The North Shore is a real swinging community. No wonder, then, that we have some of the best and most beautiful golf courses in the world. So when it came time to pick “the best of the best,” we went to the pros Â– The golf pros, that is.
Here, then, is their tally of the 18 best golf holes in the region.
Steve Carter – Golf Pro at Ipswich Golf Club, Ipswich
As Ipswich won our “Best of” award for “best golf course,” we gave Steve the honor of picking the first “best hole.”
“The best hole has got to be number 5,” Steve says confidently. “It’s our signature hole.”
Though only 200 yards long, Steve says, this hole is “one of the toughest par 3’s anywhere.”
As the green is surrounded by water and “severely bunkered,” a well-placed shot can lead to a birdie, but a not-so-well-placed shot can either “get wet” or end up in the dirt.
“We pull about 10,000 balls out of the water in front of the green every year,” Steve says. “That’s a true statement!”
Burton Page Â– Manager of Cedar Glen Golf Course, Saugus
“My favorite hole is probably our third hole,” says Page of the 235-yard jewel. “It is probably one of the best par 3’s around.”
As the green is elevated, Page says, you have to judge your shot just right lest your ball roll down or even careen off the side of the rise.
“It looks like a very easy hole,” he suggests, “but you have to hit it perfectly to get it there.”
Peter Farley Â– Golf Pro at North Andover Country Club, North Andover
Peter chose NACC’s hole number 3, which he calls “a classic par 4” of 325 yards.
“Length is not important,” Farley suggested. Given its blind tee shot, with severe mounding left and tree line right, the player must “carry a tee shot” 200 to 210 yards to the flat part of the fairway and then launch “an extremely accurate” second shot 115 to 125 yards to a green slanted back to front with bunkers left and right.
“Over this green is a sure double bogey,” Farley warns.
Brian McHugh Â– Superintendent at Wenham Country Club, Wenham
Though he thinks the 12th hole at Wenham is “our most picturesque,” Brian’s favorite was number 7.
“The 153-yard par 3 allows the player to go for the pin or play it safe by hitting the approach and running the ball up to the hole,” Brian explained. Suggesting that this choice be made according to the placement of the pin, Brian also warned players not to be fooled by its shortness, as a recently renovated bunker in front of the green “presents a challenge to anyone who has the misfortune of landing in it.”
John O’Connor Â– Golf Pro at Far Corner Golf Club, Boxford
“I’ve got to think from the perspective of a challenging hole, it’s our number 7,” says John of the par 3 that usually sets up at around 180 to 200 yards.
Though the hole is lined with beautiful trees and the green large and “very hittable,” a number of obstacles make it very challenging.
“There’s water surrounding three-quarters of the green and a large pine tree that guards the left side of the fairway,” John describes, adding that the elevated green means that even a well-placed shot can “roll back into the water or the rough.”
Chris Carter Â– Head Golf Pro at Hillview Golf Course, North Reading
“How about our eighth hole?” asks Chris, suggesting the 539-yard par 5.
Though Chris says that this tree-lined hole is “definitely a three-shot” for average golfers, he adds that it all depends on how they get through the valley off the tee.
“That can make or break a golfer,” he says.
And though the fall foliage makes for picturesque play, Carter says the true beauty of this hole is the challenge. Depending on how long you drive and how you play through the valley, either you can get “a good look at the green” or you can get into “a lot of trouble.”
Michael Bemis Â– Director of Golf at Renaissance Golf Club, Haverhill
“I’d have to go with hole number 8,” Michael says of the double-turn 489-yard par 4 that is blessed with bunkers down the entire left side and water to the left of that.
“Them there is a beautiful turn,” Michael says of the hole known as “Waterloo.”
And though the tee shot is “high risk” and the green “postage stamp” sized, Michael notes that the hole is visually beautiful and offers “spectacular” visuals.
Jean Waters Â– Golf Pro at Essex Country Club, Manchester-by-the-Sea
“I would have to say hole number 11,” says Waters, one of Essex CC’s two golf pros.
With its high rough and “serious undulations,” this 175-yard par 3 is often touted as the most challenging hole on the course.
“The green is very small,” Waters says, “and if you miss it, you’ve got a tough shot.”
Dan Cammarata Â– Director of Golf at The Georgetown Club, Georgetown
Dan cited hole number 12 at Georgetown, “a great par 3” that, at 216 yards, “requires both length and accuracy.”
“It is a beautiful picturesque hole,” Dan says, mentioning the “well-bunkered green nestled in a grove of trees.” In addition to being great on its own, Dan goes so far as to suggest that No. 12 also acts as “a prelude to what I believe are the finest finishing holes you will see.”
George Goich Â– Director of Golf at Turner Hill Golf and Racquet Club, Ipswich
George voted for Turner Hill’s par 5, 568-yard hole 13, which, he claims,Â requires three “quality shots” to make a par or even have a chance at birdie.
After a precise tee shot between the hazard along the entire left side and deep bunkers on the right, George advises an approach shot that reaches past the pot bunker on the way to a “deceiving” green.
“It’s a great hole,” George says, “because it combines beauty and tranquility and requires precision on every shot to make a par.”
Steve Vaughn Â– Golf Pro at Sagamore Spring Golf Club, Lynnfield
Steve also picked lucky 13.
“Is it about 430 yards,” he says of the par 5, “but we can certainly pull that back and make it longer.”
And if the distance is not enough of a challenge, the hole also features a tree-lined dogleg to the right that goes “dramatically downhill.”
“You definitely do not want to go left,” Steve advises. “That’s a no-no.”
With a bogey (or worse) being “a definite reality,” Steve concludes that number 13 is both “the best and also most challenging hole we have here.”
Bill Safrin Â– Golf Pro at Myopia Hunt Club, South Hamilton
Though it was a tough decision (Myopia has a number of holes that have been cited as among “The Top 100 in the country” by Golf Magazine) Bill eventually picked Myopia’s “signature hole,” number 9.
This 136-yard par 3 hole offers a small, narrow green protected by deep bunkers and framed by a beautiful lily pond in front. Before you get there, however, you need to watch out for the trees to the left and rear, and what Bill calls “magnificent” sand bunkers all around the green.
Toby Ahern Â– Superintendent at Ferncroft Country Club, Middleton
Toby chose Ferncroft’s 543-yard par 5 number 18 for his “best of” pick.
“Robert Trent Jones considered this to be one of the best finishing holes he ever created,” Ahern says of the late and legendary golfer and course designer. “Many matches are won and lost on this spectacular hole.”
Note: Toby was gracious enough to suggest Salem Country Club’s 13th and Ipswich’s 13th as other possible chart toppers.
Peter Cronan Â– Clubhouse manager at The Meadow at Peabody
Peter suggested another great finisher Â– the 18th at The Meadow.
“It is a demanding 422-yard par 4,” he says, mentioning a cluster of challenging sand traps and a water hazard about halfway down the fairway. And while long hitters may be able to make it past these obstacles, Peter says that most golfers still end up with around 150 yards left to go once they do so. And even then, they are not out of trouble, as they are then faced with “one of largest greens in the area.”
“It is not uncommon to have 60-plus foot putts,” Peter says. “Five is usually a good score.”
Our readers may not get to spend as much time on the links as the pros, but they, too, can be quite articulate in describing their own favorite holes.
John Lyons Â– North Andover
John’s favorite hole is number 8 at the Rowley Country Club.
“I love how you have to cross over water,” he says of this 475-yard par 5, recalling the pleasure of ringing the bell that lets the next foursome know that it is OK to proceed (after you have spent some time dragging the pond for your ball).
“It’s a difficult hole,” Lyons adds. “No one I know has gotten par on it; only a bogey at best.”
Cato Anderson Â– Concord
Though he is a member of the Concord Country Club, Cato’s choice comes from the Essex Country Club.
“All 18 holes are spectacular,” Cato says of the worth-the-drive course, “but my favorite is 15.”
While he admits that the initial drive is “not overly challenging,” Cato notes that “it must find the fairway.” Once they get past the blockages on the right and the penal rough on the left, Cato advises that duffers be wary of the “deceivingly tricky” green. However, he adds, once you get there, “you are offered one of the best views on the course, looking at one of the most dramatic clubhouses in the state.”
Bob Donovan Â– Wenham
Bob nominated hole number 4 at Cape Ann.
“The view is so spectacular that it makes you glad that you took up the sport,” he says of the 462-yard par 5, “even after you’ve triple-bogeyed the first three holes.”
Rich Renehan Â–Manchester-by-the-Sea
Extolling the “sweeping views of rivers through marshland heading out to the ocean,” Rich also chose the fourth hole at Cape Ann Golf Course in Essex. Though listed as a par 5, Rich says that the hole is “birdie material” as long as you don’t hook from the high tee.
“I hit the pin from 150 one early morn,” he claims, “but no one was watching.”
Such is the beauty of golf!