September 7, 2018
Navigating to Hazards
These 7 coastal courses let the boating golfer (or golfing boater) enjoy the best of both worlds! By Tom Richardson
Cape Cod National Golf Course, Brewster, MA
Pleasant Bay is one of Cape Cod’s most idyllic boating locales, and the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club in Harwich offers an equally peaceful destination, whether you are staying for lunch or a romantic weekend. It makes sense to book an overnight stay, however, because guests are granted access to the prestigious Cape Cod National Golf Club in nearby Brewster.
Wequassett offers commanding views of Pleasant Bay and maintains several deepwater guest moorings, along with launch service and a dock for dropping off gear and passengers. The resort features luxury rooms, two swimming pools, tennis courts and four restaurants, all on magnificently manicured grounds. Named by Golf Digest as the fourth-best new course in the country when it opened in 1998, Cape Cod National is an astonishingly dramatic layout, with tree-lined fairways framed by 18-inch-high fescue; steep elevation changes; quick, subtle greens, and deep, penal bunkers. There isn’t a private home to spoil the surroundings; it’s just the golfer and the course.
Bass River Golf Course, Yarmouth, MA
The Bass River, which flows into Nantucket Sound and separates Yarmouth and West Dennis, is Cape Cod’s longest estuary and a popular destination for cruisers, fishermen, sailors and paddlers. Transient boaters can dock at the Ship Shops Marina in Yarmouth or at the Bass River Marina in West Dennis. Bass River Marina is also home to the Summer Shanty, a popular dock-and-dine restaurant. Not far from the Route 28 bridge in Yarmouth is the venerable Bass River Golf Course.
While you can drive or taxi to the course from both marinas, you’re also welcome to beach a dinghy on the riverbank behind the clubhouse, which is a much cooler way to go. The course, one of Cape Cod’s oldest, opened in 1900 as a private nine-hole club and was redesigned in 1914 by noted architect Donald Ross. Today, the 18-hole layout features wide fairways and small, undulating greens that offer plenty of unique challenges.
Bay Pointe Golf Course, Onset, MA
Boating and golf mix well in Onset, a village of Wareham just off the Cape Cod Canal. Boaters will find a welcome home at the Brewer Onset Bay Marina, located less than one mile from Bay Pointe Golf Club, as well as Stone Bridge Marina, on Broad Cove. The former offers transient slips and moorings for boats up to 100 feet and can arrange transportation to and from the course.
Bay Pointe is a different sort of golf course. You alternate between wondering how you’ll make par and imagining there is no way you won’t make birdie. Designed by Geoffrey Cornish and opened in 1964, it was the Wareham Country Club until changing its name 25 years ago. The Jekyll and Hyde design begins with a brutally difficult opening stretch that includes the No. 1 handicap par-4 second of 465 yards and the 452-yard par-4 fifth. It then eases up, allowing you to catch your breath at the 283-yard sixth and the 101- yard seventh before sending the 227-yard eighth your way. The card measures 6,201 from the tips, but Bay Pointe plays much longer when you consider that one hole is only 101 yards. That leaves 17 holes playing at 6,100 to a par-70, and that means plenty of difficult challenges. The tiny seventh stands as the signature hole. Just a chip onto a green surrounded by water and overshadowed by condos, it has a way of ruining rounds with balls that find watery graves.
Onset Bay itself makes a great day trip or weekend destination, with several charming Victorian inns and bed & breakfasts, a variety of restaurants and one of the most underrated beaches in Massachusetts. Plus, it offers immediate access to the Cape Cod Canal and Buzzards Bay.
Reservation Golf Course, Mattapoisett, MA
If you’re up for a “commando-style” approach to golfing, try this under-the-radar option in Mattapoisett. Boaters can slip in a round at Reservation Golf Course Monday through Friday, from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m., by beaching their dinghy on the Town Beach, adjacent to the mouth of the Mattapoisett River, and then making the short walk to Reservation’s clubhouse. Built on the site of a former Wampanoag summer camp, Reservation is a nine-hole course with views of Mattapoisett Harbor, Eel Pond and the Mattapoisett River.
Boating accommodations are easy to find in Mattapoisett. You can grab a free mooring courtesy of Triad Boatworks on a first-come, first-served basis (look for the green-topped buoys marked “TBW” along the southern edge of the mooring field fairway), while Mattapoisett Boatyard rents transient moorings and runs launch service in the harbor. If you’re looking to spend the night ashore, you can rent a room at the Mattapoisett Inn and enjoy dinner at the Inn at Shipyard Park, both located on Water Street across from the town wharf and its free dinghy dock. A short walk through the village brings you to Route 6 and a host of shops and additional restaurants.
Chebeague Island Golf Course, Great Chebeague Island, ME
Maine’s Casco Bay boasts some of the most delightful cruising waters in the Northeast, with dozens of gorgeous islands and mainland ports. But it gets even better for golfers, because Casco Bay is where you’ll find the magical Chebeague Island Golf Course on Great Chebeague Island. Boaters can launch from several nearby ports, including Portland, Falmouth, Yarmouth and Harpswell.
Upon arrival, you can drop anchor or arrange for a mooring off the island’s municipal pier. Dinghies and small boats may be left at the pier with permission from the harbormaster. The golf course is just a few hundred feet from the pier, in the shadow of the magnificent Chebeague Island Inn. You’ll likely want to book a room at the inn after laying eyes on its sprawling porch, where you can indulge in evening cocktails and hors d’ouevres while watching the sunset. The dinner menu is superb, and a Sunday jazz brunch often draws a crowd. The course is forgiving and short, known for producing more holes-in-one than any mainland course. Maybe it’s the amazing views of Casco Bay or refreshing ocean breezes that do the trick!
Harbor Lights Golf Course, Warwick, RI
There aren’t many water-accessible golf courses in Rhode Island, but Harbor Lights Golf and Country Club on Warwick Cove fills the bill—especially since it boasts a marina with dedicated transient slips. Other marina amenities include a pool, bar, restaurant, picnic area, WiFi, fuel dock, service and more. Best of all, boaters enjoy special rates and privileges at the nearby nine-hole course. The well-manicured, par-72 course— originally part of the former Seaview Country Club—was redesigned by architect Geoffrey Cornish. The layout boasts lush, rolling fairways, undulating bentgrass greens and, of course, stunning views of Narragansett Bay.
Fenwick Golf Course, Old Saybrook, CT
The 18-hole Fenwick Golf Course in Old Saybrook is the oldest public golf course in Connecticut. The first three holes (5, 6 and 7) were laid out in 1894, while holes 2, 3 and 4 were added in 1895. A full nine-hole layout was completed in 1896.
Situated on a peninsula at the mouth of the Connecticut River, the Fenwick Golf Course is a links course, open for play year-round, dependent on the weather. There are spectacular views of the Connecticut River, Long Island Sound or the South Cove from every hole. Starting times are used between May 1 and October 31, and you can arrange for a starting time 24 hours in advance by calling (860) 388-2516.
Daily greens fees range from $28 to $70 during peak season, and includes use of a pull cart. No motorized carts are available. Cash and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover) are accepted.
Visiting boaters can stay at the Saybrook Point Marina & Spa, about a mile from the course (transportation can be arranged through the marina). The marina features well-protected slips with water, electric and WiFi, as well as showers, laundry, a gym/spa and onsite restaurant and dock bar.