The 20 best golf courses in Massachusetts (2022/2023)

Essex County in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass.

Larry Lambrecht

As part of GOLF’s course rating process for 2022-23, our fleet of 100-plus expert panelists identified the best golf courses in Massachusetts. Browse the links below to check out all of our course rankings, or scroll down to see the best courses in Massachusetts.

GOLF’s other course rankings: Top 100 Courses in the World | Top 100 Courses in the U.S. | Top 100 Courses You Can Play | Top 100 Value Courses in the U.S. | America’s Best Municipal Courses | The 100 Best Short Courses in the World

The 20 best golf courses in Massachusetts (2022/2023)

SYMBOL GUIDE
1 = Top 100 Course in the U.S.
P = Public/Resort Course
V = Top 100 Value Course in the U.S.
M = Top 30 Municipal Course in the U.S.

Ed. note: Some courses were omitted from our rankings because they did not receive enough votes.

1. The Country Club — Clyde/Squirrel (Brookline) [1, 2]

A Boston Brahmin society haunt for more than 125 years, this tree-lined design has played host to four U.S. Opens and the famous 1999 Ryder Cup. Its configuration of holes for the 2022 U.S. Open proved to be its best composite course yet out of its 27 holes but note: GOLF ranks the Clyde/Squirrel course that its members play on a regular basis. That’s the configuration of holes that was used for the 1913 Open when local lad Francis Ouimet stunned the big, bad Brits. Its old-school features include cross hazards and medium-size greens. The field at the 2022 U.S. Open was reminded that there is no substitute for hitting fairways and greens as thick rough remains a component of the course’s challenge just as it was in 1913.

The Country Club
The Country Club Patrick Koenig

2. Myopia Hunt (South Hamilton) [1, 2]

Some critics of rankings grumble that hosting a major unduly elevates a course. Is that true for Myopia Hunt, given that it has played host to four U.S. Opens? Probably not, given its last one was in 1908! What helped Myopia continue to rise in the list is appreciation for Gil Hanse’s restoration work whereby trees came down, and fairways were expanded/reconnected to Herbert Leeds’s fabulous pit bunkers. The handsome blue stem rough is best admired from a distance but there is no hiding from the severely titled greens at the 4th, 6th and 13th. None of those two-shotters is long but the slopes with which Leeds imbued them about 120 years ago define treachery at modern green speeds. With the wind more evident and the playing surfaces firm, the course’s thorny playing attributes are once again on full display. Fun fact: The winning score at its four U.S. Opens averaged nearly 324, or 81 strokes per round.

3. Old Sandwich (Plymouth) [1]

A modern classic with a starchy, old-school vibe, Old Sandwich occupies choice ground in the pine hills of eastern Massachusetts, where the land begins to elbow toward Cape Cod. Though not on the water, the course is often buffeted by Atlantic breezes, while its sand dunes and fescues add an extra layer of coastal atmospherics. Short par-4s are something of a point of pride for Coore and Crenshaw, and the Cape-style 5th is as fine an example of any they have built. But the 7th might be the more memorable two-shotter, with its green perched, island-like, amid a sea of sand. 

4. Eastward Ho! (Chatham) [1]

Herbert Fowler will always be associated with his beloved first design, Walton Heath outside of London. In that instance, he had to lend the open heath its golfing qualities as the site featured modest topography. What he was presented with here on Cape Cod was the exact opposite: a glacial moraine with tumbling landforms that converge in the most random manners. What a challenge to route but his figure-8 routing with the clubhouse in the middle seized on the opportunity to perfection. For original holes, few courses can compete.

Eastward Ho Chatham, Mass.
Eastward Ho! courtesy

5. Essex County (Manchester-by-the-Sea) [1]

Forget about its pedigree history that includes the Curtis sisters (yes, as in the Curtis Cup) and Donald Ross, Essex shines for having one of the best collections of holes in New England. After tackling a 600-plus yarder at the 3rd followed by a you-might-need-driver-here par-3 at the 4th, the golfer may be feeling bruised. But what ensues is possibly the best set of par-4s holes in the state, highlighted by 17 and 18, which play up and down a small mountain. As handsomely presented as any Ross course in the country.

6. Kittansett (Marion) [1]

Having hosted the Walker Cup in 1953, this club has long enjoyed an enviable reputation. Now, thanks to a slow and thoughtful 20-year restoration by Gil Hanse, the course might actually exceed its reputation. Central features in the form of either bunkers or grassed-over mounds make the course a tactical delight off the tee, while its medium size greens, from the famous island green on the beach at the 3rd to the built-up knob at 16, make for an elusive set to hit in regulation. Hard by Buzzards Bay, the course is generally buffeted by wind, which adds challenge to the task at hand

7. Boston GC (Hingham)

8. Sankaty Head (Nantucket)

9. Salem (Peabody)

10. Whitinsville (Whitinsville) [9 holes]

11. Longmeadow Longmeadow)

12. Vineyard (Edgartown)

Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown, Mass. is a leader in the organic golf space.
Vineyard GC Larry Lambrecht

13. Hyannisport (Hyannis Port)

14. Charles River (Newton)

15. Oyster Harbors (Oysterville)

16. George Wright (Boston) [P]

George Wright City of Boston Golf

17. Taconic (Williamstown) [P]

18. Winchester (Winchester)

19. Nantucket (Nantucket)

20. Worcester (Worcester)

How we rank our courses

For GOLF’s course rankings lists, each panelist is provided a list of hundreds of courses and “buckets,” or groupings. If they believe the course to be among the best in its category (World, U.S. Value, etc.), they check the corresponding box to place it in a specific bucket. Panelists are also free to write in courses they felt should have been included on the ballot. Points were assigned to each bucket; to arrive at an average score for each course, we divide its aggregate score by the number of votes. From those point tallies, the courses are then ranked accordingly.

The key to the process is the experience and expertise of our panel. Hailing from 15 nations and all the worldwide golf meccas, each of our 115 handpicked panelists has a keen eye for architecture, both regionally and globally. Many of our panelists have played more than 1,000 courses in 20-plus countries.

Because we don’t prescribe a set method to assess courses as other ranks do, no one opinion carries the day — our rank is a democracy. Some panelists believe that enjoyment is the ultimate goal, and thus prioritize design attributes such as width and playing angles, while frowning on upon having to constantly hunt for balls in thick rough. Other panelists value challenge and the demands of hitting every club in the bag. Still others consider a course’s surroundings and overall environment of paramount importance, thereby emphasizing the setting and naturalness of the course. In the end, allowing raters to freely express their tastes is what produces the desired eclecticism in our Top 100 lists.

Panelist integrity is vital. Voters with any ties or associations to eligible courses must flag such conflicts. Panelists also know not to let the quality of their play influence their ballot — same for a luxe experience or clubhouse. While opulence may make for a more a memorable outing, it’s not what GOLF’s course lists are about. Our focus is on design and architecture. We study the course, not the trappings around it.

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