Course 112: Elmcrest CC
East Longmeadow, Mass.
Date Played: September 5, 2023
Tier: Dive Bar (Zombie category)
Yardage: 4,586 - 6,550
Elmcrest drummed up a feeling I have never felt pulling into a parking lot. It was a mixture of confusion and sadness. Two tractor-trailers with faded lettering were parked at the far end of the lot; another was stationed near the clubhouse, which had been marked with a red "X."
A little red hut sat in the middle of the lot, doors flung open. My car was one of two in the lot.
It felt apocalyptic. A place wanderers would come across in a TV show, dig up some clubs, and play one last round before saying goodbye to the game they loved.
The man in the pro shop said the owner was done mowing for the season. "You'll lose some balls out there," he quipped.
As we talked, roosters, goats, and sheep bayed their usual sounds. The old driving range is now a farm because the former owner refused to give up the land when the course was sold.
After a couple decades as a successful private club, ECC slowly deteriorated as ownership changed hands. Golf's downturn in the early 2010s hurt the club, and when the 2020 boom hit, the course was packed for public play, but money wasn't put back into it. Two kitchen fires in the clubhouse (I'll let you read between the lines...) left the clubhouse condemned (cans of beer and condiments are still in the downstairs bar area, looking like a scene from Station 11).
The course has some seriously great bones, but it's unplayable. The rough would make the USGA blush, the greens are completely dead, the tee boxes are dirt, or weeds, or a concoction of both. The bunkers aren't bunkers. The trees are overgrown and in the way of many shots.
I will never play a more neglected golf course. I hope someone (cough, GreatHorse, cough) invests in this course because it was, and still could be, very good.
We paid 25 bucks to walk as many holes as we wanted (18 was more than enough on a sweltering afternoon as we swatted bugs away).
If you have a curious bone in your body, a bucket of beat-up balls you don't mind losing, and a sense of humor, go check out Elmcrest to reset the lowest level of golf you can possibly experience.