On Course: Golfing Around the Cape

harwich hotels cape cod

It’s often been said that as long as the ground remains free of snow, Cape Cod’s golf courses will remain open. Fall is a great time to hit the links. With a windbreaker or a fleece jacket, not even cooler temperatures will stop golfers from patrolling the fairways, especially this year, when the COVID-19 pandemic has left so many with so few options for entertainment.

There are numerous public golf courses within close proximity of the Seadar Inn By The Sea, ranging from demanding 18-hole championship layouts to more casual and historic nine-hole designs. So, don’t put your clubs in the garage just yet.

Here are a few you can play right now.

Cranberry Valley Golf Course, Harwich

Cranberry Valley Golf Course in Harwich, Massachusetts, USA | Golf Advisor

You could point to a number of reasons why Cranberry Valley Golf Course ranks as one of Cape Cod’s finest public layouts. From the superb practice facility to the intriguing design to the pristine course condition to the scenic cranberry bogs, everything is top-notch.

What sets it apart are the three finishing holes, which is perhaps the most demanding completion to any public course on the Cape.

Imagine walking to the 16th tee with the chance to shoot a career score. Here’s what you’ll face:

A monster 443-yard par 4 that usually plays into the wind; a 205-yard par 3 that is all carry to an elevated green; and a horseshoe-shaped, double dogleg par 5 that requires enough power to clear the corner, and enough finesse to place your iron to a narrow landing area on your second shot.

Three vastly different holes. Three marvelous challenges.

The course is open all year, and some COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed. Although masks are still required in the clubhouse, restaurant and at the driving range, golfers can now rake bunkers and pull flagsticks. Advance tee time reservations are required, and the restaurant closes on Nov. 1.

Harwich Port Golf Club

cape cod golfingThe course closest to the Inn is Harwich Port Golf Club. Built in 1920, this superb nine-hole layout is only 2,461 yards from the tips, yet it provides plenty of challenges in a relaxed, casual setting. The fairways are relatively flat, making it comfortable to walk, and there isn’t a par 5 on the course.

The fairways are well maintained, and there are a number of blind shots from the tee. The course is lined with trees along the edges and throughout the fairway.

It starts out with an especially difficult hole of 358 yards that features a blind shot and a sharp dogleg to the left. The fairways are flat and open, making it a forgiving course.

But it’s a great course for a player who wants more challenge than a par 3 layout, but still just wants to play a quick round in a relaxed setting.

The clubhouse closes after Thanksgiving Day weekend, but the course remains open all year, weather permitting.

Dennis Pines Golf Course, Dennis

Dennis Pines Golf Course in East Dennis, Massachusetts, USA | Golf Advisor

You like holes that seem to stretch for miles, fairways surrounded by majestic pines that are bowling-alley narrow and doglegs that test your decision-making? You’ll get it all at Dennis Pines.

There isn’t a public golf course on Cape Cod that more fully tests a golfer’s skills. From the back tees, the Pines plays to more than 7,000 yards. It’s no picnic from the gold markers at 6,500, either.

The three-hole stretch that begins the back nine is the Pines’ version of Augusta National’s Amen Corner. The 10th and 11th holes form a horseshoe around a large pond, with both fairways sloping toward the water. The second shot on No. 10 is uphill, while it’s easy to run out of fairway off the 11th tee. And then comes the 518-yard dogleg left 12th with a second shot that also bends left and a fairway leaning in that direction.

The course closes for the season on Nov. 25. Golfers are required to wear masks in all public areas in and around the pro shop and on the putting green. They are allowed to pull the flagstick but cannot rake bunkers. Golfers are not required to make an advanced tee time.

Chatham Seaside Links, Chatham

Chatham Seaside Links in Chatham, Massachusetts, USA | Golf Advisor

Located just minutes from downtown Chatham and Chatham Light beach and adjacent to the Chatham Bars Inn, nine-hole Chatham Seaside Links golf course opened in 1895 and is ideal for more casual golfers seeking low-key experience.

The course plays only 2,223 yards from the tips, and includes par 3 holes of 177 and 156 yards, respectively. The longest hole is the fifth, which measures 327. The remaining par 4’s are under 300 yards.

The course is open until Nov. 30 and requires advance tee time reservations. Masks must be worn in the pro shop and on the putting green, and golfers are not allowed to pull flagsticks or rake bunkers. 

The Captains, Brewster

cape cod fall activitiesThis is only one public golf facility on Cape Cod that features 36 holes. Whether you choose the Starboard or Port course, you’ll encounter unique challenges in a classic setting of tree-lined fairways, with subtle, undulating greens.

The Starboard Course includes eight of the original holes from when the facility opened in 1985 and demands accuracy off the tee, thoughtful approaches and the ability to work the ball in different directions. The Port Course is defined by its par 5s, which are rated the first, second, fourth and fifth toughest on the course.

At the Starboard, the signature hole is the par 3 second, which plays 162 yards downhill to a green framed by bunkers. The No. 1-ranked stroke hole on the Port is the treacherous 573-yard eighth, which demands accuracy off the tee, proper club selection on the second shot in order to land your ball on a plateau, and plenty of nerve on a downhill approach that is guarded by a large pond.

The Captains is open all year, although one of the courses will close shortly after Thanksgiving. Masks are required in the pro shop, on the putting green and in the restaurant until seated. Golfers are not allowed to pull flagsticks or rake bunkers. Advance tee time reservations are required. 

Bass River Golf Course, South Yarmouth

Bass River Golf Course in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts, USA | Golf Advisor

It’s not often you can play a classic Donald Ross course without being a member of a private club or forking over hefty greens fees. But you can at Bass River Golf Course.

Opened in 1898, Ross redesigned the course in 1914. Measuring 6,129 yards from the tips, Bass River isn’t about distance. There are par 5 holes that stretch to only 488 and 484, par 4s that are a mere 258, 310, 312 and 328, and a par 3 of 129. But don’t for a moment believe every one of those holes is a cinch par, let alone a prime opportunity for birdie.

Take the 258-yard 10th hole, for example. The drive must find a narrow fairway that slopes sharply right to left toward the woods. The green is perched on a hill, protected by bunkers and a steep embankment on the right.

The ninth is the unquestioned signature hole. One of the most difficult and memorable par 3s on Cape Cod, it runs alongside Bass River. At 169 yards, you’ll usually encounter a howling cross-wind off the water. Drives must find a green that provides no real bailout area.

The course is open all year and accepts walk-on play, although advance reservations are preferred. Golfers are allowed to pull flagsticks, but not to rake bunkers. Masks must be worn in the pro shop and restaurant.

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