The par-4 17th hole at Red Tail Golf Club is a perennial favorite in the Boston area
It may have taken the Red Sox 86 years to 86 the curse and the hated Yankees, but Boston has long rivaled, and at times surpassed New York for great public golf. The emergence of world-class architect and hometown favorite son Brian Silva, has been the primary reason.
Despite winning Golf Digest's best new course award in 1985 for Cape Cod's Captain's Club, Silva had an epiphany that courses had become strategy-light and too reliant on the penal school of architecture. 'You wanna play where the trouble is all on the sides, go bowling,' he says with relish.
Since his moment of clarity, he has been a second coming of Seth Raynor and C.B. Macdonald, weaving varied strategic elements such as hazards turned perpendicular to the line of play, alternating shot requirements, saddle greens, punchbowls, and true redans (that feature greens running away from the tee box) onto gorgeous plots in historic colonial towns like Hingham, Devens and Ayer ' a mere two miles from Paul Revere's route.
Each Silva course is a professorial lesson in architecture. Red Tail Golf Club in Devens is Silva's masterpiece thus far, a strategic tour de force featuring perpendicular hazards and a vast array of interesting and challenging architectural features. The brilliant risk reward 17th ' a par-4 similar in challenge to the fabled 5th at Bethpage ' is annually named players' favorite hole in Boston. The course has two punchbowl greens.
Silva's Waverly Oaks, designed in 1998, offers a rare chance to see the progress of a designer in his career. The first Silva course to feature perpendicular hazards, it looks like fascinating prototype of Silva's work at Red Tail. Players will note the primordial versions of Silva's strip bunkering and hole shaping that became more refined at Red Tail.
Both courses are less than $55 in the afternoons in high season. Other solid options include the affordable Rees Jones design at Pinehills Golf Club in Plymouth ($60-$70 after 2 p.m.), classic and historic Farm Neck Golf Club on Martha's Vineyard, (a favorite of former President Bill Clinton), Silva's Shaker Hills Golf Club, a tight, parkland test three miles from its sister Red Tail and Widow's Walk, an affordable muni in Scituate.
Between the Patriots and Red Sox, Cape Cod beaches, great nightlife and rock concerts, seafood, seafood, seafood, and colonial history, Boston has plenty for the whole family.
Since launching his first golf writing website in 2004, Jay Flemma's comparative analysis of golf designs and knowledge of golf course architecture and golf travel have garnered wide industry respect. In researching his book on America's great public golf courses (and whether they're worth the money), Jay, an associate editor of Cybergolf, has played over 260 nationally ranked public golf courses in 39 different states. Jay has played about 1,649,000 yards of golf - or roughly 938 miles. His pieces on travel and architecture appear in Golf Observer, Cybergolf and other print magazines. When not researching golf courses for design, value and excitement, Jay is an entertainment, copyright, Internet and trademark lawyer and an Entertainment and Internet Law professor in Manhattan.