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Ran Morrissett

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For the devoted among us, golf is a passionate experience with one result being that a deep affection often develops between a course and its regular players. How proudly one describes his local course can make others want to see it or if praised officiously put people off. Personally, I try to avoid it altogether, rarely broaching the two courses I have played the most in the past five years (the mighty Royal & Ancient Southern Pines and Cabot Links). Who wants to hear it?! It's like bragging about your children: best to cajole others to do so. 8)
 
Having said that, I didn't read the tea leaves very well over a year ago when discussing the George Wright Golf Course with Cob Carlson during the creation of his 2 hour film, Donald Ross: Discovering the Legend (www.donaldrossfilm.com). At some point, he told me that he was a past champ there - and I tuned out. My bad! While threads in this Discussion Group had occasionally suggested a heart-warming tale of restoration of one of Ross's most manufactured courses, I had no idea of the treat I was in store for on a rainy 44 degree day last month when Cob chaperoned me around the grounds of his beloved course.
 
Alas, raindrops ruined 1/3 of the photos. No flattering light or half-light was present but this rugged course doesn't need such assistance to 'shine' through. To that point, Joe Andriole, semi-literate and therefore the editor of all GCA course profiles, has been to more world-class courses, more often, in different seasons than anyone I know. After working on this piece he indicated that it joins the course in Nepal as those that he would most want to see for the first time. High praise indeed!  Indeed, Cob was right, despite being a past club champ. ;) ;D
 
Cob is now making available the 2nd edition of his Ross DVD and I am going to watch it and search for more playing gems. Two snippets from it are including in this profile, one with Head Professional Scott Allen and the other with Green Keeper Len Curtin.  These are two of the great guys in the game who combined with the City's unflinching support spearheaded the revival of one of Ross's grandest achievements.
 
By all accounts George Wright wasn't even a good municipal course twenty years ago when the conditions of the playing surfaces were so poor. Now, it's just a great course. Period. See if you agree!

Best
« Last Edit: December 24, 2015, 08:17:46 PM by Ran Morrissett »

PCCraig

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Great stuff, Ran. I haven't been to George Wright in close to 10 years, but it looks drastically improved from a conditioning standpoint. As great as many of your profiles are, I especially enjoy your profiles that analyze these types of under-the-radar courses.
H.P.S.

Guy Nicholson

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Super profile, and I think the photos actually benefit from the moody weather. Makes me want to play and then go drink coffee.  :)

MCirba

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This is wonderful.  As perhaps the only person in history who played Myopia Hunt in the morning and George Wright in the afternoon while staying in the Super 8 Hotel on Brockton, I always felt a bit unsure recommending the municipal course so highly to would-be Boston visitors.  No longer!
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

Dan Ackerberg

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Great profile.  Definitely looks in better shape than 20 years ago.   But there was always something very beautiful in the combination of the natural (or blasted?) granite and the manmade stone walls traversing the course.   The 6th is my favorite hole - the granite outcroppings  and the stone wall on the left, and the saddle green location.

Sam Krume

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Now that's a proper green fee.....

David Federman

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I did play this course twenty years ago a few times when I lived in Brookline for a year - it did not look anything like the way it looks now. It had the feel of a great old course - but the conditions were poor. For those of us in the Philly area, it is a good picture of what a renovated Cobbs could be. 

MCirba

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David Federman,

Keep your fingers and toes crossed on that front.
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

Michael Moore

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George Wright? Courses by country? I'll bite . . .

My memories of this course could not be more fond. I remember my first trip like it was yesterday left Portland super early on a Christmas Eve morning with my future wife and a friend, balatas staying warm on the dashboard all the way, dropped Kate off in Newton, and proceeded to get very lost in Hyde Park, as I am sure many do. The parking lot was full, and my enduring all-time memory of George Wright is emerging from it, gazing upon the clubhouse for the first time, and immediately exploring the ballroom and every other corner that was not locked down. Ran, I am loathe to tell you how to do your job, but please get a photo of this insane edifice into the tour, because I am fairly certain that it is the mother of all municipal clubhouses.

After joining up with the fourth group in line, we settled in to observe the proceedings. A group wearing various Teamsters windbreakers had the honors. The first guy teed off, then the next, then the next. Then a cart from eighteen drove in front of the tee while the last guy was at address, causing almost everyone in line to join into a very loud and profane torrent of abuse. Merry Christmas!

The next time I played with a veritable Groundskeeper Willie who screamed "keep swingin' laddie!!" while I fumbled around in a bunker, and proclaimed that "these frrrront pins arrre a bitch!!" as his ball bounded past them. And then there was the time that Bradford Tufts and I played with a couple of locals straight out of Good Will Hunting, whose story about a guy who saved an old lady from choking at a Menino rally and was rewarded with a cushy union post in the administration through which he got his hands on some Big Dig graft took an entire two holes to recount.

And so, sprinkled right on top of the fantastic golf course, the scene and the people at George Wright are what keep me coming back. But I must say that Bradford tells me that William J. Devine down the road makes this place look like Bushwood, and I am very curious.
Metaphor is social and shares the table with the objects it intertwines and the attitudes it reconciles. Opinion, like the Michelin inspector, dines alone. - Adam Gopnik, The Table Comes First

Ronald Montesano

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Bethpage aside, and knowing what I know about Robert T. Lynch (formerly Putterham Meadows), there seem to be more upper-level options in Boston/Brookline for municipal golf (which are way more than Buffalo has) than most major city-areas offer. I include the Brookline course only as it appears closer to Devine than Wright, despite being located in the suburb. For those who have played the Cleveland metroparks courses, how do those Ohio courses compare with Boston's offerings?
Maybe for 2022
~Eden Valley
~Hillview
~Pinehurst (NY)
~Kis 'N Greens
~Pine Meadows
~18 Mile Creek
~Greenwood
~Shawnee
~Leroy
~

Amol Yajnik

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Re: George Wright Golf Course profile is now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2015, 10:13:23 PM »
Bethpage aside, and knowing what I know about Robert T. Lynch (formerly Putterham Meadows), there seem to be more upper-level options in Boston/Brookline for municipal golf (which are way more than Buffalo has) than most major city-areas offer. I include the Brookline course only as it appears closer to Devine than Wright, despite being located in the suburb. For those who have played the Cleveland metroparks courses, how do those Ohio courses compare with Boston's offerings?


"Upper level" is really stretching it when you're talking about the Brookline muni (aka Robert T. Lynch).  The City of Boston has done a much better job in the past few years of making improvements to George Wright and Franklin Park, and those 2 courses currently have conditions that are much better than the Brookline muni.  To put it another way: I live in Brookline, and routinely drive by the course closer to my home to get to either George Wright and Franklin Park.


I was very pleasantly surprised to see George Wright profiled on this site in the same manner as some of the greatest courses in the world.  It's the course that I play more than any other here in the Boston area, and it just keeps getting better every year.  It's "only" 6500 yards from the tips but plays as a par 70, and I think that it plays much tougher than the slope/rating that it carries from the tips.  5 is my nemesis hole on that course, the tee shot isn't all that easy (especially for someone that plays a draw like me), then a 200 yard downhill shot on the second shot is always a tough one.  9 and 10 are 2 long par 4's that are likely the 2 toughest back-to-back par 4's in the area.  The review is correct in saying that 12 is a polarizing hole; I tend to dislike it because I feel like it's too much of a "hit and hope" hole in that balls tend to get caught up in high rough on the hills at both sides of the fairway, so the driving zone effectively plays much narrower than it looks.  Also not pictured in the thread is the work that has been done to the green area on 15, which now has enlarged the green on the left side and adding a chipping area on that side, along with completely redoing the tee boxes on 16 and adding a little length to that hole.  15 is the only par 5 on the back side, and enlarging the green along with the tree removal that was done actually makes it more inviting to go for the green in 2, aka more fun! 3 is the other par 5 on the golf course, but the last half of the hole play significantly uphill, it's a 3 shot hole unless you can drive it close to 300 yards.


The majority of members on this site know about all of the tremendous private courses that are in the Boston area, but for a person that doesn't get to sample that part of the golfing world, George Wright is a great public option around here.  It's really cool to have seen the improvements made in the past few years, and I can't wait to see what they do in preparation for the Mass Amateur in 2018.

Cliff Hamm

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Re: George Wright Golf Course profile is now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2015, 03:57:47 PM »

Cliff Hamm

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Re: George Wright Golf Course profile is now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2015, 04:03:48 PM »
Back of clubhouse from the 9th fairway:



Mark McKeever

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Re: George Wright Golf Course profile is now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2015, 11:32:31 AM »
So glad to see this course profiled.  I can't get enough of GW!
Best MGA showers - Bayonne

"Dude, he's a total d***"

Tom_Doak

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Re: George Wright Golf Course profile is now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2015, 12:19:07 PM »
Ran:


I'm so happy you got to see George Wright in time to include it in The Confidential Guide.


I am going back through the manuscript now to work on the Gazetteer, and I'm a bit shocked just what a high percentage of the courses in this volume are private clubs.  There aren't nearly as many good "resort" courses in northeast and midwest and Canada, percentage-wise, as there are in the southern half of the country.  I guess that's partly because the private-club members in the north help subsidize the latter, more than the former.

Brad Tufts

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Re: George Wright Golf Course profile is now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2015, 04:06:23 PM »
As usual, Mr. Moore has outdone himself in capturing the oft-public golf experience in Boston.

I was flabbergasted and excited when I saw GW fully profiled, as I considered it my home-away-from-home course while living in Brookline and South Boston from 2005-2012 (Tedesco is 18 miles north of Southie, GW is about 5 miles SW).  I've played GW roughly 25 times, in bad times and good, since about 2000.  I've never teed it with Cob at GW, but that needs to be remedied soon...as we already spend too much time together at various MGA events.

As for the "Upper level" idea of Boston munis, I would argue that RonMon is accurate.  Many cities have a good rota of munis within 5-10-15 miles of the city center, but there is often one flagship course with pedigree, leaving several other bastardized layouts to fight for the city funding scraps that fall off the showcase course's table.

Within 20 miles of Boston, with a northerly bent, I submit, in order of quality:

GW...well documented, today's crown jewel to be sure.  36 holes at GW and FP below would be a great day, and you probably would get more history and Boston experience out of it then TCC/Charles River or Winchester/Brae Burn, etc.

Franklin Park....the historical crown jewel, the 2nd oldest public course (Van Cordtland) in the US.  Willie Campbell (original designer and pro), Georgina Campbell (Willie's wife and America's first female professional), Donald Ross (redesign architect), Bobby Jones (practiced here while at Harvard Law), Dedicated locals (who mowed holes in the morning and played in the afternoon when the course was closed in the 70s), and Tiger Woods (first tee clinic in the early 90s) have all played a part in its history.  It's finally getting some city $ love in recent years, and it's as fun as ever.  6000y par 70, maybe $40 to play...TOTALLY recommend for a number of reasons.

South Shore...Hingham, MA...a Stiles course formerly private that is slowly undergoing restoration.  This course is REALLY good, and only getting better.  Not a tough test, there are some great holes out there with wild undulation rivaling any course in New England for movement and fairness.  No better three hole stretch on any of these courses listed than #16 with its wonderful punchbowl green, #17 uphill long par three with the "Palmer tee" at 235 for the adventurous, and the 475y par 5 finisher with a stream fronting the green, and 5 feet of slope from back to front.  Kudos for a classic Boston feature at #1, the 300y semi-blind opener with no place to lay up!

Gannon Muni....Lynn, MA is home to another great WPA clubhouse (not GW, but really neat as well) and Wayne Stiles  layout.  The course is home to some HUGE old trees, and fun, quirky holes are the norm.  6300y par 70, this course includes drivable par fours (2/6), massive elevation change (3/4/11/12/14), a completely blind par 3 of 230 (9), a wild short par four with 4-5 options on how to play (10), a C-shaped par four with incredibly playable angles (17), and a Highlands Links-esque 590y finisher!  A real hidden gem, and if they lost about 3000 trees, we'd be talking George Wright quality.

Beverly Golf & Tennis...A formerly private club built by United Shoe Machinery Company, now run by the city of Beverly.  Another Stiles course in the league with Gannon above, with fewer trees.  More crazy quirky holes...long par fours with tiny greens (1/2), the most uphill par three I have ever seen with a 20 ft-tall flagstick (3), a 245y par three backed by the clubhouse (11), and the "wedding cake hole" (15), a drop shot par three played to a built-up green surrounded by bunkers.  Just fun, cheap stuff with a pedigree!

Ponkapoag....long the runt of the litter, it has been recently refurbished, and I look forward to taking a look in the Spring.  2 courses, 18 Ross holes split between the two, with 9 of these closed for the past several years due to drainage problems.  As far as I see it, they have fixed the water issues, and Silva's team has put it back together.  Didn't get the Bethpage treatment and a US Open like the long-held rumor, but for locals, this will be just as good!

Olde Salem Greens....Stiles 9-holer in Salem, MA with incredible variety.  3 short par fours, a long, two-level angled par five, two par threes 250y blind downhill, and 145 semi-blind uphill.  I have a soft spot as we practiced here in HS, and it's the closest public golf to my house (2 miles?)

Brookline GC...the former Putterham Meadows has notoriety as the parking lot for big TCC events, and the course borders TCC members #11 (composite #9).  This is primarily Wayne Stiles, and for the most part the course suffers from uninteresting land, back and forth through a low-lying area criss-crossed by drainage ditches likely engineered to turn former wetland into a golf course.  There is some fun undulation and rocky land nearest the clubhouse, but visitors tend to observe the greenest and best-looking holes right next to the clubhouse, and the shabbier more boring stuff visible only after you paid...

Sandy Burr...NW of Boston in Wayland...this is a Ross mail-in with a few noteworthy holes.  The course borders a marsh so there is some fun interaction with the cattails along the edges, and the uphill 295y 9th is a real treat.  Not on the level of any of the others above...maybe a tick better than Newton Comm, on the level of Brookline.

Newton Commonwealth....and old private Ross over near BC that sold several holes in the 1960s and today's public 18 plays about 5500 par 70.  A bandbox to be sure, there are a couple 265y par fours, and #18 plays downhill 270 with a stream fronting the green with a sign on the tee that prohibits going for the green...the supremely confident tees up a driver and hopes nobody is looking!  It's so far downhill that they used to run a rope tow on the 18th and operate a ski hill several decades ago.  There are definitely a few fun holes here, and it's worth a play for the Ross mail-in archeologist.

There are others, of course, but I have only included those that have the architectural pedigree.  Widow's Walk in Hingham has its fans, but Hurdzan was heavily neutered by environmental concerns, causing a result that is short and claustrophobic.  Leo J. Martin is another (I have not played) that has a long history and a few devotees, but I have heard that it's only so-so.  Mt. Hood in Melrose is not terrible, and has benefited from some recent work, but it's cramped and certainly behind the courses above.  Braintree muni has a few good holes, but most are flat and back and forth, suffering from the same "cool holes near the clubhouse" syndrome as Brookline.  Also noteworthy at Braintree is the 2-week Canada Goose-hunting season in November, but you might get more meat off of some of the deer flies drilling into your head while playing there in summer...

Questions?
« Last Edit: December 13, 2015, 04:08:42 PM by Brad Tufts »
So I jump ship in Hong Kong....

PPallotta

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Re: George Wright Golf Course profile is now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2015, 07:26:00 PM »
Thanks, Ran, gents.

Brings memories back not of George Wright, but of a few older "north east" courses I've played over the years.

I hope to goodness no one goes in there to pitch the notion of getting rid of 3000 trees - you know, like all the best clubs are doing these days. They took some out around the greens, and that's enough it seems to me (regardless of the fact that when Mr Ross saw it the site was "barren").

Peter
« Last Edit: December 13, 2015, 07:30:41 PM by Peter Pallotta »

Jay Flemma

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Re: George Wright Golf Course profile is now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2015, 07:42:10 AM »
I played there last summer and had a great time.  We played golf in the afternoon, and saw Foo Fighters at Fenway Park that evening, pretty cool way to spend a summer day in Boston.  Terrific routing and terrain!
Mackenzie, MacRayBanks, Maxwell, Doak, Dye, Strantz. @JayGolfUSA, GNN Radio Host of Jay's Plays www.cybergolf.com/writerscorner

Amol Yajnik

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Re: George Wright Golf Course profile is now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #18 on: December 15, 2015, 09:40:20 AM »
Thanks, Ran, gents.

Brings memories back not of George Wright, but of a few older "north east" courses I've played over the years.

I hope to goodness no one goes in there to pitch the notion of getting rid of 3000 trees - you know, like all the best clubs are doing these days. They took some out around the greens, and that's enough it seems to me (regardless of the fact that when Mr Ross saw it the site was "barren").

Peter


There are a few places on the course that would benefit from some trees being removed, but mainly just to let more sun get to the greens and tees.  They removed the trees around the 14th tee which helped significantly in that regard.


On another note: the prices for the course that are pictured in the review thread have not changed for a number of years.  Selfishly, I hope it stays that way, even with the course getting more publicity recently.

Jim_Kennedy

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Re: George Wright Golf Course profile is now posted under Courses by Country
« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2015, 07:04:58 PM »
George Wright

 
« Last Edit: December 17, 2015, 03:27:18 PM by Jim_Kennedy »
"I never beat a well man in my life" - Harry Vardon

Cliff Hamm

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Went to see Spotlight, highly recommended.  Early in the film there was a scene from a golf course.  I was quite proud of my wife when she whispered, "Is that George Wright?".  Indeed it sure seemed to be and I believe the 12th hole.  Anyone collaborate this or am I incorrect?

Cob Carlson

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The golf course scene in "Spotlight" was not filmed on the 12th at George Wright GC. Our Head Pro confirmed this. Trying to unearth where the location was but striking out so far. A good portion of the film was actually shot in Canada.

http://golfclubatlas.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/spotlight.jpg

Cliff Hamm

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Thanks for the response.  So much for my wife's knowledge of GCA not to mention mine :)

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