In our public golf series, this time we’re exploring the best public golf courses in Boston, Massachusetts.
The city of Boston is not only the capital of Massachusetts, but it is also the largest city within the state. Overlooking Massachusetts Bay on the Atlantic coastline, the city is the financial hub of New England. Not only is it appealing to businesses, Boston is also a popular holiday destination.
The city has its fair share of high end private golf courses. This includes the likes of The Country Club in the neighborhood of Brookline. Salem Country Club and Boston Golf Club are two others. In fact, surrounding the city, there is a litany of private clubs to choose from.
But for a city the size of Boston, it has surprisingly few publicly accessible golf courses. And sadly, a number of these aren’t quite ready to be listed here. But that said, there are some good choices out there, so let’s dive into them to find out which are worth playing.
The best public golf courses in Boston
|2||Butter Brook Golf Club|
|3||George Wright Golf Course|
|4||Braintree Municipal Golf Course|
|5||Newton Commonwealth Golf Course|
|6||Brookmeadow Country Club|
|7||Sandy Burr Country Club|
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1. Granite Links
We kick off our list of the best public golf courses in Boston with the fantastic semi-private Granite Links. The club is located to the south of Boston in the city of Quincy. This is one special place and offers arguably some of the best views back across to the great city.
The course was designed on top of a former quarry and landfill site, which in itself offered a unique topography. Add to that the millions of tons of excavated earth from a nearby road tunneling project, this is one unique layout.
The club called upon the talented and experienced John Sanford to head up the creation of 27 holes. The first 9-holes was called the Milton 9, with the second nine, which arrived a year later, the Granite 9.
Immediately after opening, the course was lauded by all the major golf publications. It was widely recognised as being one of the best new golf courses in the country.
But they didn’t rest on their laurels. Within just a couple of years of the Milton 9 opening, Granite Links was already hosting a high profile women’s tournament, the LPGA Legends Tour.
The final 9-holes arrived in 2006, and were called the Quincy 9. Alongside this creation, was the opening of a magnificent clubhouse.
The course plays tough, with the constant elevation changes a challenge even for the better golfers out there. Without even mentioning the cross-winds you encounter, there are blind shots and tricky dog-legs.
But one thing you can’t accuse Granite Links of, is not being fun. And add to that the spectacular views, this is unquestionably one of the finest public golf courses in Boston.
2. Butter Brook Golf Club
In the Boston suburb of Westford, is the fantastic Butter Brook Golf Club. It’s approximately a forty minute drive into central Boston.
Close to the towns of Littleton and Lowell, Butter Brook is a relatively newer kid on the block, having opened for play this side of the millennium in 2004.
The club is located in dense woodland hidden far away from urban life. Magnificent tall pines dominate the site and line many of the fairways.
The course was designed by Mark Mungeam who might not be the most well-known architect but has bags of experience.
Amongst numerous course renovations and various new-builds, Mungeam was responsible for the renovation of Olympia Fields Country Club in Chicago. This was just prior to the club hosting the 2003 U.S. Open.
The routing at Butter Brook is superb. It uses the natural rolling hills and site topography seamlessly. Adding to the overall character are serene ponds and the Butter Brook which creeps into the site.
From the back pins the layout reaches over 6,800 yards. And with four sets of tees on each hole, Butter Brook can be enjoyed by all levels of golfers.
3. George Wright Golf Course
The emblematic George Wright Golf Course is a rare thing. It is one of the few municipal golf courses designed by the great Donald Ross.
Ross was one of the most prominent golf course architects in the first half of the twentieth century, referred to as the Golden Age of golf course architecture.
And here he designed one of two municipal golf courses operated by the City of Boston, with the other being William J Devine.
The course is located to the south of the city, along the northern edge of the vast Stony Brook Park. This is the neighborhood of Hyde Park which if driving from the city center, you’re looking at about a half hour’s drive.
What is interesting is that George Wright was initially earmarked as a private club. Donald Ross was commissioned to take on the project but following the market crash of 1929, that idea was abandoned.
It wasn’t until 1938 that the course finally opened, under the supervision of Walter Irving Johnson. Johnson had for many years been an associate of Donald Ross, so was best placed to oversee the final phase.
This is a classic example of Golden Age architecture and a prized possession of the city. The greens are outstanding and hark back to many of Ross’ great designs. No wonder Golfweek rated it as the fourteenth Best Municipal Golf Course in the U.S. in 2009.
4. Braintree Municipal Golf Course
Rarely should we throw out the term ‘hidden gem’ and for good reason. It can be often overused and you’ll quickly lose credibility if you throw it out there willy-nilly. Especially if the course you called a hidden gem is a complete disappointment.
But occasionally I’ll use it. And here at Braintree Municipal, I think I can get away with it. Why you might ask?
Well, the main reason is because it doesn’t share the same notoriety as the likes of George Wright or Granite Links. Both of those have been reviewed and played by numerous golf publications and ranked on various ‘best golf courses’ lists.
Braintree Municipal hasn’t yet this is a fine layout, immensely popular with the locals and just a half hour’s drive from downtown Boston.
It started as a nine-hole layout designed by Wayne Stiles, opening for play in 1932. This is the same Wayne Stiles from the partnership Stiles and Van Kleek who were responsible for many great golf courses in the Golden Age.
One of these is Taconic Golf Club, named best public golf course in Massachusetts in this article – What are the best public golf courses in Massachusetts?
In the mid-50s it was acquired by the town of Braintree, primarily to stop additional residential growth. Despite that, it still lost a few holes to a nearby construction of a factory, which required a routing modification.
A couple of decades later in 1971, it expanded to 18 holes. This project was overseen by the experienced Samuel Mitchell who was involved in around 170 course designs throughout his long career.
The layout has a real variety of holes with elegant and ancient trees lining many fairways. A number of holes have water in play and creeks to traverse. And for a muni, the greens are more often than not in great shape.
Great value, great course, not in the slightest bit pretentious and friendly staff.
5. Newton Commonwealth Golf Course
In the neighborhood of Chestnut Hill in Newton, twenty minutes drive from Boston, is Newton Commonwealth Golf Course. As the locals more commonly refer to it, Newton Comm.
This is one of the oldest golf courses in the nation, having first opened in 1897. At the time it was just nine holes and was called the Commonwealth Club.
It wasn’t until 1920 that the club benefitted from the experience and know-how of the great Donald Ross. It was also around this time the course extended to 18-holes.
Newton Commonwealth is one heck of a design. The word quirky probably doesn’t do it justice. Yet this is also one of its unique appeals, in so much as there are very few courses that play like this. They certainly don’t make them like this anymore, that’s for sure.
If you’re coming here expecting wide sprawling fairways with large pristine white-sand bunkers and carpet-like undulating greens, you’ve come to the wrong place! Instead, you’ll be playing a layout that sits on the side of a hill and nearly every shot is hitting uphill or downhill. Inevitably, there are many shots where your feet aren’t level.
Greens will oftentimes be way up, without a clear view of the area surrounding the green, let alone the green itself. The eleventh is a perfect example of this. Granted a short par-4, but all uphill.
There are tight fairways, numerous blind shots and dog-legs. You’ll need to have every shot in the bag ready and primed before visiting Newton Comm. But boy is this fun.
6. Brookmeadow Country Club
In Canton between Norwood and Stoughton, under an hour’s drive out of the big city, is Brookmeadow Country Club.
Whenever I’m creating these lists, I tend to set the limit to an hour’s drive. So Brookmeadow Country Club comes just nicely under that limit.
The club was the brainchild of one man, Frank Simoni. Simoni was a prominent and hugely successful real estate developer who made a name for himself in the Greater Boston area.
Although Simoni excelled in business, his real love was golf. So much so, he decided to build his own golf course.
In 1967 Simoni purchased 200 acres of land deemed unsuitable for housing, building out an initial nine holes. He even did most of the design work himself. Very soon, Brookmeadow was one of the most popular golf facilities south of the city. Soon after, it was enlarged to eighteen holes.
Simoni died in 1997 but since then, the club has stayed within the family. The objective continues to be the premier public golf facility in the area. Whilst the emphasis is on outstanding customer service giving a private club sensation.
As for the course, it is a relatively straight forward design. And that is not meant in a derogatory way. What you see is what you get from the tee whilst there aren’t too many hazards to get lost in.
This ensures Brookmeadow Country Club is approachable to all levels of golfer. From the back tees it stretches to 6,637 yards so definitely a walkable course.
And if you have time post round, spend some time in the fantastic clubhouse called The Gatherings.
7. Sandy Burr Country Club
Last on our list of best public golf courses in Boston, is another family owned country club, Sandy Burr.
Sandy Burr is located out towards Wayland in a beautiful leafy landscape to the west of Boston. This dense forest is far from everywhere, where one can be at peace with nature.
The course has serious heritage and pedigree, having been founded back in 1921. And to design the course, none other than the great Donald Ross.
Ross’ first nine holes opened for play in June of 1923. Whilst the second nine opened in the spring of the following year.
Immediately after opening, the club was hosting various high profile events. The New England Professional Golfers’ Association championship was held in July 1924. And in the ensuing years, it hosted various exhibition matches featuring none other than the golf legend Walter Hagen.
The layout is challenging yet fun with from the back tees the yardage measuring 6,427. A number of elevation changes come into play whilst the key to scoring well is clean ball striking along the narrow fairways. There are a couple of lakes onsite, but generally the course is relatively dry.
Really good value and friendly staff.
What is the best public golf course in Boston, Massachusetts?
The best public golf course in Boston, Massachusetts, is Granite Links. Located to the south of the city in Quincy, the club has fantastic views back across Greater Boston. It was designed by John Sanford and has 27 holes, the Milton, Granite and Quincy 9s.