Massachusetts state is officially called the “Commonwealth of Massachusetts”, and is the most populated in the New England region which also includes Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine.
Despite its small land area it hosts a population of nearly seven million. Officially nicknamed The Bay State (although it is unofficially known, amongst other names, as The Baked Bean State!), its capital and largest city is Boston.
It was first colonized by English pilgrims in 1620 and was given the name Massachusetts Bay ten years later, taking its name after the indigenous Massachusett people.
It was the scene of the notorious Salem witch trials in 1692 which resulted in multiple hearings and executions following allegations of witchcraft.
The state saw a populist revolt in 1786 which influenced the US Constitutional Convention, and in the eighteenth century a local preacher instigated the Protestant First Great Awakening which spread throughout Britain and its colonies.
Boston later became known as the “Cradle of Liberty”, from which later emerged the American Revolution. Notably, it had been the Boston Tea Party in 1773 which ignited the tensions leading up eventually to America’s successful war of independence.
The oldest institution of higher education of the United States of America, Harvard University, is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It has produced no fewer than eight US Presidents.
As well as being a seat of education the Bay State has been a driving force for entrepreneurialism, having been largely transformed during the Industrial Revolution from an agriculture and fishing based economy to one of manufacturing.
A History of Golf in Massachusetts
The state boasts a fine sporting portfolio, playing host to leading NBA basketball team the Boston Celtics, leading MLB baseball side the Boston Red Sox, NHL ice hockey club Boston Bruins, six-time NFL Super Bowl winners New England Patriots and Major League Soccer team the New England Revolution.
Early basketball and volleyball were created in Massachusetts and the American Hockey League, the development league of the NHL, has its headquarters in Springfield.
Other sports at which the state has enjoyed some success include rowing and lacrosse.
Famously the legendary heavyweight boxer Rocky Marciano, undefeated and believed by some to have been the greatest of all time, hailed from Brockton.
The Greater Boston region, interestingly, is the only metropolitan area in US pro sports where all the facilities are privately owned and operated.
But golf, too, is a notable feature of sporting life in Massachusetts. As well as having hosted nine US Opens, four US Women’s Opens, two Ryder Cups and one US Senior Open, the state also provides a regular tour stop for the PGA Tour Deutsche Bank Championship.
Of course, having been founded by the Mayflower pilgrims it is perhaps not surprising to note that the sport of golf is by no means new to the inhabitants of Massachusetts.
The Country Club at Brookline was the first of its kind anywhere in the United States, having been founded way back in 1860, although play there didn’t actually commence until a whole thirty-three years thereafter.
It wasn’t much later, by 1908, that the Myopia Hunt Club had hosted four US Opens.
Today there are more than 400 golf courses to be found in the Bay State, including several which feature regularly in the US Top 100 lists.
They range from some traditional, classic-style establishments, largely centered around Boston, to modern golf courses with many of the latest design features.
12 Best Massachusetts Golf Courses
Some hold that for golfers Massachusetts offers the best sport in the New England region. For many, the top twelve among them would be the following:
The Country Club (Clyde and Squirrel), Brookline
The roll call of tournaments hosted at this venue alone places it comfortably at the top of the list of the best golf courses in Massachusetts.
Ryder Cup, Walker Cup, US Open (most recently in 2022), US Amateur, US Women’s Amateur, US Junior Amateur, US Girls’ Junior.
The Country Club has come a long way since its formation as a simple six-hole golf course all those many years ago.
Myopia Hunt Club, Hamilton
Opened back in 1882, the Myopia Hunt Club was so named for the simple reason that many of its early members wore spectacles.
The course has played host to four US Opens, albeit the most recent of them being in 1908, but the proud history of the club should not be allowed to obscure the more recent restoration work in which some trees were removed and fairways were expanded to reconnect to the famous pit bunkers.
Old Sandwich Golf Club, Plymouth
Located in the pine hills of eastern Massachusetts, to the south of Plymouth and near to Cape Cod Bay, the sandy soil presents the perfect venue for links-style golf.
The course was designed by Ben Crawshaw and Bill Coore and incorporates numerous classic concepts within what is a broadly modern course layout. The bunkers were shaped by Jeff Bradley.
Eastward Ho!, Chatham
This was created in 1921 at the former Chatham Country Club by English course architect Herbert Fowler, perhaps better known for his earliest design at Walton Heath near London.
Uncomplicated greens, simple tee boxes and some minimalist bunkering set out on a glorious rolling landscape define this popular golf course, which boasts stunning views overlooking Little Pleasant Bay.
Pinehills Golf Club, Plymouth
Thirty miles to the south-east of Boston and amid an affluent residential community, Massachusetts public golf courses don’t come better than Pinehills.
Set among over 300 acres of rolling hills, its two 18-hole championship courses were designed by Rees Jones and Jack Nicklaus II.
It has a noted academy and offers fine dining, events and receptions, golf outings and a popular clubhouse.
Boston Golf Club, Hingham
A golf club for private members designed by Gil Hanse and opened in 2005, it has an interesting design feature in that it is made up of two sets of nine either side of a road passing through a quarry, with severe rock ledges, sharply altering elevations and some dense forest.
It is also a physically demanding course which may not always suit players for whom walking between holes is a challenge.
The Kittansett Club, Marion
Extending into Buzzards Bay, this opened for play back in 1922, having been designed and built by Fred Hood and William Flynn.
Considered close in stature to Old Sandwich and The Country Club, Kittansett was the host for the 1953 Walker Cup when the USA beat Great Britain and Ireland.
It was restored by Gil Hanse in the late 1990s, and many of the old features which had eroded were replaced whilst the already spectacular scenery was further enhanced.
Taconic Golf Club, Williamstown
Located on the Williams College campus which sits in the Berkshire Mountains.
An innovative blend of stupendous scenery and a challenging set of holes makes this state border gem one of the best public golf courses anywhere in New England.
The 1927 design by Styles and Van Kleek was renovated in 2008 by Gil Hanse.
Salem Country Club, Peabody
The club itself formed in 1895 as the combined project of a group of wealthy golf enthusiasts from Salem.
The modern course was devised by Donald Ross in 1925 and is set across 350 acres. In 2001 it hosted the US Senior Open.
All the holes feature a witch logo in a fun reminder of the town’s more notorious history.
Nantucket Golf Club, Nantucket
Located on Nantucket Island, this is one of the more exclusive (and expensive) golf courses in Massachusetts.
A Rees Jones design, it opened in 1998.
For those who can’t afford to play there, proceedings can be observed from the neighboring Siasconset Golf Club, a historic private course with public access.
Newton Commonwealth Golf Course, Newton
A popular public course with a close-up view of the Boston skyline. A classic 1930s Ross design, the layout stretches over a ridge resulting in an abundance of odd lies along hilly fairways.
Essex County Club, Manchester by the Sea
When it opened in 1893 Essex County Club boasted the first 9-hole course anywhere in the region.
Ross expanded the layout to eighteen holes during his time as an Essex County Club pro golfer.
Other Massachusetts courses worthy of mention are the Winchester Country Club, the Hyannisport Club, the Oyster Harbors Club and the Longmeadow Country Club.
Spoilt for Choice in Massachusetts
A brief selection of the top golf courses in Massachusetts does not do justice to the range of options available to golfers of all levels of ability, and irrespective of status.
The private courses include some of the most exclusive clubs which can be extremely challenging for any but the very most wealthy.
But then there is quite a vast range of more than decent public courses at which most could play without having to break the bank.
The best courses around the state compete with some of the top locations in the United States of America.
Because of its varied geography this modestly-sized state offers mountain courses, ocean views, wonderful landscapes and hidden gems aplenty.
There are private courses and there are public courses, but also there are semi private and public access courses. There truly is something for everyone.
The influence of the British Isles, where the sport of golf originated, is easy to find at so many locations around the state.
But, like the pilgrims before, American golf took course design to a whole new level and the result can be seen in the hugely successful blend of British classicism and US innovation that is to be found in such abundance in this corner of the country.