The northeastern United States is the cradle of American civilization. The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in 1620. Millions of immigrants who would forge our great country entered it through New York's Ellis Island. The northeast has big cities, stunning coastline and majestic mountains.
It also has some of America's finest golf - municipal, daily-fee, resort and private. Whether you're looking to escape the summer heat where you live (I know I enjoyed a near month-long sabbatical in Connecticut in June), at the beach or in the mountains, or do some autumn leaf-peeping, these 10 northeastern United States golf destinations - New England plus New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania - will suit you.
Have you ever wondered where the golf term "birdie" came from? If you play the classic, Tom Doak-renovated Atlantic City Country Club, you'll learn all about it, and you'll also learn that "eagle" originated there, too. Other South Jersey golf options include the Bay and Pines courses at Seaview Resort; Twisted Dune Golf Club and Ballamor in Egg Harbor Township; and Union League National Golf Club, formerly known as Sand Barrens, in Swainton.
Beantown has storied professional sports, the youthful energy that comes from having literally dozens of colleges and universities nearby and a good amount of golf. Granite Links' 27 holes overlook the city, and Boston Muni George Wright Golf Course is a phenomenal turnaround story, going from eyesore a few years ago to co-host of the Massachusetts Amateur just last month. A little farther out but still convenient to the city are courses like The International Golf Club's Oaks Course in Bolton, Butter Brook Golf Club in Westford and Red Tail Golf Club in Devens.
Maine is New England's largest state, but also its most mysterious. Its scenic diversity - from mountain peaks to craggy shoreline - and spread-out nature make it hard to pin down. Calling the wilderness-filled center of the state a singular destination can be a little misleading, but there are three solid places to play golf here: Sunday River Golf Club in Newry, Sugarloaf Mountain in Carrabassett Valley and Belgrade Lakes Golf Club in Belgrade. The first two of these are attached to resorts and the third is one of New England's top daily-fee courses. Belgrade Lakes doesn't have directly attached accommodations, but the college town of Waterville is just over a half hour away.
With two mega-resorts tailor-made for golfers and gamers (and especially both), the southeasternmost corner of Connecticut is a wonderful spot for a few-days' fun. Mohegan Sun Golf Club and Foxwoods Resort's Lake Of Isles Golf Club - North Course (and the South Course, if you have private club juice) are top-notch facilities with interesting golf courses and wonderful conditioning. If you want to get off campus for a round, Connecticut National Golf Club about 45 minutes north serves up the best golf experience of the three.
Crystal Springs, New Jersey
A large standalone property, Crystal Springs Resort boasts six golf courses, including a top-ranked New Jersey public course in Ballyowen and two nine-holers, including the executive Minerals Course. The resort spun off the George Fazio-designed Great Gorge Country Club, but the 27-hole course is back open under new management and receiving good reviews as well.
It's a big place, but Long Island has a bunch to offer a golfer, and not just the golfer who can get in the door at places like Shinnecock Hills, National Golf Links of America and the other East End luminaries. If you do want to go out to the Hamptons, Montauk Downs is a marvelous muni, but there's not a whole lot else out there for the rank-and-file golfer. Back toward New York City, things improve in a hurry. After all, Bethpage State Park, with its bucket-list Black Course and severely underrated Red Course beckons. Another worthy course is Timber Point Golf Course, designed in the 20s by Harry Colt and Charles Alison.
Stowe Mountain Club is one of New England's most scenic golf courses. (Destination Hotels/Stowe Mountain Lodge)
The upper reaches of the Green Mountain State have a shortish season but a robust slate of courses. The two layouts at Stowe Mountain Lodge - Stowe Mountain Club and Stowe Country Club - cut a nice mutual contrast to one another. Down toward the wonderful small city of Burlington, The Links at Lang Farm is an under-the-radar pleasant par-60 layout. The Jack Nicklaus-designed Vermont National Country Club is nominally private but does take some reciprocal play as well.
This historic corner of New England is known as a gateway to Cape Cod, but it is a separate environment unto itself, and superior to the Cape in concentration of enjoyable golf. Golfers have plenty of choices here: the 36-hole Pinehills Golf Club and its Nicklaus and (Rees) Jones courses are good for a game, as is the Brian Silva-designed Waverly Oaks Golf Club. Crosswinds Golf Course is a 27-hole facility that offers solid value, rounding out a nice foursome right in Plymouth. If you've always wanted to play golf amongst cranberry bogs, you can head to the short (par 61) but locally beloved Southers Marsh Golf Course. To get an idea of the fun atmosphere created by the bog- and course-owning Stearns family, look no further than their 2018 Super Bowl ad ("It's the berries!").
Pennsylvania's mountains are a long-standing getaway for people from New York and Philadelphia, and golfers have long been among vacationers to the region. Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort is a rare opportunity to play a non-private A.W. Tillinghast design and stay at a circa-1911 inn. Less than 15 minutes from Shawnee is the modern Great Bear Golf Club, a Jack Nicklaus design originally envisioned as a private enclave but since opened up to fee-paying guests. Another modern favorite is Jack Frost National Golf Club in Blakeslee, about 40 minutes west of Shawnee Inn.
Turning Stone Resort, New York
Turning Stone Casino is one of our favorite standalone golf resorts, with three excellent "big" courses in the Shenendoah, Atunyote and Kaluhyat, plus a no-frills layout in Pleasant Knolls and a nine-hole par-3 course in Sandstone Hollow. The Lodge, The Tower, the Hotel and the Inn supply a wide range of accommodations that fit any golf group size or budget.