In this blog post we’re going to explore some of the finest golf courses on Martha’s Vineyard.
This spectacular and immensely popular island is just a short ferry ride south off Cape Cod, in Massachusetts. Every year, tens of thousands of tourists flock here to experience the island’s finest attractions.
If you are traveling to Martha’s Vineyard, the easiest route is to take the ferry from Woods Hole. But I’m sure you’ve already done your research. Get on with telling us about the golf courses! I hear you.
The best Martha’s Vineyard Golf Courses
The Royal & Ancient Chappiquiddick Links
So we kick off our list of golf courses on Martha’s Vineyard, with one not even on Martha’s Vineyard! Yep, you heard right. Royal and Ancient Chappaquiddick Links is actually located on Chappaquiddick Island, off the east coast of Martha’s Vineyard.
Known affectionately amongst the locals as ‘Royal Chappy’, this is a club with a long and romantic past.
It was founded way back in 1887, by Frank Marshall, in a period when golf really hadn’t taken off in the country yet. Let alone ‘take off’, it barely even existed!
Inspired by a trip to the British Isles, Frank was desperate to start his own golf course, a sport he’d discovered during his travels.By 1905, there were an impressive 24 holes sprawled out across the plot.
Due to a number of reasons, including wars and the Great Depression, the golf course fell into disrepair. By the mid-twentieth century, there was very little left of those original holes.
Fast forward to today and Royal Chappy seems to have settled as a 9-hole links layout. It occupies an idyllic spot overlooking Edgartown on the mainland and is as off the beaten track as you’ll get anywhere.
Clearly the course is rustic, but this is part of its appeal. It’s a ball to play and no one here takes themselves too seriously. The cozy little clubhouse has a drinks fridge although don’t expect table-service 😉
Vineyard Golf Club
We couldn’t have gone from more of an extreme to another. Yet here we are, at the super private and very nascent Vineyard Golf Club.
This incredibly up-market and member-focused golf club is one of the newest on the island. It opened this side of the millennium in 2002, originally being designed by Donald Steele.
But today it is considered a Gil Hanse design, having been completely redesigned by Hanse and his associate Jim Wagner. This 2015 project has elevated the Vineyard Golf Club as one of ‘the’ golf courses to play on Martha’s Vineyard and wider Massachusetts.
And if you did manage to get a round here, you could be playing just behind former president Barack Obama. The Vineyard is his go-to course when vacationing on the island.
In typical Hanse style, the course has many classic design elements. There are no in-your-face man-made structures. Instead an elegant design which seamlessly blends with the natural contours of the topography.
There are many risk/reward holes where the right strategy is key to scoring well. Likewise, many greens were positioned on elevated ground to offer stunning panoramic views of the property.
The routing was built as a walking only course, so tee boxes are close to greens. There is a real sensation of being at peace and at one with nature here.
It couldn’t be more different to The Royal & Ancient Chappaquiddick Links. But also in some respects, there is a lot that does connect these two courses. The respect and love of the land. The rustic aesthetic which certainly for the latter, makes it look like it has been there far longer. But suffice to say, that is also where the similarities end.
Farm Neck Golf Club
Farm Neck Golf Club has already been recognised as one of the best public golf courses in Massachusetts. Fair to say then, it is also one of the finest golf courses on Martha’s Vineyard.
It occupies a prime spot overlooking the Atlantic and is a mere five minute drive from Oak Bluffs where the ferry comes in. It really couldn’t be more convenient to get to! But it also couldn’t be more spectacular.
The course was a design collaboration between Geoffrey Cornish, Bill Robinson and Patrick Mulligan. Opening for play in 1979, it has remained a firm favorite not only on the island, but also within the wider state.
The routing is incredibly varied with three distinct sections that it meanders through. These are the open meadows, salt marshes and majestic woodland. Whilst occasionally as you come towards the coast, you get to enjoy spectacular sea views.
Fortunately the aesthetic is also backed up by a really solid and strategic design. It is challenging with various risk/reward shots. And a constant threat are the prevailing winds. But boy is it worth it.
Mink Meadows Golf Club
To the north of the island in the West Chop area, is the superb year-round golf course Mink Meadows. This is a beautiful spot, a few hundred meters from the coast in a densely wooded landscape.
The course was designed by two of the legendary Golden Age golf course architects, Wayne Stiles and John Van Kleek. It won’t surprise you then that this is a club which has existed for some time, opening way back in 1936.
Considered a classic seaside golf course, it sits within a site rampant with birds and other wildlife. For example, the club was the first to introduce osprey poles on the island to encourage nesting for this endangered species.
The layout is another nine hole experience, stretching 3,155 yards from the back tees. Yet many do play the full eighteen as there is a different tee set up. Subsequently the back nine measures slightly shorter at 3,084 yards.
Renowned as being a fair test of golf, pretty much all levels of golfer can come and enjoy themselves. The fairways are more often than not in fantastic shape, with some great green complexes.
Throw in some wonderful views over Vineyard Sound and a super friendly welcome, what more could you want.
Edgartown Golf Club
Last on our list of Martha’s Vineyard golf courses is Edgartown Golf Club.
Positioned overlooking the majestic Vineyard Sound, the club is located within the outskirts of Edgartown on the island’s eastern side. It was here that the club was founded in 1926 by club owner Cornelius Lee.
In a relatively unique, but not unheard of situation, Lee decided to design the routing himself, forgoing the need for a professional architect. Lee had done a lot of traveling with Scotland, one of the places he’d visited. It was there he was inspired by the links at St Andrews which he used as his guiding principle.
With the help and support of Bror Hogland, the first greenskeeper, they got to work on crafting a nine hole layout. The course is still a nine hole layout today, but aesthetically it has come on leaps and bounds.
Amongst the changes included completely rebuilding a number of tee boxes and greens. They also recently moved some grand cedar trees to various places on the course. This was both to improve the aesthetic and strategy.
Edgartown Golf Club is a fine course with the happiness of its membership paramount. And within their means, they’ll continue improving the course and the surrounding infrastructure bit by bit.