There’s a saying in golf that courses can have “great bones.” It’s a back handed compliment in some respect, praising the layout of the course, while dissing the maintenance or change over time (overgrowth, tree, bunkering). Well, (here it comes…) Ponkapoag Course #1 has great bones. The DCR funded course was designed by world renowned architecture Donald Ross, who has his name on many Massachusetts courses.
The recurring thought I had in my mind the whole round was why this was my first time playing at “Ponky.” It’s a short(wish) drive down 93 in Canton. It’s incredibly cheap (30 bucks to walk) and it a blast to play. There were rumors way back that the course was actually looked at as a possible US Open host for the 1990s. There were some moments standing on tees and walking down fairways that I could picture long, think rough and skinny fairways forcing players to shape shots from the tee. Speed up Donny Ross’ greens and you’re bound to have a tough test.
The greens were the downside of the experience, they were incredibly slow and it took nearly the entire round for us to figure out how hard to hit it, and even then, the luck involved was high considering the think grain would send your ball in various directions. The green complexes are super cool though. We found ourselves pointing at spots in some greens and imagining how challenging it would be to navigate if they were running fast.
Some of the highlight holes for me were the the 6th hole, which is a sweeping dogleg left with a great second shot that can be as easy as hard as you want, depending on how much of the dogleg you want to cut.
The 7th hole is another great one, the tee shot is incredibly difficult. A forced carry to a small fairway surrounded by marsh. Penalty shots abound and I made my one ball donation on this hole.
The 12th hole is a delightful par 3. Tucked way back on the property, The green sit in a little hollow, and the green as some splendid movement on it. I didn’t get to enjoy it too much. A fried egg lie in the bunker made my life difficult on this one.
The 17th hole is the last standout for me. A snaking dogleg par 4, it’s not terribly long, but the tee shot requires some accuracy and the play into the green is tough due to trees and then some clever bunkering.The green is small, too.
Eliot and I were the first people to make a purchase from the snack bar in 2020. Dumb luck that we made the turn when they opened up. Every single employee were encountered was incredibly nice, including the kid who helped us find our way when we (literally) got lost between the 8th green and 9th tee.
Overall, Ponky Course 1 was a great walk and a fun course. The bones are there and I am looking forward to playing the second course in the very near future. A day of 36 holes might be in the cards.
Date: June 26, 2020
Tee TIme: 8:50
Playing Partner: Eliot
Tees: Back boxes (Whites were longest tees, so we made up up our own tee boxes as far back as we could))
Game: Nassau ($15 total)
Birdie Count: 1 (6 total)