At Agawam Municipal Golf Course, an American flag billows high above the pristine white clubhouse's back porch, where players can quaff postround drinks as they watch their peers hole out and head in for the day. The 18-hole course drapes over rolling hills marked by dense forest along each fairway, forcing players to keep their drives straight or risk having their golf balls snatched by hungry Sasquatches.
Course at a Glance:
Edward and Kristine Mele were driving their son to baseball practice one day when a downpour caused the team to relocate to indoor batting cages. This serendipitous change led the Mele family past Sand Trap Mini Golf, which was derelict and for sale. Within a week, the Meles owned the course. Gathering up their sons, daughters, siblings, and friends, the couple renovated the grounds, removing the debris and haunted windmills that littered the place. Today, Sand Trap's gleaming 18-hole course draws families and friends outdoors to revel in spirited competition. As they progress through the course, Coca-Cola beverages and Blue Bunny ice cream help visitors keep cool and stop them from burrowing into a bunker hidden beneath the 18th hole.
Led by Brian American, the black-, brown-, purple-, and blue-belted instructors of Team Link Martial Arts lead students of all ages through all the techniques of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and mixed martial arts. Classes focus on the technical aspects of grappling and holds before letting students test out the moves they just learned while sparring. The instructors also offer grappling lessons to children, helping them learn discipline and get fit under the tutelage of positive role models. Women-specific training includes self-defense classes that tailor Brazilian Jiu Jitsu moves to real-world situations.
Licensed acupuncturist and herbalist Stan Baker draws from extensive experience in Eastern healing methods to adeptly perform numerous Eastern-medicine modalities. Baker's acupuncture and bodywork sessions help to stimulate the body's vital energy channels, working to alleviate such medical ailments as migraines and musculoskeletal pain. A Sun Do mountain yoga instructor with a black belt in aikido, Baker bolsters his understanding of the East by attending weekly chen-tai-chi classes and boycotting three out of four cardinal directions.
Rolling hills, towering pine trees, and burbling streams convene on Shaker Farms Country Club's 18-hole course as it gently rises and falls across 6,285 yards of bucolic terrain. Golfers must be mindful of a tranquil creek that runs in a wishbone pattern throughout the course, as its rippling waters—which come into play on eight holes—are often camouflaged by grassy banks and waterfowl that snack on errant golf balls. The distinct farmland layout conjures a sense of rustic antiquity, a characteristic furthered by the presence of a dilapidated farmhouse on the par 4 second hole. Clubbers hoping to gain control over runaway swings can warm up at the driving range or tap their spikes together three times to summon seasoned ace Keith Ornelas, who roams the club's verdant hillsides on a never-ending quest to vanquish mulligans once and for all. Alongside its verdant golf course, Shaker Farms boasts tennis courts and a versatile array of dining options.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par-72 course
Length of 6,285 yards from the farthest tees
Course rating of 69.4 from the farthest tees
Slope rating of 119 from the farthest tees
Four tee options
Link to scorecard
Since it first appeared more than a century ago, The Blandford Club has billed itself as a social beehive for its golf- and tennis-loving members in the Connecticut River Valley. The nine-hole golf course is a model of low-stress golf. Not only are the fairways wide and the greens friendly, but players don't need to schedule a tee time before showing up for a round, even if they aren't impersonating the president. Further, the fifth hole ends back at the clubhouse, so golfers are free to cut their rounds short if they're running low on daylight or only have a couple hours to spare. The user-friendliness extends to the tennis courts as well, where the Har-Tru court surface produces a reliable bounce while taking it easy on the knees.