Fall golf: 5 to play in New England
01 Oct 2013
by Benjamin Larsen of AmateurGolf.com

see also: The Ranch Golf Club, All Course Reviews

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Ask any so-called ‘leaf peeper’ and they’ll tell you the same. New England is the place to be in the fall.

The varying elevations, scenic areas and coastal access make it a fantastic destination any time of year but in the fall, New England is even more beautiful.

That thought holds especially true on the golf course. With no shortage of courses in elevated, foliage-happy, areas as well as warmer temperatures near the southern shore, there’s plenty for golfers in New England once the leaves start turning.

Here’s a rundown of the top five courses to make sure you ‘peep’ when in the area:

The Ranch, Southwick, Mass.: One of the area’s most award-winning courses, The Ranch was recently selected one of GolfWorld’s Top 50 Public Courses in the publication’s Readers’ Choice Awards. The course (more on it below) is challenging, yet playable.

The views, simply and utterly spectacular. Set in the foothills of the Berkshires, the elevation changes give you unbelievable views of the Pioneer Valley. No. 9, named ‘Glacier’, is the first of two long, downhill par-5s that give you major elevation changes, terrific views and a shot at eagle. No. 16, which is named ‘Ski Hill’ checks in at 618 yards from the tips and has a bit more room for error than 9, but will still make you proud to reach in two.

The course was designed by PGA Tour veteran Steve Pate and Damian Pascuzzo and runs through a terrain featuring meadows, wetlands and former farmland. No doubt, The Ranch is a must play if you find yourself anywhere near Western Massachusetts this fall.

Gillette Ridge Golf Club, Bloomfield, Conn.: If you play your cards right, you could play Gillette Ridge and The Ranch on the same day given their proximity. But I’ll leave the scheduling and tee time booking up to you. For now, just know the trip to the Nutmeg State will be well worth it. Host of the pre-qualifier for the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship, Gillette Ridge plays 7,191 from the back tees and a challenging 6,703 from the blues. With a full practice area and a scenic front-nine, you’ll be ready for action on Nos. 10, 11 and 12 which challenge you to hit it far, accurately and over water. With rates hovering under $60 for a round, you’ll get your money’s worth at Gillette Ridge.

Mount Washington Course, Bretton Woods, NH: If there ever was a course that typified New England, it’s the Mount Washington Course. Designed by famed architect Donald Ross, who put quite the stamp on the region, the par 72, 7,000-yard track opened in 1915 and sits in the shadows of the Granite State’s Presidential Mountain Range. A Golfweek’s Best course, it has hosted several New Hampshire Opens and played host to the New England Open in 2010.

Newport National, Middletown, RI: Considered the best course you can play in Rhode Island by Golfweek, Newport National measures 7,244 yards from the back tees and was designed by Arthur Hills and Drew Rogers. The links-style layout has hosted the Rhode Island Open, Adams Cup NCAA Intercollegiate and more events. Like Cape Cod course, Newport National is playable longer in the season than those in the western and northern portions of New England, so take advantage of Newport National and its recognized course conditions late in the season, too.

Cape Cod National, Brewster, Mass.: Perhaps underrated only because of the hype surrounding summer on Cape Cod is fall on Cape Cod. The majority of tourists are gone and beaches are empty. While there won’t be too much ‘fun in the sun’, you can still have your pick of the many terrific golf courses. The one I suggest is Cape Cod National in Brewster. The Geoffrey Cornish-Brian Silva combination is rated among the top courses available for public play in the state but you can only gain access by staying at nearby Wequassett Resort, so stay for the weekend!

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