#4, Par 3, 209 Yards
The first one-shotter at Old Sandwich is a brute, with the back tee taking it all the way back to 238 yards. The triangular green has two bunkers on the right and one in the rear. There is plenty of room to miss on the left. Par is a good score--my playing partner made birdie to defeat my par...I felt violated!
#15, Par 3, 168 Yards
Playing to the extreme southern portion of the property, this par three demands that you hit a good short iron to a target bounded by bunkers in the front and left of the green.
New England is full of American history. Every year, millions of visitors walk the Freedom Trial in Boston, which includes Old North Church, Paul Revere's House, and many other Revolutionary War era sites. However, taking a trip roughly an hour to the South, visitors can see sites and monuments that pre-date the revolution. The most famous site in that neck of the woods is probably Plymouth Rock, which famously has the year 1620 stamped on it. However, one historical site that pre-dates the Rock is the Old Sandwich Road. Today, a paved road, Old Sandwich Road is known as the first public road in America, which first began as a path used by the Wampanoag tribe. To segue back to a golf blog, this old path is what serves as the namesake for Old Sandwich Golf Club.
The Club opened in 2004, and sits on a sandy piece of land in the area known as the Pinehills. Golf is not a rarity in this area, as five golf courses lay in an area no larger than a few square miles, straddling the famous Route 3 (Pilgrims Highway) that runs from Boston to Cape Cod. The famous team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw were responsible for routing and building Old Sandwich Golf Club. Similar to their other layouts, Coore and Crenshaw created a course with great width, to create strategic options on a firm and fast track. Greens are large and undulating; hazards are ample, but avoidable to the higher handicapper; and the course is fun and visually beautiful.
Make no mistake, Old Sandwich is a golf club. There are no pools, tennis courts, or banquet rooms. However, there ARE guest houses. Old Sandwich has members that come in from great distances, and the guest houses make for a great spot to stay and play, rather than having to go back and forth to other lodging.
A close friend had arranged this round, and we were to play as unaccompanied guests of his boss. When we arrived, we were made to feel welcome and spent a few minutes in the swanky locker room to change shoes and take in the culture of the club.
#11, Par 3, 217 Yards
There are three one-shot holes on the inward nine and the first of them is a brute! Composite Tees put you on the Middle Tee on this one...if you were to be playing the Back Tees, it would extend to 244 yards (the first picture is taken from the Back Tee). There is ample fairway grass to catch a shot that doesn't make it all the way to the green. Also, the green is good-sized and there are no hazards to carry to reach it. So, while long, it's plenty fair.
#16, Par 4, 460 Yards
The 16th hole is a long par four. In fact, it plays from 486 yards from the Back Tees. However, it doesn't play as long as the length. The drive is blind and uphill, but after you hit the crest of the hill, it's downhill the rest of the way. Your shot into the green can, and should, be played well short of the green to allow the contour of the land to roll it onto the surface. If I remember correctly, the caddy told me to play it 30 yards short of the green, and it worked.
From there, we would head out to the range to hit a few balls and loosen up. The practice area at Old Sandwich is terrific, with ample room for putting, chipping, and bunker practice as well. Our caddy came out to meet us at the range and pointed us in the right direction when it was time to head to the first tee (it's a ways away from the range--a cart ride).
#17, Par 3 191 Yards
The last three holes at Old Sandwich are a long haul--two long par fours and a relatively long par three. For a high handicapper, just getting it over all the tall grass and junk is a challenge. However, once you clear that, there are six bunkers to avoid too.
When we were ready to go, we walked across a narrow path that divides the pond in front of the clubhouse, known as Whipple Reservoir. Once we reached the other side, we need to decide on what tees to play. Old Sandwich offers three sets of tees, with two composite scorecards options that add flexibility. From the back, the course plays to 6,908 yards; middle is 6,415 yards and the front tees are 5,400 yards. We thought it would be a bit presumptuous to march up to the back tees as unaccompanied guests, but knew that Old Sandwich plays firm and fast and thought we wanted a bit more teeth than the middle tees. So, we went with the composite tees that play as a blend of the Back and Middle tees. While the Back Tees play to a rating and slope of 74.1 and 139, we would get a bit of assistance here and there from our tees that graded out at 72.7 and 135. All tees play to a par of 71. I'll quote the composite tees below:
#13, Par 5, 560 Yards
Bunkers straddle the landing area off the tee and then wait for a shot missed to the left on the second shot. However, the highlight of this hole is the green, which was placed at the base of a little bowl. Bunkers were cut naturally into the hill that surrounds the green. A very cool little spot and my favorite green complex on the course.
#7, Par 4, 391 Yards
The utility tower in the distance is a good safe line off the tee. Favoring the left side is a bit riskier, but provides a slightly easier angle into the hole. The crowned green is an island surrounded by loads of sand that you'll walk right through.
#1, Par 5, 531 Yards
The opening hole at Old Sandwich is a mid-length par five that plays to a wide fairway--ample width is common in most Coore/Crenshaw designs. However, just because you're on the fairway, doesn't mean you're in a good spot. At the first, veering too far to the left can leave a poor angle for the second shot, which might even be blocked by trees. On the left side of the hole, bunker are cut naturally into the hill. With a good drive, this green can be reachable in two with plenty of room to run the ball up to the green and no bunkers in the way.
#2, Par 4, 387 Yards
The centerline bunkers are the trick to the second hole. Four of them lay in view off the tee, in the form of a "Principal's Nose" feature. Beyond that cluster, and to the right, lays one last pot bunker. Avoid them, and you have a fairly easy shot into an elevated green and doglegs a touch to the right.
#9, Par 3, 131 Yards
Here is the short par three. As I said above, Coore and Crenshaw always put ample variety in the length of their holes, and they always seem to have a short par three in each course. It's usually no more than a little wedge shot, but it is generally a demanding shot, where if you miss the target, you're punished quite severely. The contour of the green presents the majority of the challenge on this one, with a steep roll-off on the back portion.
#10, Par 5, 516 Yards
Heading to the inward nine, we start off with a short par five that plays downhill. A "hell's half acre" bunker concept lays at the end of the driving area. On the second shot, if you're not in a position to go for it, it's best to lay short of the two bunkers right in the layup zone. If you're going for it in two, the green is best hit with a left-to-right shot that avoids the two bunkers on the front-right and right sides of the green.
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#14, Par 4, 351 Yards
The 14th hole starts off in the little social area that I spoke of earlier. The landing area is semi-blind and the hole bends to the right a bit. There are no hazards off the tee, but don't stray too far to the right or your second shot might be blocked by trees. The approach to the green is obstructed by three bunkers that lay right, left, and center of the front portion of the green. Getting on the green requires a precise shot. Make sure you bring enough club, because anything short is probably in a bunker.
#12, Par 4, 408 Yards
Bending slightly to the left, all of the trouble on the twelfth is on the inside of the dogleg. A cluster of three bunkers lay in the inside elbow of the dogleg and two bunkers lay short and left of the green. If you keep it on the outside half of the dogleg (the right side) you'll play the hole a touch longer in length, but you'll stay out of trouble and have a better change to avoid a bogey.
#8, Par 4, 379 Yards
The eighth tee is on a cool piece of the property where three greens and three tee boxes all converge in close proximity. The 17th green is visible on the right side of the first picture below. I could see this being a really fun social scene during club events. The eighth bends to the right and is the only hole on the course without a single bunker. At this point in the round, we took advantage of a perk at Old Sandwich. There are no snack bars or refreshment stands on the course and you don't return to the clubhouse until you're finished--however, our caddy told us that if there was anything we wanted, he would make a call to the clubhouse, and they would bring it out. So, when we were on the 7th hole, we made the call for provisions, and on the eighth tee, a cooler arrived, with four adult beverages for our twosome. This was the only time we took advantage of this delivery system; it was nice to have it there whenever you want it.
#3, Par 4, 409 Yards
This is one of the holes where the Back Tees would have potentially been a bit much--they extend to 450 yards. The hole is fairly straight with fairway bunkers that will catch shots missed to the right. From the fairway, the ideal shot is a draw into the green with bunkers on the left side.
#5, Par 4, 336 Yards
I will never criticize Coore and Crenshaw for lack of variety. Their courses always exhibit long and short varieties of each par, with half-par holes throughout as well. The fifth hole is the course's short par four, and it's a good one. A long drive hit on the right angle will potentially work its way down the natural slope on onto the putting surface. Or, you can take the same line on the drive and hit almost any club out into the fat part of the fairway--however, do that and you'll face a blind pitch/approach to a putting surface that runs away from you. A very good hole.
After the fun shots, we changed out of our shoes and decided to have a quick beer before heading back to Boston. As unaccompanied guests, we were not allowed to sit in the members' grill area, but that wasn't a problem, because the outside patio was a great spot too. We enjoyed our post round refreshments, and packed up to head back to the city.
Old Sandwich is a great spot. The golf presents a variety of challenges, but it's playable enough to be fun every day. We really enjoyed our round and were thrilled we could make it happen. Thanks AM for setting up such a great morning!
After the 19th hole, there is even more more chance for fun, glory, and more bets! The club put a turf mat on the edge of the pond that lays beneath the clubhouse. From there, the hole is to hit a little wedge shot that hits the rock on the far side of the pond. I can't imagine how many failed attempts lay at the bottom of the water. We both gave it a shot, and failed.
So, you're finished with your 18-hole round, but you really want more swings...Old Sandwich gives you options. Just to the left of the 18th green, there is a little par three that can settle bets, or just give you an extra hole to play. It's a small green with six bunkers surrounding it. We had to walk that way, anyway, so why not!
#6, Par 5, 534 Yards
The second par five on the first nine goes uphill to a blind landing area. The fairway rolls from left to right, so a drive on the left half is the appropriate play--the fairway bunker on the left is a good line to aim over. From there, the key on the second shot (if you're laying up) if to avoid the little bunker in the middle of the fairway. Keep it out of the sand, and this is a fairly easy hole.
#18, Par 4, 458 Yards
Old Sandwich finishes with a "half-par" hole. This one is a par 4.5 in my opinion. Maybe I think that because our caddy had us play from the tips (498 yards) to get the full experience! After clearing the hill, the hole bends a bit to the right and goes downhill.