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Boston's golf courses are like Boston's restaurants--there aren't many of them, but the good ones are excellent. Boston has the advantage of being a small city, making the suburban golf courses easy to get to. It also has the good fortune to be located in New England, one of the nation's most scenic regions.
The Country Club is Boston's best course, in addition to being its most famous. It was there that Julius Boros beat Arnold Palmer in the 1963 U.S. Open, after both golfers had tied in regulation at the astronomical total of 293, five over par.
Located in Brookline, TCC is the closest Boston comes to the British style of golf--tight fairways, long rough, and small greens. The only problem is that play is strictly limited to members and their guests, so know somebody before you head out there.
The 36 holes at Stowe Acres represent American golf at its best. The course is tough to get to, twenty-five miles west of Boston in the tiny town of Stowe. But the golf is tremendous, the greens fees don't get any lower, and the courses are never crowded.
The closer into Boston the courses are, the more expensive and crowded they get. Unfortunately, the best of the local courses--Woodlawn in Newton, Nashawtuck in Concord, the Lexington Golf Club, the Winchester Country Club, and the Belmont Country Club, which is just recovering from having a highway built across its back nine--are all private clubs.
Most of them honor memberships from out-of-state clubs, though. They will extend guest privileges if some kind of membership identification is shown. Naturally, it always helps to know a member.
The public courses get very crowded during the weekends, but are relatively open on all weekdays except on Tuesdays, Ladies' Day on almost every course in the country. The Colonial in Lynnfield is the best. Located on route 128, it used to be the home of "Hole in One," a local golf show. It's in good shape, and the rates are reasonable.
Riverside on the Newton - Wellesley border is a popular public course, and is easy to get to by subway. Ponkapoag in Canton is the best public course south of Boston. And there's always the Cambridge Municipal on Fresh Pond, which can boast of convenience and nothing else.
For a weekend of golf, New England has three courses that rank among the best in the nation. First is the Equinox in Manchester, Vermont, the greatest of New England's mountain courses. It's part of the Equinox Hotel, a comfortable spot to spend the weekend.
Second is the Island Country Club on Martha's Vineyard. It would be a shame to spend four years at Harvard without visiting the Vineyard, and the Island is a good excuse. Mild winners keep it in good shape all year long, and if you get tired of golf you can take off your shoes and go swimming.
Last is the Pleasant Valley course in Sutton, home of the Kemper Open, New England's major professional golf tournament. Pleasant Valley has one out-standing feature--its greens, which range up to 15,000 square feet, larger than the main dining hall at the Freshman Union.
New Englanders take their golf seriously, especially in the springtime after a long cold winter. But they love the game, and as long as your manners are good, they'll play with you no matter how bad you are.
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