Course 113: GreatHorse
Date Played: September 6, 2023
Yardage: 5,265 - 7,577
Tier: Rating: 4/5
Let's get this out of the way from the jump: The conditioning, facilities, and experience at GreatHorse is second to none in Massachusetts.
The course golf, once Hampden CC and reimagined by Brian Silva in 2015, is a stern test. The immediate visuals at GreatHorse are stunning. Bunkers are everywhere, and the hills are extreme. Fescue grass waves in the wind. It is one of the hardest courses in the state.
What makes it so hard are the bunkers, the greens, and the length (although they have a plethora of tee box options.). Most tee shots ask players to navigate around bunkers that frame landing areas, which does get a touch monotonous. Find a groove with a driver, and life can be pretty sweet at GreatHorse, but if you hit it a little wayward, it could be a long day because the bunkers are penal, and trying to save par from off the green is no picnic.
GreatHorse is also challenging because the par 3s are long. The par 5s are beastly; reaching any of them in 2 is a herculean effort; even the lay-ups are challenging from the wrong part of the hole.
The standout holes for me are the 5th, 6th, 8th, and 15th.
The 5th gives players a bit of room off the tee; a little pot bunker sits in the middle of the fairway. The green is a double green, sharing with the 7th. It's an arrow straight hole, but it sets up the next four holes that play in a corner of the property that I rather like.
The 6th tee shot is like a lot of others on the course, but I love its big green site and the approach shot. 8 is simply a monster with a cluster of bunkers in the fairway and another outstanding green site. It's the first uphill approach on the course.
15 is a delightful par 3, it feels like a respite, but the slithering green is maniacal, and the hole's distance can range 30 yards depending on the pin.
Holes 16-18 are polarizing. They have the only uphill approaches on the course, so it can feel a bit odd. GreatHorse pulls no punches and no one should turn down an opportunity to play it, even if it leaves you a little bruised.