Course Spotlight

Public Golf in the Northeast: Fun Places to Play

By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
Published on
A view from the 18th hole of Bethpage State Park Black Course in Farmingdale, New York. (Photo by Gary Kellner/PGA of America)

A view from the 18th hole of Bethpage State Park Black Course in Farmingdale, New York. (Photo by Gary Kellner/PGA of America)

Everyone knows about the great golf in places like Florida, Texas, Arizona and Southern California. But despite its abbreviated golf season, the Northeast has some of the best public layouts in the country. As the summer winds down in many places in the country, here’s a list of some of the top public golf courses in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New England that you'll want to check out:
Keney Park Golf Course, Hartford, Connecticut - With its first nine holes designed by Devereux Emmet and opened in 1927, Keney Park Golf Course is now 18 holes of championship golf built to be enjoyed by the public golfers of all skill sets. Site of the 2019 Girl's Junior PGA Championship, Keney Park features a unique layout, four tees from which golfers can choose to play and an extensive practice area with a new driving range, rebuilt practice green and 5,000 square foot short game area.   
Cape Arundel Golf Club, Kennebunkport, Maine - When it was founded in 1896, Cape Arundel Golf Club was one of only 74 golf clubs in the United States. If golf history is your thing, this course is for you with its historic past and iconic layout. Former U.S. and British Amateur Champion, Walter J. Travis, designed every hole - another reason to put Cape Arundel Golf Club on your list of places to play someday. 
Cape Cod National Golf Club, Brewster, Massachusetts - Technically not open to the public, Cape Cod National Golf Club is accessible when staying at Wequassett Resort. A true test built in an unbelievable setting, Cape Cod is a must play for any player. Expansive practice facilities may be uncommon on Cape Cod, but Cape Cod National has a stellar driving range, brand new short game area with room for shots up to 70 yards and several practice putting greens to hone what many consider the most important aspect of the game. 
New Hampshire:
Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire - The legendary Donald Ross completed the design of the Mount Washington course way back in 1915. At over 7,000 yards from the tips, the Mount Washington course offers amazing views of the Presidential Mountain Range and challenging play on the course. After decades of play, the course was restored to Mr. Ross’s original design in 2008. Mount Washington has been considered the best course you can play in the Granite State since 2009, a storied streak of stellar public golf. 
New Jersey:
Crystal Springs Resort (Ballyowen) - Escape to Ireland or Scotland without leaving the state of New Jersey with Ballyowen's links-style layout. Opened in 1998, Crystal Springs Resort is a well-known destination for golfers throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Crystal Springs boasts countless stellar vistas, pristine course conditions and five other courses at the resort — just in case you’re looking to play more than 18.
New York:
Bethpage Black Course, Farmingdale - Truly an exceptional design and an experience all golfers should have at least once, Bethpage Black is a challenging 18 holes for even the best players out there. The conditions are Ryder Cup worthy daily, and golfers actually sleep overnight in the parking lot with hopes of getting a tee time in the morning. This Long Island legend hosted the 2019 PGA Championship and is slated to welcome the best golfers from the U.S. and Europe for the 2025 Ryder Cup so play where history is made.
Nemacolin (Mystic Rock), Farmington, PA - Mystic Rock Golf Course is a Pete Dye design that stands atop the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. With a course rating of 77, Mystic Rock's innovative layout will pose a suitable challenge to the most skilled of players. Once the home of the PGA Tour’s 84 Lumber Classic, Mystic Rock's impeccable design is supported by its perfect conditions. This is a can’t miss when in western Pennsylvania.
Rhode Island:
Newport National, Newport, RI - With many polls saying that this is the best course in New England, it’s a must add to your Northeast golf bucket list. Newport National features views of the ocean, undulating fairways and bunkers that always seem to get in the way will have your blood boiling and lips smiling at the same time. Newport National plays over 7,200 yards from the tips, so make sure you have what it takes to tee it up from the Black tees - there are three other options, after all. 
Rutland Country Club, Rutland, VT - Founded in 1901, Rutland Country Club welcomes public golfers and has members who are proud to call the club home. Tipped out at less than 6,200 yards, Rutland Country Club guarantees a pleasurable experience while hitting all the clubs in your golf bag. Rutland boasts wonderful food options, fantastic golf shop and a rich history — come play the course that was good enough for Ted Williams, Bob Rotella and Keegan Bradley of the PGA Tour.