Saturday, February 28, 2009

3. Brookline Golf Club at Putterham

Location: Brookline (0:15 SW of Boston / 2:16 east of Pittsfield).
Architects: Wayne Stiles and John Van Kleek, 1931.
Yardage: 6317 (blue) / 5958 (white) / 4904 (gold).
Weekend Rates: $38 Brookline res., $49 non-resident. Carts + $19.
Best Deal: $23 resident, $26 non-resident (M-Th, twilight).

One way to play the 9th hole at Putterham...

Brookline Golf Club, previously known as Putterham Meadows, is a busy 18-hole public course that shares a border with The Country Club, venerable site of numerous national championships. In fact, Brookline Golf Club became a possibility only after The Country Club agreed to swap some of its unused flat acreage with the Town of Brookline, who traded land unsuitable to build golf holes upon. However benevolent the swap may have seemed, and have no doubt it was necessary for all 18 holes of Brookline GC to be built, The Country Club demanded an 8-foot high barbed wire fence be built along the border between the new town land and club property! The differences between Brookline GC and The Country Club persist to this day, with an obvious asymmetry in their public versus private nature, but perhaps a more important one in the variance of the land they lie upon despite being next-door neighbors.

Brookline's fairways at bottom left; TCC's holes and ponds adjoining upper right.

Before it was a golf course, Brookline GC was an area known to residents as "Putterham Meadows," an area full of wildlife, but swampy and covered in peat. The swampland, when combined with The Country Club's gift of more flatlands, is simply not exciting terrain for golf. A couple big hills punctuate the 2-dimensional space, which make for a few interesting shots interspersed throughout the round. My friend Danny made as close to a hole in one as I've ever seen on the sharply downhill 175-yard 3rd hole, somehow trickling his ball to finish a few inches directly behind the hole! Other than the merits of the dropping 3rd, the approaches to the par four 4th, 7th, and 16th greens catch the golfer's attention as they are all appealing short irons to greens situated on plateaus. The best hole on the course is probably the 12th, a par three measuring a mere 132 yards, but to an intimidating target. The green is tucked in a dell between two fronting hazards and an imposing granite wall just feet off the back of the putting surface. The target is much larger than it appears, but the visuals from the tee may evoke a less than confident swing!

Peering over the hillock to the 9th's landing area

While Stiles and Van Kleek are talented architects, it seems to me they didn't put enough effort in to spice up the flattish holes of Brookline GC. Many holes play parallel to each other with unimaginative bunkering and low-lying green complexes, and the course condition suffers from the lack of earth movement in the fairways and resulting poor drainage. While the course boasts a set of solid par threes and the aforementioned excellent short par four greensites, there are few appealing long holes and thus not much balance in the layout.

Course Rating: 4 stars out of 10

Bang for your $26 Bucks: 5 stars out of 10

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