Bean Town. The most populous town in New England at just over 700,000 (metro area total of about 4.8 million) and one of the hardest places to find parking on Earth. Most famous for the Tea Party (the 1773 one) and the championship legacies of the Red Sox, Celtics and my Patriots. For a city many consider the greatest sports town in America (sorry New York, Green Bay and Dallas) you’d think they’d have a ton of great golf. Not so. Of all the Metro Guides I’ve outlined, this was the hardest to flesh out. My personal experience is limited, granted (I’ve only been there twice), but I expected more out of Boston than this. That said, it is the 15th-busiest travel hub in the United States, so you just might end up here and want to golf.
Airport: Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
5 Great Golf Courses
- The International Golf Club — Oaks Course (46.8 miles from BOS): Boston doesn’t have much in terms of “golf resorts” but The International is one, and a quality one at that. Tom Fazio’s Oaks Course opened in 2001 and is my preferred 18 for the memorable, picturesque land.
- Granite Links Golf Club (12.6 miles from BOS): If you like epic views (including some of the city), bridges, immaculate and challenging play, stunning topography and one of the best 19th holes in golf (The Tavern), then you’ll probably enjoy Granite Links. It’s my favorite Boston area course for all those reasons — my one “must play” for anyone coming to town. Close to the airport and with 27 holes (with the Quincy nine).
- The International Golf Club — The Pines (46.8 miles from BOS): Built in 1901 and upgraded to 18 holes by Geoffrey Cornish and Francis Ouimet (then later tweaked by Robert Trent Jones) this is America’s longest golf course at 8,325 yards.
- Red Tail Golf Club (44.0 miles from BOS): I’ve never seen a Red Tailed hawk there, but I’m told they exist, and therein stems the name. That said, everything else people told me about this Brian Silva design turned out to be true. What a beautiful and diverse golf property, with so many different ecosystems, that it both does, and doesn’t at all, feel like Boston. This is the public Boston course that I most wish I could play again (in better weather), with fantastic holes at 6, 12, 14 and 18, just to name a few.
- Pinehills Golf Club — Rees Jones Course (48.6 miles southeast of BOS): There are two quality courses here, the other being a Jack Nicklaus design. I like Rees’ better, with the two epic 5-pars at 9 and 15, but both courses are worth playing if you have the time — a great 36-hole day. Stop and see Plymouth Rock. It’s small but historic. Check out the Mayflower, too.
4 Signature Golf Holes
- No. 15 at Pinehills Golf Club — Nicklaus Course: I gave Rees Jones the course love, so Jack gets the hole love. A great par 3 with an extensive, daunting carry.
- No. 14 at Red Tail: Hard to pick one favorite from Silva’s collection, but the view, topsy turvy terrain and punchbowl green of 14 made it impossible not to mention.
- No. 1 at Granite Links: Speaking of hard to choose! I went with the first hole on the Granite 9, an epic par 5, because it introduces you to Boston’s best golf experience. Full disclosure, any of these Granite 9 holes would have been a sufficient substitution: 4, 5, 6, 7 (love this hole!), 8, 9 — and don’t miss the city view behind the green on Milton’s 14.
- No. 8 at The Ledges Golf Club (in Maine): No typo. I wanted to give you an idea how close you are to Maine and all the lobster it provides when you are in Boston. Only 66.9 miles to this great par 3.
3 Family Tourism Highlights
- Plymouth Rock and The Mayflower II: Plymouth Rock, where the Mayflower Pilgrims disembarked back in 1620 (supposedly) is actually just a piece of that “rock” now. But it’s still historic and still cool to see. The Mayflower II obviously is not the same boat the Pilgrims came over on, but the replica ship (dating back to 1955) is still also cool to see.
- Boston Public Garden and The Freedom Trail: The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile-long path through downtown Boston consisting of 16 historic locations. Visit Bunker Hill and for sure visit Boston Commons, where one of my favorite books of all-time, Robert McCloskey’s “Make Way for Ducklings," was based. If you have kids, take them on the Swan Boats and go find Nancy Schon’s famous statue of the mother duck and her eight ducklings (Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack).
- Gillette Stadium: If you know anything about me at all, you know I’m a Patriots fan. It would physically hurt me (I think) to omit a visit to this palace, if for no other reason than to say that you walked on the same ground as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.
2 Great Lodging Bases
- The InterContinental Hotel: If you fly into Boston and don’t have your own car, you’re kind of lucky. You can pick a base and walk/Uber your way to sporting events and golf courses and avoid the insane traffic/parking headaches others have to face. There’s no such thing as “budget” hotels in downtown Boston, but I love the InterContinental’s waterfront perch, proximity to so many incredible touristic sites and great food and rooms. If you can afford the cheapest luxury hotel in Boston, stay here.
- Ocean Edge Resort: Can you experience real Boston without experiencing Cape Cod? I mean, I guess you can, but if you have the time, why would you want to? Those beaches and lighthouses ... and there’s great golf out there, too, with a luxurious stay that offers you an otherwise exclusive play at this resort. Yes, it’s 85.6 miles from the airport, but you won’t complain with this setting.
1 Must-Eat Restaurant
- Faneuil Hall: (Sounds like “Daniel”) Located near the waterfront, this marketplace is as rich in history as it is in great smells of so many food varieties. A build-your-own buffet type of place you can eat and shop, and shop then eat to your heart and stomach’s content. My kids consider this their favorite restaurant in Boston, and my wallet won’t argue. It’s not fancy, but it’s fun, and after all the money you’re forced to spend doing anything in this place, you’ll appreciate the relative bargain of this experience.