Review: Braintree Municipal Golf Course

Course Name: Braintree Municipal Golf Course

Designer: Frank Heaney (1920, original 9), Sam Mitchell (1969, Redesign, 11 holes)

Location: Braintree, Massachusetts

History: There are some conflicting accounts on who designed the course, but I tend to agree with my colleague at CognizantGolf.com who purports that Braintree began in 1920 as a 9 hole course. It was redesigned by Sam Mitchell in the 1960’s, but he kept 7 of the original 9 holes (1-4, 8, 9, and 18).

Conditions: 8/10, I was incredibly impressed with the conditioning of this course in late Fall. The greens were some of the best I’ve played and minus a few bare spots in the rough, Braintree was in fantastic shape.

Value: 7/10, Easy to walk, Braintree offers one of the best values in the area, especially for Mass. residents. Peak weekend mornings are $44, but twilight and other discounts can be found. We payed $25 to walk 18 on a weekend, and would do it again at that price.

Scorecard:

Tee                           Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Blue                         72           6554               71.4              125

White                      72           6212               70.0              123

Gold                         72           5493               66.1              112

Green                      72           5087               69.1              113

Best Score: 80 (White Tees), 11/5/2016 with Mike S.

Front 9 Best: 40 (White Tees), 11/5/2016 with Mike S.

Back 9 Best: 40 (White Tees), 11/5/2016 with Mike S.

Hole Descriptions: By virtue of its two different designers, Braintree feels like two different courses. The front 9 is shorter and incorporates many of the older, classically designed holes, while the back 9 features large greens and narrow fairways lined with water. As a self-avowed fan of classic golf course design, I enjoyed the front side more, and found the back to be a bit boring.

The opening hole at Braintree eases you into your round as the 18th handicap hole. At only 335 yards, this hole plays downhill and blind to a very generous landing area. The only difficult aspect of this hole is the fact that you might have a severe downhill lie on your approach. I opened with birdie here and feel like anything worse would feel like a bogey.

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The downhill approach on the par 4 1st

The 2nd hole is another short par 4 again at 335 yards. This dogleg right features some danger, however, as trees line both sides of this wide fairway. Driver is not the right play here, as a pond stretches 230 yards off the tee all the way to the right side of the green. Hit the fairway here and this becomes an easy hole.

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Can’t miss right on the par 4 2nd

At 171 yards, the uphill 3rd is a challenging par 3 that plays longer than the distance on the scorecard. Hitting this narrow green is difficult as is getting up-and-down thanks to a steep back-to-front and left-to-right slope. Multiple bunkers guard either side of this difficult green. Another short par 4, the 4th hole is reachable at only 302 yards. Hitting the fairway on this hole is imperative, as deep bunkers line both sides. Despite being an older hole, the 4th green is rather large and receptive.

At 165 yards, the par 3 5th is the first of the new holes you’ll encounter at Braintree. While rather plain, this is a pretty tree-lined one-shotter with a large green guarded by a bunker short right.

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Looking back from the 5th green

The 6th is the first par 5 at Braintree and a taste of things to come on the back 9. Water lines both sides of the narrow fairway on this 494 yard hole that requires two or three straight shots to make a good score. The water on your left here is the beautiful Braintree Reservoir.

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The short par 5 6th narrows after the drive

To me, the 7th hole is the most challenging hole on the course at 383 yards. This dogleg left’s teebox juts out into the water, which lines both sides of this tight fairway. A creek also crosses the fairway about 70 yards short of the green, making the layup difficult for those who hit poor tee shots. Considering there are so many good scoring chances on the first 5 holes, a bogey here won’t ruin your round. The beautiful 500 yard par 5 8th is one of the most aesthetically pleasing on the course, especially with the Autumn leaves lining this fairway. This hole is a sharp dogleg left that turns left at about 220 yards. The uphill drive here gives players options – a well struck long iron or hybrid is sure to find the fairway but leaves a long approach shot, while an aggressive drive can cut the corner over a bunker. The approach on this hole runs straight downhill and is quite tight, as tall trees line both sides. The 364 yard 9th appears much longer than it actually is due to an elevated green and intimidating teeshot. Trees jut out on the right while water lines the entire lefthand side here. This approach runs uphill back towards the clubhouse.

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The uphill approach on the par 4 9th

The back 9 unfortunately becomes monotonous fairly quickly, as almost every hole is flat, simple, and lined with water on both sides. This is certainly true for the par 5 10th that plays straightaway at 481 yards. This hole is reachable in two, but a conservative play off the tee to find this tight fairway might be the play. A bunker found just left of this large green is the only one on the hole. The number 1 handicap 11th is indeed a challenging hole at 408 yards. Water lines both sides of this narrow fairway and a crossbunker directly in front of this green catches many well-struck approach shots. Although simple, I was a fan of the 172 yard par 3 12th. This green is huge, but juts out into the water that surrounds it on three sides. This green slopes hard back-to-front.

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The 12th green is surrounded by water on three sides

Another short par 5, the 465 yard 13th is narrow and straightforward, yielding plenty of birdies to drives that find the fairway. While this hole is rather bland, be sure to say hi to the goats just right of this fairway. I have no idea how they got there or who owns them, but it’s a pretty cool feature.

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The straightaway par 5 13th from the tee
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Easily the coolest feature on the Back 9

The 14th hole is another difficult long par 4 at 411 yards. A pond lines the left side of this fairway while woods line the right. This hole slides gently to the right and features another large back-to-front green. Shockingly, the 15th is another water-lined straightaway 391 yard par 4. The only thing that differentiates this hole from the previous 5 is the fact that it has two bunkers flanking its green. At 174 yards, the par 3 16th plays similarly to the 12th, but is more forgiving. This large green is extremely flat, making this one of the easiest holes on the course.

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The flat straightforward 16th – it was getting dark by this point

The 17th hole provides a slight departure from the previous 7 holes, and this is certainly appreciated. This 347 yard par 4 is also lined by water, but a wide creek bisects this fairway 220 yards off the tee, making anything more than iron a risky play.

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The par 4 17th from the tee

The closing hole is a return to the classic design as a blind 314 uphill par 4. The driving area is especially generous on the left, but trees short left of the green might obscure your approach. The green here is perched, with steep slopes on the right and behind.

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The approach on 18 – daylight savings time is the enemy of golf

Best Par 3: 3rd Hole, 171 yards, 10th handicap. This is the hardest one-shotter on the course due to the fact that it plays uphill and features a very skinny green. The only acceptable miss on this hole is short, as bunkers and a back-to-front slope make getting up-and-down a difficult task.

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The uphill par 3 3rd is one of the hardest pars at Braintree

Best Par 4: 7th Hole, 383 yards, 2nd handicap. The best of the new holes at Braintree, this is a tight dogleg left with several chances to make a big score. Teeing up from a neat peninsular teebox, you need to hit your drive straight and relatively long to have a go at this green. A creek running through this fairway and a short left bunker make this hole even more difficult.

Best Par 5: 8th Hole, 500 yards, 6th handicap. Easily my favorite hole at Braintree, this is a fun dogleg left par 5 that gives players options off the tee. Do you cut the corner for a chance at this green or ensure you hit the fairway and prepare for a layup? Of all the classically designed holes, this one feels most authentic.

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The uphill teeshot on the par 5 8th

General Comments: Braintree’s range is pretty tiny, but the practice green is expansive and in good condition. Pace of play was decent, but I wish the ranger that went by a few times actually talked to the group in front of us. Apparently, Braintree is very strict with bringing outside alcohol, so keep that in mind.

Verdict: Although the holes get a bit repetitive, especially on the Back 9, Braintree Municipal offers excellent conditioning, great value, and a really beautiful backdrop. This is certainly one of the most underrated public golf courses in the Boston area and one I would definitely recommend.

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