Ledges Golf Club is not your typical municipal golf course. Sure, its 18 holes sweep across 244 acres of Pioneer Valley land that belongs to taxpayers, but lumping it with other publicly owned courses wouldn't fully convey the thought that's been put into it. Founded in 2001, the course is a result of five years spent drawing up its hybrid layout and executing its private club-like atmosphere. In designing it, architect Howard Maurer sought to strike a balance between links-style holes and the woodland setting, as the course is surrounded by mountain ridges and protected wetlands that many species of wildlife call home. As partners in the Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary Program, course superintendents preserve these natural surroundings by eschewing harmful pesticides and fertilizers on the fairways and hairsprays on the rough as they keep the course in pristine condition.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 6,507 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 72.2 from the back tees * Course slope of 133 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole * View the scorecard.
Donald Ross, America's first great golf course architect and designer of legendary loops such as Pinehurst No. 2 and Seminole Golf Club, had a way with the land. He seemed to be able to bend the earth to his will. Where lesser architects might have just laid down a bunch of green yoga mats, Ross punctuated the landscape with subtle, artful flourishes – such as crowned “turtle back” greens and deep bunkers – that were perfectly integrated into the landscape. These nuanced touches can be witnessed at Orchards Golf Club, a 1922 Ross creation. The famed designer splayed the 18-hole course across 160 acres of terrain marked by dense forest groves and an enduring mystique, attributes that earned the course hosting duties for the 2002 NCAA Women's Championship and 2004 USGA Women's Open Championship.
Course at a Glance:
The nine-hole course at Northampton Country Club was carved into the countryside in 1898. Four sets of tees make each time-honored hole manageable, whether a player can hit the long ball or prefers to throw the ball toward the green. A river comes into play on two holes, and the wide fairways cut through regions of dense forest that can ensnare errant balls.
After a round, players can head to the recently renovated clubhouse to dine at the 19th Hole bar and grill and regale fellow visitors with tall tales of booming drives and the 3-foot putt that got away.
Course at a Glance: * Nine-hole, par 35 course * Total length of 3,041 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 69 from the back tees * Course slope of 119 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole
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.
The Ranch Golf Club's skilled architect, Damian Pascuzzo, challenges club swingers with 340 acres of rolling bentgrass, woodlands, and water hazards that earned the course 2010 honors as a GolfWorld Top 50 Public Course. Forty acres of undulating fairways carpet formidable holes starting with the first pin, which tempts drives down a narrow fairway amid the unintelligible secrets of whispering willows. Prior to tee time, players can brush up their short game skills on two fast-rolling practice greens, or swing wildly at six target greens that pepper a 300-yard driving range. Decked out carts, featuring club washers and drive distance measurements, direct players along pathways with a ProLink GPS system that offers approach advice and eliminates the need to ask a skittish deer to caddy the next hole.