With apologies (but not too many) to David Letterman, here are the Top 10 Reasons (and Places) to Play Golf on Cape Cod. After sitting in stop-and-go conditions, you'll want to play someplace -- anyplace -- fast. Well, OK, cranberries -- one of the Cape's cash crops -- actually grow in bogs, and it's hard to pick one when you're waist-deep in the muck (which is why farmers flood the bogs at harvest time in the autumn and scoop up the floating berries).
Given the number of families claiming Mayflower heritage, the boat must have been as big as the Queen Mary II.
The course was renovated about 10 years ago by Jim Fazio, working with the irrepressible Chi Chi Rodriquez.
Ballymeade is a little more expensive than most Cape courses, but, after all, you can afford it. You'll find the usual Cape Cod terrain of gentle hills, fairways tightly bordered by those scrubby Cape Cod pines, with a few large hardwoods thrown in for good measure, more than a few water holes, and good strategic bunkering.
Originally laid out in 1900, this course was redesigned by Donald Ross in 1914 and its one of the Cape's most venerable tracks.
The routing is more typical Cape golf: heavily tree-lined fairways that will give claustrophobics the willies, smallish greens surrounded by deep fescue rough and the occasional bunker. As always, there are a healthy handful of truly wonderful golf courses on the Cape reserved for members only. Geoffrey Cornish is one of Massachusetts' better home-grown architects, and his Holly Ridge course in Sandwich is a perfectly lovely par-three course. And one of my all-time favorite Cape Cod golf experiences came at the Highland Links in Truro, on the road up to Provincetown.


Though just nine holes and often somewhat raggedy around the edges, this course offers one of the few authentically Scottish-style links golf experiences to be found on this side of the pond. The Geoffrey Cornish design bypasses a couple of working bogs, along with some wetland marshes. Still, if you insist on maintaining your patrician roots, try a round at Ballymeade, the queen of the Cape's public courses. Delightfully old fashioned, this is a nice antidote to the highly manicured, target golf design of the modern era.
Formerly known as Round Hill, the course starts and ends atop that elevation, and there are some nice views of Cape Cod Bay along the way. Pines border almost every fairway of this twisting layout which stretches all the way out to 7,000 yards. But the terrain is rolling and the design, one of the earliest courses by Michael Hurdzan, can be tricky in spots. Get out the Rolodex and find someone you know who can get you on one of the top-notch private courses.
One of the world headquarters for, ummm, "alternative" lifestyles, P' town is an interesting place, but for something different on the golf course, two suggestions. Playing a par-three track is always an underrated experience - we all need practice with the short game - and this imaginative design is a joy to play.
One of the oldest courses in the United States, dating from 1892, the course plays in the shadow of the towering Truro Lighthouse.
Built in an area of towering sand dunes, and with some stunning ocean views, this treeless course is at the mercy of the wind and weather.


The two main highways that provide access to Cape Cod end in traffic rotaries before they cross the Cape Cod Canal, which means traffic almost always backs up -- usually for miles in both directions during busy summer weekends. There are now 27 holes here, the course is good for walking, and it's an enjoyable layout through the piney woods. But after a day of hanging around the famous Kennedy compound in Hyannis, or just with some time to kill before catching the ferry over to Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket, a round at the Hyannis muni isn't a waste of time.
It's usually in pretty good condition, and there's a nice clubhouse where you can sit at the "bah" before you go get your "cah" and relive the glories of Camelot. The view from the tee of the downhill par-3 11th is great: Buzzard's Bay and, on a rare clear day, Martha's Vineyard can be spotted off in the distance. A round of golf at Bass River golf course in Yarmouth is almost as good as fishing on the Bass River. Conditions are usually good -- if not great -- and the best thing is that it's less than 10 miles from the Bourne Bridge.
The twin courses here -- Port and Starboard -- were designed by Brian Silva, and while the actual ocean is never in sight, the usually fresh ocean breeze does affect play in a big way.



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