BREWSTER, Mass. -- The allure of the beaches of Cape Cod is very real. They're so gorgeous.
It's so easy to forget there are greener pastures elsewhere worth seeing. There are more than 50 golf courses on Cape Cod and its iconic islands, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.
Many of the best are either private or attached to pricey resorts with high green fees. Thankfully, there is also a strong collection of local favorites -- many of them municipal courses -- that can make a three-day, $200 golf trip possible. This won't be your traditional golf trip. By keeping an open mind as part-tourist/part-golfer, you'll love the whole experience.
Blue Rock Golf Resort in South Yarmouth, Mass.
Start off with a morning round at Blue Rock Golf Resort in South Yarmouth. The 2,868-yard executive course -- one of the top par 3s in America -- has 18 holes ranging from 103 yards to 255 yards, a perfect way to warm up your game. The fourth, ninth and 18th holes play across a river. Nothing on the Cape is cheap in summer. Even a par-3 course such as Blue Rock will cost between $40 and $65. The beauty of this option is you can bring beginner golfers along or meet up with family and friends later that afternoon for some beach time.
Captains Golf Course in Brewster, Mass.
The real golf fix comes in the mid-Cape courtesy of the 36-hole Captains Golf Course in Brewster. The Port Course might be slightly better than the Starboard Course, although they're very comparable. From June to September, the green fees stay the same no matter the day. Every day is a weekend on the Cape. Skip the $76 rate before 9 a.m. Instead, shoot for the tee times around 10 a.m. costing $69. That will give you enough time for a quick lunch before your second round of the day. It will cost a mere $35 after 4 p.m. to play the other course.
By now you're wondering: How can I play tomorrow with less than $50 in my pocket (depending upon the cost of the round at Blue Rock)? It's time to get creative.
Highland Links Golf Course in North Truro, Mass.
The Highland Links Golf Course in North Truro, near the tip of the Cape, looks like the region's oldest course because it is, dating to 1892. The scruffy nine-holer lacks length (at 2,665 yards) and clubhouse amenities (there are few in a tiny shack). Its personality and charm fill the void.
Highland Links might be the only true links on the entire East Coast. The fairways run firm and fast. The howling winds off the Atlantic Ocean make club selection impossible. An ocean cliff, long fescue grasses and the adjacent lighthouse all add visual stimulation along the journey. The summer rates under a new management company, Johnson Golf Management, Inc., have yet to be determined, but the 2013 rate of $35 has been in place since 2006.
Spending the day in P-Town
Since you've come this far -- it's not easy fighting the traffic to the tip of the Cape -- spending the day at the Cape Cod National Seashore or in Provincetown makes perfect sense. P-Town, as it's called, offers whale watching with the Dolphin Fleet and fun jeep rides with Art's Dune Tours. Restaurants, bars, art galleries and shops line its narrow streets. Taking in a magnificent sunset along the shore will provide the perfect ending to a great trip.