One of the best things about Massachusetts golf is that you don’t need to be a member of an exclusive club to play great courses. In fact, three top-rated golf courses are right here in Central Massachusetts and they are all open to the public!
Even better, you can visit all of these courses within 15 minutes of each other, and they’re only 40 minutes from Boston So, make a two- or three-day golf event of it or just head out to Central MA for the day! Here’s what you’ll find.
The Oaks at The International, Bolton MA
Many know The International to be a private, exclusive golf club, whose members include professional athletes, celebrities and high-profile personalities. But three years ago, The International opened its newest course, The Oaks, along with several amenities, including a restaurant and hotel, to the general public.
The International is home to two courses: The Pines (private) and The Oaks. Don’t let The Oaks’ open access fool you, though; it’s rated as a Top 10 course by Golf Digest Magazine and is the only public course to make the list.
The Oaks was built in 2001 and is the only Tom Fazio-designed golf course in New England. What makes this course so unique and stunning is its setting, which contains some of the largest pine and oak trees in New England.
As mentioned above, The International also has a small hotel on property, where visitors can find a “Stay and Play Package”, great for a weekend escape or guys’ getaway.
If you head out to play golf in Bolton, plan to stay for dinner at their Fireplace Room Restaurant. Not only does it boast a fabulous chef (Peter Agostinelli, previously of the Bedford Village Inn), you just never know who you might bump into in there.
Shaker Hills Golf Club, Harvard MA
Shaker Hills has always been a beautiful public golf course, but in 2012, it received a little TLC from new owner Fred Curtis, Jr. and company.
Before the work, Shaker Hills was already recognized as one of the top public courses in Massachusetts, and now, thanks to the new ownership, it’s even better.
One major renovation was moving the driving range to better position the view of the 18th hole. Today, what was the old 18th hole, then a 444-yard Par 4, is now a sweeping 560-yard dogleg Par 5, which finishes at the clubhouse.
More improvements came with the installation of a gleaming new clubhouse in 2013, where players can now enjoy large decks and stunning views.
Now one of the most coveted event locations in Central Massachusetts, Shaker Hills has gained acclaim not just as a place to play, but also as a picturesque wedding and event space.
If you decide to golf this gem of a course, stay for lunch or dinner and enjoy the views and tranquility of the surrounding area from the clubhouse.
Red Tail Golf Club, Fort Devens MA
This beautiful course, named after the red-tailed hawks that glide above, is a 7,000+ yard, par 72 course crafted in Nashoba Valley’s great natural landscape, full of hills, ponds, trees and streams.
The terrain varies from classic New England scenery, including maples, birches, oaks and pines, to a setting more reminiscent of coastal courses, with tall grasses and sands. Red Tail’s architect, Brian Silva, was intimately involved in designing the course, which was created to emphasize the area’s natural features, while still being environmentally responsible.
For competitors, Red Tail also offers many open tournaments and events for public players, along with discounts and specials, which you can learn more about on their website.
Lysa Miller is a Massachusetts-based writer whose work covers notable local businesses around the state. Follow her on Twitter @ladybugzinc.