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Bay State Picks: Nine-hole courses worth playing before or after work

We're nearing that incredible time of the year when nine holes are a possibility before or after dealing with the Monday-Friday rat race. It's a great way to keep the game sharp or catch up with friends or wait out the traffic jams on 93 or just unwind.

Here are a few nine-hole spots that's I've played during my quest that you should check out this summer.

Cape Ann Golf Club- Essex, Mass.

Just a delightful nine-hole course on the north shore. Play golf along the marshes of Essex. Be warned, the summer is a popular time for greenheads which can be vicious.

The course winds around the edge of the marsh and the fourth hole is a great reveal of wonderful views, and the seventh hole is a polarizing par 3 that might take your soul or remind you why you love golf... or both.

Cotuit Highgrounds - Cotuit, Mass.

Cotuit is a different type of golf. A unique experience where driver is needed once and wedges are the main tool if you're hoping to make a little money. It's part pitch-and-putt and part par-3 course. On Wednesdays, they have a quota game that is open to anyone. The people are kind, and they wear jeans and t-shirts. There are zero pretensions and tons of character. A delight.

Furnace Brook Golf Club- Quincy, Mass.

A former private golf club and ski hill, Furnace Brook's history is still relevant now. The courses routing is solid, the green complexes are very good and tough to hold when the ground turns firm and fast. The hills are steep, and some of the tee shots are blind.

One quirk that might only exist at Furnace Brook is if you tee it up on a school day, the 7th hole becomes a par 3 because the playground runs along the left side of the fairway. To protect the children, the par 4 is shortened during school hours (I am not sure if this is the case in the summer... )

North Hill Country Club - Duxbury, Mass.

North Hill isn't just a spot to play nine holes in the summer, it's typically open year round if the weather cooperates.

The opening three holes are complete ass-kickers. Really good holes, especially the second hole, which has a tight drive followed by a steep uphill second shot too a tiny green.

Just like most good nine hole courses, it has a few features that impact a lot of the holes. In this case, a ridge runs through the middle of the property. Holes play across the ridge and up and down the ridge, too.

Olde Salem Greens - Salem, Mass.

A really great muni on the north shore. It plays across some extreme land, including a steep dropdown par 3 second hole that has a blind tee shot. The fourth hole is one of my favorite par 5s in the state.

It's a great walk with some solid holes and a great public golf vibe in the clubhouse. There's also a ghost hole that people have told me about (but I've never searched for), if you walk through the parking lot. Gotta love "off menu" golf!

Sassamon Trace Golf Course- Natick, Mass.

A par 32 with five par 3s and one par 5, this course is partly built on an old landfill. There are some really excellent holes here, particularly the third, a par 3 set into the side of a hill, the par 4 6th is a dogleg right that runs along the edge of an orchard. The ninth hole is a great cape-style hole that offers players all sorts of lines off the tee depending on how aggressive they want to be. The key is being accurate on the approach because the ninth green is kind of wild.

A great candidate for a brisk nine holes.

Unicorn Golf Course - Woburn, Mass.

An easy drive from Boston, Unicorn is a charming nine holer with a rich history (shoutout Poor Man's Golf Guide for the history lesson). The course is simple and no-frills. The first few holes meander back and forth traversing a ridge that runs through holes 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9. The closing stretch is tough, with some meaty par 4s (7 and 9) and a tough par 5 (7th). The fifth runs along the edge of the property and might be the best hole on the course.

Weathervane Golf Club- Hingham, Mass.

A south shore treat, Weathervane has simply ridiculous back tees that will make you think you'll break a window in one of the houses that sit a touch too close to the playing corridors.

But, the course is an easy walk with a couple of interesting holes. The third hole has a very cool green and a good approach shot. The fourth is a tough par 3. The 7th and 8th holes are also good, winding holes with good greens and land movement that pushes players slowly back up hill as they reach the flat and short ninth hole which boasts an island green.

I've heard that the clubhouse is also a good post-round hang for food and drinks.

What spots do you love for a nine-hole escape?

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