenient and popular courses on Cape Cod.
But the word convenient certainly doesn’t give Brookside the credit it deserves. This is a mighty fine golf course, enjoyable, challenging and well worth the visit.
It was built in 1986, a creation by the acclaimed Dr Michael Hurdzan. Hurdzan has had an incredibly successful career, mostly with his associate Dana Fry. But The Brookside Club was a Hurdzan design and boy did he deliver.
As a first time visitor playing here, you might be forgiven for thinking this is a little quirky. There are momentous elevations, narrow fairways, random run-offs and tricky greens. But on repeated plays, the quirks begin to reveal themselves adding character and intrigue.
More recently in 1996, the course was refined by the equally acclaimed John Sanford. And this work has clearly been well received as Brookside Club is continually recognised as one of the best public courses in the state.
There is a private feel to the club, with the clubhouse well worth relaxing in. You’ll enjoy some magnificent views, a chilled outdoor bar area and a fine restaurant, The Bog Tavern, which serves locally sourced fresh food.
All in all a great experience.
4. The Olde Barnstable Fairgrounds Golf Course
On the main road through Cape Cod, heading towards Hyannis and Barnstable, you’ll soon pass The Olde Barnstable Fairgrounds Golf Course.
It’s a name which doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. Fortunately, amongst the locals, it is more commonly known as the Olde Barney. Let’s stick to that!
You might be wondering what’s with the name? Well the site was previously the location of the Barnstable County Fair, so this was incorporated into the name to not forget the past.
The Olde Barney is one of the more popular courses on Cape Cod, having been open for play since 1992. It was designed by the talented Mark Mungeam, one of a number in the area he’s responsible for.
One thing you can’t accuse the Olde Barney of, is not being fun to play. There are numerous big elevation changes and sublime mounding. From the tee the landing areas are fairly generous whilst the greens are superb. Generally consistent in quality and featuring a number of subtle breaks to keep you on your toes.
Personally, I also think this is great value. With twilight rates starting around the $35 mark and weekend rates in high season well under $100, where can you go wrong. On another day I’d rank the Olde Barney higher, but you get the point. This is quality golf.
5. Dennis The Pines & The Highlands
On the northern side of Cape Cod, is the town of Dennis in Barnstable County. The two closest golf courses are part of the same entity, Dennis Golf.
You have the Pines course which opened in 1965, and the Highlands course opening some twenty years or so later in 1984.
Both courses are magnificent. Even choosing which should be placed higher in this list is so subjectively unfair. I might as well toss a coin! But I’ve opted for The Pines course as I believe this will be of more interest to lower handicap golfers.
The Pines was designed by Henry C. Mitchell. Whilst more recently in 2001, the course was given a much needed renovation by Brian Ault and Tom Clark. In fact, as part of the same project the duo also spent time renovating and updating the Highlands course too.
Where the Highlands is forgiving, featuring wide fairways and topping out at 6,500 yards, the Pines is the opposite. From the back tees the course measures close to 7,000 yards and particularly on the back nine, is very narrow.
Tree-lined fairways feature throughout, but on the back nine is where things step up a notch in terms of difficulty. Likewise, there are ample wetlands and ponds which come into play to increase the difficulty.
The Highlands course is definitely more approachable as already mentioned. The sister course was designed by Dr Michael Hurdzan and Jack Kidwell and is arguably more fun to play. Where the driver really should stay in the bag on The Pines, you can definitely let it rip on The Highlands.
Both courses feature really interesting green complexes, many featuring multiple tiers and undulations. And the conditioning is generally outstanding.
This is a fine golf club with two devine golf courses. Why don’t you also toss a coin to decide which to play! You won’t be let down.
6. Bayberry Hills Golf Course
Another course which couldn’t be more convenient and easier to get to is Bayberry Hills Golf Course. Located right next to the main highway and close to most of the major towns, Yarmouth, Harwich, Dennis etc, this is a popular choice.
Let’s be honest, the recipe here is not too dissimilar to many other great public golf courses on Cape Cod. Glorious plot of land with dense pine woodlands. Relatively flat with not too much water in play.
But that is not to put Bayberry Hills down. Quite the opposite. This is a fine destination where you’ll come across a challenging championship golf course. It is also one of the longest public courses on the Cape measuring 7,200 yards from the back tees.
A recent tree-removal project has ensured Bayberry Hills is significantly more playable than in previous times. Where you do spread your tee shots, you’ll generally find them on the pine needle beds.
Large open green complexes should be straight-forward to attack. But beware the many subtle movements and deep bunkers. Whilst the routing, which was devised by Geoffrey Cornish and Brian Silva, is really well thought out. Challenging yet fair. But you’ll need to ensure you’re able to pull every shot out of the bag.
Great option and one many would argue should be higher in this list.
7. Bass River Golf Course
Between Hyannis and Harwich, tucked up next to the Bass River as it meanders seawards, is the traditional layout of Bass River.
Bass River Golf Course is one of the oldest golf courses on the Cape, having been established in 1900. Yet the routing we enjoy today was the work of the great Donald Ross some fourteen years later..
Ross is responsible for countless great course designs in the country. He was also one of the preeminent Golden Age course architects. It’s fair to say there aren’t too many design features made famous in that time visible at Bass River. But this is unquestionably a quintessential Ross design.
It is not the longest from the back markers measuring 6,100 yards. But don’t be fooled into thinking it will be easy. There are narrow tree-lined fairways and typical Ross greens, small and narrow whilst well-protected by bunkers.
The finishing hole is epic. A short par-3 with water all down the left-hand side and your tee shot needing to carry marshes. It’s a nice way to finish off the round especially with the unabridged views across the river.
So many courses on the Cape are hidden away amongst the vast pine woodlands. So it is a welcome change to have views out towards the river, even if you might land a ball in there on the last hole.
8. Hyannis Golf
Officially sitting at the center of Cape Cod, Hyannis Golf Course is a great option if you’re staying in Hyannis. It’s also conveniently located next to the Cape Cod Gateway Airport and the main highway cutting through the peninsula.
The course opened in 1975 and was designed by Geoffrey Cornish and William Robinson.
Cutting through the dense Lake Heights woodland, this is certainly not a course to be taken lightly. Hyannis Golf Course is challenging.
The tree-lined fairways are uncomfortably narrow so your ball striking has to be on point. Thick undergrowth will ensure finding balls is no easy feat. Even if you do find your ball, getting out is even harder.
To add to the above, there are vast and constant elevation changes. Green complexes are more often than not above you, so you’ll often find yourself looking up at some distant pin.
These challenging conditions are no doubt why over the years it has been chosen to host various tournaments. In 2015 it hosted the 2015 Cape Cod PGA Championship and has also been home to the Cape Cod Open.
9. Falmouth Country Club
North east of Falmouth, towards the Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge, is the super playable and enjoyable Falmouth Country Club.
There are 27 holes of golf here, the 18 hole championship layout called the Osprey. Whilst the 9 hole course is called the Talon.
What is immediately obvious is how nature and specifically protecting the wildlife is core to what Falmouth Country Club stands for. For starters, the club is certified as Cooperative Sanctuary by Audubon International.
Hardly surprising considering how committed the club is to protecting the local environment. Hidden amongst the lakes, ponds, streams and pines are osprey nests and various birdhouses.
As for the course, it is without doubt one of the most playable public golf courses in Cape Cod. The terrain is flat so you can quite easily walk the course.
Some of the tree-lined fairways are narrow, but not overly penal. Likewise, the various natural looking bunkers won’t completely ruin your score if you hit them.
Generally, a pretty good option, good value for money and a fun day out.
What is the best public golf course on Cape Cod, MA?
The best public golf course on Cape Cod is The Cape Club north of Falmouth. Previously called Ballymeade Country Club, it was acquired by Troon in 2016. Ever since then, it has completely reinvented itself with significant investment improving the golf course, practice areas and clubhouse.