Course Name: Nehoiden Golf Club
Designer: Unknown (1893)
Location: Wellesley, Massachusetts
History: Founded in 1893, Nehoiden is the oldest college course in America and debatably the oldest nine-hole course as well. Open only to residents of Wellesley and Wellesley College affiliates, Nehoiden was known as Wellesley Golf Club until 1927.
Conditions: 8/10, The conditioning at Nehoiden is impressive. The rough is lush, the bunkers pure, and the greens smooth and fast.
Value: N/A, the course is private and only open to Wellesley College students and residents of the town of Wellesley.
Tee Par Yardage Rating Slope
Blue 36 3042 34.8 130
White 36 2931 34.3 124
Red 36 2719 36.2 126
Best Score: 40 (Blue Tees), 5/30/2017 with George W.
Hole Descriptions: A classic design, Nehoiden is full of elevation changes and strategic bunkering. The opening hole is a reachable uphill 451 yard par 5. Your drive must travel at least 180 yards to carry a creek. A tall tree on the left side of the creek will catch pulled drives. At about 120 yards from the hole, the fairway narrows as trees jut out on the left. You can see Wellesley College’s Bell Tower in the background on your approach.
The 2nd hole at Nehoiden is a claustrophobic 374 yard par 4 that features an elevated teebox. At about 250 yards from the tee, this hole turns left. A back-to-front sloped green is guarded by a creek short and a bunker on the left and back right.
At only 313 yards, the short 3rd is reachable for longer hitters and fairly open off the tee. The major danger here is two deep bunkers just short of this green that force you to fly it to the green. Relative to par, there is probably no hole more difficult than the 200 yard par 3 4th. Relatively flat, this hole features a small green is surrounded by four bunkers that catch many well-struck balls. Arguably the most intimidating hole at Nehoiden, the 5th appears much longer than 366 yards because of the extremely elevated green looming in the distance. From a secluded teebox, you must find the fairway here to have any chance at par, as tall trees guard right and fescue guards the left. About 50 yards from this green, the fairway is bisected by a road. After this road, the hole runs straight uphill to a large, fast green.
The 6th and 7th holes run parallel and are two of my favorite par fours on the course. At 369 yards, the 6th is open off the tee outside of a small bunker on the right at 220 yards. The green on this hole is still blind up until about 60 yards of the green when the fairway slopes straight downhill. Picking an appropriate aiming point is paramount to hitting this small green – hint: aim at the light pole. The 7th hole is short and sweet at 309 yards. This fairway is fairly narrow and undulating and is a must hit for anyone trying to reach this green in regulation. Players will have to contend with multiple bunkers near this green.
The 8th hole may be my favorite hole at Nehoiden. At only 148 yards, this hole should be simple but visually intimidating bunkers and a tree overhanging the left make you think twice on this teebox. The green here is the most challenging on the course. The finishing hole is a strong par 5 measuring 533 yards from the tips. A wide fairway is cut in three by a creek 200 yards from hole and a road 75 yards from the hole. This back-to-front sloped green is miserable for those above the hole.
Best Par 3: 8th hole, 148 yards, 17th handicap. Featuring an elevated teebox, this short hole is more difficult than it should be due to its intimidating visuals. A tree overhangs the left side of the green and three bunkers guard the front of this green. The shortest bunker is an illusion, as it appears much closer to the green than it actually is. A severe ridge in the middle of this green makes it the most undulating on the course.
Best Par 4: 6th hole, 369 yards, 9th handicap. This medium-length par 4 is fairly open off the tee, but experience is necessary to score well on this hole. After a cross-bunker about 70 yards short of this green, the fairways drops severely to a small green. When the fairway is firm, you’ll have to play it short here to avoid running through.
Best Par 5: 9th hole, 533 yards, 5th handicap. The longest hole at Nehoiden, this slight dogleg left runs downhill to a wide fairway guarded by a road on the left and trees on the right. At about 200 yards from the green, a creek bisects the fairway. After this creek, the hole runs straight uphill to a severe back-to-front sloped green.
General Comments: The amenities at Nehoiden are pretty bare bone. There is no clubhouse and the course only allows walking. Like most old courses, the practice facilities are makeshift, with a small driving range situated between the 1st and 2nd holes. A practice green can be found beside the 6th hole but is nowhere near the clubhouse. It’s worth noting that playing from another fairway at Nehoiden is prohibited and wayward drives that land in another fairway are considered OB.
Verdict: Brimming with character, this short, classic nine-hole design offers a fun, well-conditioned round the way golf was meant to be played. Just don’t expect much in terms of amenities.