Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play 2020: Massachusetts

Golf came early to Massachusetts, and the Bay State was home to one of the game’s most heroic stories after Francis Ouimet won the 1913 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline.

Just the name alone indicates The Country Club’s status as the first of its kind in the U.S. Pretty much anywhere else, Country Club would be preceded or followed by at least one proper noun. For the club founded in 1882 – golf was added in 1893 – and that was one of the five clubs to found the U.S. Golf Association in 1894, simply the Country Club will do.

Even 127 years after the course’s birth, The Country Club’s composite Championship Course is still the top-ranked course in Massachusetts – not to mention being No. 25 among all Classic courses in the U.S. – as judged by the Golfweek’s Best national panel of raters. Golfweek ranks courses by compiling the average ratings – on a points basis of 1 to 10 – of its more than 750 raters to create several industry-leading lists of courses, including best classic courses built before 1960, best modern courses, Best Courses You Can Play for public access and best private courses in each state.

And with an average rating of 7.90 for 2020, The Country Club’s composite course ­– including parts of three nines designed by Willie Campbell, Howard C. Toomey and William S. Flynn; renovated by Rees Jones and then Gil Hanse – ranks as the No. 1 Golfweek’s Best Private course in Massachusetts. And that’s in a state full of grand old tracks such as Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton, Essex in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Eastward Ho! in Chatham and Kittansett Club in Marion, just to name a few.

In all, Massachusetts has 17 courses listed on the top-200 list of Golfweek’s Best Classic courses. In a comparison of states with the most representation on that list, Massachusetts is No. 4, behind only New York (32), Pennsylvania (19) and California (18).

Massachusetts also has three courses ranked among the top 200 Golfweek’s Best Modern courses built in 1960 or after: Old Sandwich in Plymouth, Boston Golf Club in Hingham and Nantucket Golf Club in Siasconset.

Without a doubt, all these clubs make Massachusetts a golf-rich state, the home to roughly 400 courses in all. But there’s a hitch for most players: All the great courses listed above are private. What about public-access courses in the state?

Again based on the Golfweek’s Best rankings, Massachusetts has a diverse offering of great public tracks ranging from ultra-elite and nearly private, all the way to municipal.

For example, No. 1 in the state’s ranking of Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play is Cape Cod National in Brewster. Essentially a private club, the course is open to guests of the Forbes Five Star Wequassett Resort and Golf Club. While not the same as offering daily-fee access through online bookings, that does make the club available to anyone who stays at the resort, hence its eligibility for inclusion on the Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play list.

At the opposite end of the public-access spectrum is George Wright Golf Course in Boston, a 1932 gem designed by Donald Ross and Walter Irving Johnson. The resident 18-hole green fee is $41 Monday-Thursday – only $13 for juniors during the week, $15 on weekends – making it one of the most-affordable of all Golfweek’s Best ranked courses.

It all proves the point that in Massachusetts, there is something for everyone.

Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play 2020 in Massachusetts

1. Cape Cod National

Brewster (m)

2. Miacomet

Nantucket (m)

3. The Ranch

Southwick (m)

4. Crumpin-Fox

Bernardston (m)

5. George Wright Municipal

Boston (c)

6. Pinehills (Nicklaus)

Plymouth (m)

7. Pinehills (Jones)

Plymouth (m)

8. Red Tail

Devens (m)

9. *Blackstone National

Sutton (m)

10. *The International (Oaks)

Bolton (m)

* New or returning to the list; c: Classic, built before 1960. m: Modern, built in 1960 or after

Golfweek’s Best Private Courses 2020 in Massachusetts

1. The Country Club (Composite)

Brookline (No. 25 c)

2. Myopia Hunt Club

Hamilton (No. 31 c)

3. Old Sandwich

Plymouth (No. 19 m)

4. Boston GC

Hingham (No. 26 m)

5. Essex

Manchester-by-the-Sea (No. 41 c)

6. Eastward Ho!

Chatham (No. 42 c)

7. Kittansett Club

Marion (No. 46 c)

8. Salem CC

Peabody (No. 74 c)

9. Whitinsville GC

Whitinsville (No. 75 c)

10. Sankaty Head

Siasconset (No. 83 c)

* New or returning to the list; c: Classic, built before 1960. m: Modern, built in 1960 or after

Golfweek’s Best 2020

How we rate them

The members of our course-ratings panel continually evaluate courses and rate them based on our 10 criteria. They also file a single, overall rating on each course. Those overall ratings on each course are averaged together to produce a final rating for each course. Then each course is ranked against other courses in its state, or nationally, to produce the final rankings.

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