As if Boston wasn't scenic enough or rife with great golf, Bostonians have all of New England to visit when it comes to drivable golf destinations.
New England spells relief from the summer heat experienced in most parts of the country. In the fall, it's even more spectacular, which is why golfers and non-golfers alike love to travel to the northeastern part of the country when the leaves start to change. There's also plenty of hilly and mountainous terrain as well as spectacular coastline.
Here then, is a look at some quality golf destinations no more than a three- or four-hour drive from the Boston area.
Massachusetts, Cape Cod
Perhaps the closest and easiest destination (depending on traffic) is the Cape Cod area. The first stop you might want to make is Plymouth, home of the Plymouth Rock, of course, and some intriguing golf, less than an hour from Boston on the way to Cape Cod. Check into a bed-and-breakfast and check out the golf at Pinehills Golf Club, which has two excellent courses designed by Rees Jones and Nicklaus Design, respectively. Or head over to Waverly Oaks Golf Club, which is a tribute to Donald Ross, courtesy of architect Brian Silva. There are also a couple of cool shorter golf courses in Plymouth -- Squirrel Run Golf Course, an 18-hole layout with 15 par 3s, and Village Links Golf Course, another 18-hole short course.
Then head down the Cape for a little ocean golf if you like. One of my favorites is Highland Links in North Truro. It's only nine holes, but it dates back to 1892 and really is true links, a rarity in North America. The lighthouse alone is worth the trip. And for a little more high-end experience, check out Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club, where Nicklaus Design upgraded the original Silva design that features bentgrass fairways and ocean views.
About two hours west of Boston in Benardston is Crumpin-Fox Club, a Roger Rulewich design that actually took a few decades to come about. Pair that with the 1927 Ross-like Taconic Golf Club, designed by John Van Kleek/Wayne Stiles and located on the campus of Williams College in nearby Williamstown, and you've got a great weekend combo.
If you drive a couple of hours or so to the northwest from Boston, you'll be deep into New Hampshire, which certainly has its share of terrific golf and even better scenery. One of the most popular destinations is the Omni Mount Washington Resort, located in Bretton Woods. This National Historic Landmark, which opened in 1902, boasts the Ross-designed Mount Washington Course in the summer (it's a ski resort in the winter), a luxurious signature spa, fine dining and nine high-flying zip-lines. There's also the nine-hole Mount Pleasant Course, which first opened in 1895. Both have been restored by Silva and feature spectacular mountain views. Another mountain location worth checking out is Stratton Mountain Resort, with its 27-hole, Geoffrey Cornish-designed Stratton Mountain Country Club, which once hosted an LPGA event.
More toward the coast, you'll want to check out semi-private Portsmouth Country Club in Greenland, N.H. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., Portsmouth is certainly one of the best public golf courses in New Hampshire. And while you're there, you might want to see if you can get on to one of the best private clubs in the state, Wentworth by the Sea Country Club in Rye.
In the land of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, there's also some pretty sweet golf. You can take the Ben & Jerry Factory Tour in Waterbury (highly recommended) and then take in some golf at the nearby Country Club of Vermont if you can get on (also highly recommended). But if you can't play the Country Club of Vermont, there's plenty more offerings if you branch out a little. Less than 20 minutes northeast of Waterbury is the Stowe Mountain Resort, which like most ski resorts in New England offers some pretty decent golf. In this case, it's 36 holes, including the Bob Cupp-designed Stowe Mountain Club Golf Course, which meanders along the slopes of Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak.
On the northern end of the state, you'll find the relatively new Jay Peak Championship Golf Course (2006), designed by Canadian Graham Cook. The resort offers lodging and an array of other activities, including a water park. The Woodstock Inn & Resort is in the middle of the state. With great views of the Kedron Valley, the golf course there, Woodstock Country Club, was originally built in 1895 and renovated by Jones Sr.
A little farther south, in Killington, you'll want to check out Green Mountain National Golf Course, a very affordable semi-private facility and one of the best public golf courses in Vermont. Battleboro Country Club, an old Stiles design in the southeast corner of the state, is another fantastic public golf option and very affordable.
And finally, in southern Vermont, you might want to check out The Equinox in Manchester Village, a popular tourist town. Golf is just one of the things you can do at The Equinox Resort. The Golf Club at Equinox, originally designed by Walter Travis, is a 6,423-yard, par-71 course originally opened in 1927 and later renovated by Rees Jones.
Newport Country Club (1894) is one of the oldest clubs in America and also very private. If you can figure out a way to play it, obviously do it. (It was the site of Tiger Woods' 1995 U.S. Amateur victory.) The good news, though, is that there are plenty of quality public golf courses in Rhode Island, many of them classics.
Not far from Newport Country Club is Newport National's Orchard Course in Middletown. It's not a class yet, but this 2002 Arthur Hills/Drew Rogers course is listed among the best public venues in the state and is certainly challenging at nearly 7,300 yards from the tips. A couple of courses that are a few decades older in the area include Green Valley Country Club, a 1957 design by Manual Raposa in Portsmouth, and Allendale Country Club (just across the Massachusetts border in North Dartmouth), built in 1956 and designed by Cornish. Both are open to the public.
Even more impressive, however, is that you can play a Ross design in Providence, about 35 miles north. Ross did a number of courses in Rhode Island, including Wannamoisett Country Club, Warwick Country Club, Metacomet Country Club, Rhode Island Country Club and Triggs Memorial Golf Course. Triggs, however, in the only true public course designed by Ross. Opened in 1932, Ross designed a subtle, yet classic course. It deteriorated over the years, but has been restored in recent years. It's just $38 to walk it during the week.
Coast of Maine
For a little longer road trip, you might want to consider the coast of Maine, which is about three and a half hours north of Boston. My recommendation here is the historic Samoset Resort, which goes back to 1889. The resort actually burned down in 1973 and has changed ownership several times, but it's still a cool summer escape with 18 holes of championship golf. Originally nine holes, Samoset Resort's golf course was rebuilt as an 18-hole facility by Robert Elder in the 1990s.