Review: Braintree Municipal Golf Course

Course Name: Braintree Municipal Golf Course

Designer: Frank Heaney (1920), Sam Mitchell (1969, Redesign)

Location: Braintree, Massachusetts

History: There are some conflicting accounts, but the most likely is 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. Judging by the difference between the front and back sides, this seems plausible.

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 great value, especially to Mass. residents. I payed $25 to walk 18 on a weekend, and would do it again at that discount.

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 Highlights: By virtue of its two different designers, Braintree felt like two different courses. Most of the front 9 seemed to be “classic” design, while the back 9 featured large greens and narrow fairways lined with water. The 1st hole at Braintree is the easiest on the course. At only 335 yards, this hole plays downhill and provides a generous landing area. The only difficult aspect of this hole is the fact that you might have a severe downhill lie depending on where you drive it. The 2nd hole is another short par 4 at 335 yards. This dogleg right features some danger, however, as trees line both sides of this wide fairway. Driver is probably not the right play here, as a pond stretches 230 yards off the tee all the way to the right side of the green. At 171 yards, the uphill 3rd is a challenging par 3 that plays longer than the distance. Hitting this narrow green is difficult as is getting up-and-down thanks to a steep back to front and left to right slope. Another short par 4, the 4th only plays 302 yards. Hitting the fairway on this hole is imperative, as deep bunkers line both sides of the fairway.

After the pretty par 3 5th, the 6th is the first par 5 on the course 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 three straight shots to make a par. On the left of this hole is the beautiful Braintree Reservoir. To me, the 7th hole was the most challenging hole on the course at 383 yards. This dogleg left is confusing off the tee as this narrow fairway is lined by water on both sides. A creek also crosses this fairway about 70 yards from the green, making the layup difficult for those who hit poor tee shots. A bogey is not a bad score here considering there are so many good scoring chances on the first 5 holes. The beautiful par 5 8th is one of the most aesthetically pleasing on the course. This hole is a sharp dogleg left that turns sharply at about 240 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. The approach on this hole is straight downhill and 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 side while water lines the entire lefthand side here.

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 certainly reachable in two, but a conservative play off the tee to find the fairway is not a bad move. The number 1 handicap 11th is indeed a challenging hole at 408 yards. Water lines both sides of this tight fairway and a crossbunker right in front of this green catches many well-struck approach shots. Although simple, I was a huge fan of the 172 yard par 3 12th. This green is huge, but features all sorts of danger around it. Another short par 5, the 465 yard 13th is narrow and straightforward, lending many birdies to drives that find the fairway. Strangely, there is a goat farm in the right woods on this hole, and these goats are pretty friendly. The 14th hole is another difficult long par 4 at 411 yards. A pond lines the left hand side of this hole while woods line the right side. After another water-lined straight par 4, the par 3 16th plays similarly to the 12th at 174 yards. This large green has to be the flattest green on the course. The 17th hole is a departure from the previous 7 holes. This 347 yard par 4 is also lined by water, but a wide creek bisects this fairway 220 yards from the tee, making driver a risky play. The finishing hole is a return to the classic design as a blind 314 uphill par 4. The driving area is especially generous on the left hand side but trees short left of the green might obscure the approach angle. The green here is perched, with steep slopes on the right and back sides.

General Comments: The range here is pretty tiny, but the chipping/putting 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 better public golf courses in the Boston area and one I would definitely recommend.

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