Course Review: Old Sandwich Golf Club – June 9, 2023
I had the opportunity to play Old Sandwich Golf Club in early June. Old Sandwich, in Plymouth, Massachusetts, is generally neck and neck with The Country Club in Brookline in consideration as the best golf course in Massachusetts.
In the Golf Digest annual rankings, Old Sandwich is currently ranked the 63rd Best Course in the country. It has never been outside of the top 100 since opening in 2005.
Old Sandwich is about 78 miles from my house in Rhode Island. In retrospect, if need be, I would have walked to this course, with my staff bag on my back, to have the opportunity to play it.
The course – one of the best Coore-Crenshaw designs anywhere, has an array of pines, scrubs, oaks, gnarly bunkers, chocolate drop mounds, wavy fescue and briar bushes.
It is favorably compared to Baltusrol, Pine Valley and Pinehurst No. 2.
As I was driving to the course, my host, whose jet was delayed and he was flying back to Massachusetts that morning, text me that he was going to be just on time and to also let me know my name was recorded at security. The drive on Old Sandwich Road is a long one and I finally arrived at the gate and, as noted, I was on the list and allowed in.
I checked in at the bag drop where they provide valet. I reached into my wallet for a ten dollar bill but had only $20’s. I didn’t want to start on a bad foot and ask for change so I gave the valet a $20. My inability to properly plan for valet service was to his benefit. Since everything else was covered, golf greens fees, carts, drinks and lunch, – and the caddy, my direct cost to attend this spectacular event was $20 and gas money ~ so far, a pretty good deal.
I went into the very regal locker room to change into my golf shoes. I was anxious because I knew my host was a good player and we would be playing from the +/- 6,700 yard tees and I have not been playing well as of late.
I summarily dropped my wallet into the toilet ~ which, if I was to do so, today was a good time since I wouldn’t need any more money this day.
I went back to the bag drop to be taken to the practice facility. I met one of our caddies, Jimbo. Jimbo and I spoke on the range and he told be about the course and its short but very rich history. I understand that the course was initially nothing but pine trees and very little land was moved to create the course. The course makes its own sand and counts Ian Baker-Finch and Brad Faxon among its members.
I had an excellent warm up that (finally) relaxed me. My foursome went to the first tee.
When you head to the 1st tee at Old Sandwich, there is a walking path that the players take and the caddies take the golf carts around on the carts paths. Old Sandwich is clearly designed to be intimidating off the tee but the fairways are not particularly tight.
Having said that, being on the wrong side of the fairway will leave you blocked out to a direct shot to the green so, in effect, the fairways are much narrower ~ pure genius.
I hit my first tee shot straight and long and was pleased. I don’t have enough words or ink to express my pleasure that I had a great driving day. Pretty much every tee shot features a forced carry and an off day on the tee will be the round from hell.
I was warned ahead of time to listen to the caddies because every putt breaks more than you expect.
I was delighted to come home with an 83. Without the solid driving, I could easily see this score as 103. I took full advantage of having caddies and walked the entire course.
The caddies drove the carts and I walked directly to my ball and that is exactly how I wanted it.
After the round, we observed the course tradition of hitting one more shot off a mat at a rock over water 138 yards away. When in Rome, do as the Romans. I came reasonably close to hitting the rock but hitting it or not was not going to make me feel better about my round. Of course, I could have made more putts, but I was extremely pleased with my score.
We had lunch afterwards in the dining room. I can vouch for the terrific food and top notch wine but I cannot comment on the relative value as the menu had no prices.
Whether it is drinking a top bottle of wine or playing a superb golf course, I don’t always recognize greatness. However, even I can appreciate the vast greatness of Old Sandwich Golf Club.