Review: John F. Parker Municipal Golf Course

Course Name: John F. Parker Municipal Golf Course

Designer: Unknown (1938)

Location: Taunton, Massachusetts

History: Named after a longtime mayor of Taunton, John F. Parker is a 9 hole municipal course. There have been talks of expanding the course to 18 holes in recent years, but no plans are finalized yet.

Conditions: 3/10, We played in an April rainstorm after a tough winter so it’s impossible to get a feel for how this course plays in season. The course drained rather poorly and features very slow, but true greens. Teeboxes and bunkers aren’t in great shape, and the rough ranges from very thin to thick and lush.

Value: 4/10, It costs $22 for weekends and $19 on weekdays for 9 holes, which won’t exactly break the bank, but isn’t the best deal in the world. It’s worth noting John F. Parker is cash only.

Scorecard:

Tee                                 Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Blue                               35           3034               34.8              123

White                            35           2791               33.4               117

Red                                35           2217               32.8               110

Hole Descriptions: A suburban muni in Southeastern Massachusetts, John F. Parker is best described as an open field with a smattering of bunkers and trees mixed in. The bones are there for a decent 9 hole track, but current conditioning does little to differentiate fairway from rough or enhance bunker prominence. This is a good course for beginners or high-handicappers, as there is always a generous bailout area and few opportunities to lose balls.

The opening hole plays away from the clubhouse/bar as a straightaway 365 yard par 4 featuring a very generous fairway bounded by bunkers at about 210 yards on both sides. This green is slightly elevated and is guarded by a bunker on the right.

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The 1st teebox with the rain still coming down hard

At 391 yards, the 2nd is the longest par 4 on the course and my favorite hole by a pretty wide margin.With a tree-lined fairway the entire way and a small creek bisecting the hole at about 200 yards, this is a hole that could comfortably fit on a Donald Ross private course with some sprucing up. This back-to-front sloped green is elevated and guarded by a bunker on the right.

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The par 4 2nd from the teebox
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The uphill approach on 2

Running parallel to the 2nd, the 342 yard 3rd is a straightaway par 4 that plays downhill. With a generous landing area and no real danger, golfers of all ability can rip driver here to try to get it close to the green.

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The downhill par 4 3rd

At just 453 yards, the 4th hole is the only par 5 at John F. Parker. Out of bounds lines the entire left side of this half-par hole and this fairway bends slightly to the right. Aside from the OB, the only danger on this hole comes in the form of a crossbunker about 30 yards in front of this green. This is good bunker placement and demonstrates to me that the unknown architect had some understanding of golf architecture.

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Don’t go left on the 4th
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The approach on 4

The 5th is a 350 yard par 4 with a blind teeshot over a plateau followed by a downhill approach. A residential street lines the left while small trees line the right. This approach is one of my favorites on the course to a back-to-front sloped green guarded by a bunker on the right.

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The downhill approach on the 5th

John F. Parker features two long par threes, the first being the 197 yard 6th. This is a solid hole with a forced carry over a pond and bunkers lining both sides of a circular green.

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The par 3 6th

At just 335 yards, the 7th is the shortest par 4 on the course and plays even shorter straight downhill. While theoretically reachable for longer players, a pond juts into the fairway short right of this green and is very much in play.  This green slopes back-to-front and features a mild false front.

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The downhill par 4 7th

The 367 yard 8th is a strange hole and one that seems forced by the boundaries of the property. This hole features a 90 degree dogleg left at about 200 yards with houses lining the entire left side. It’s possible to cut the corner or hit a slinging hook, but there’s nothing wrong with hitting a 210 yard straight drive here. This green is rather small and slopes back-to-front.

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The confusing look from the 8th teebox

John F. Parker closes with a very difficult par 3 that stretches to 234 yards from the Blue Tees. This hole is essentially a wide open field, but length alone makes par a very strong score here. The worse miss is to the left, where a few trees and a deep bunker leave a very difficult up-and-down.

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The par 3 9th

General Comments: There is a small range and putting green at John F. Parker, which is rare for an old urban 9 hole course in New England. Pace of play was fantastic on a gloomy April day, but I’m not sure this is true for all seasons. The clubhouse serves as both a proshop and bar, and I was somewhat disappointed by how rudely we were treated by the employees. They spoke to us in a very condescending manner regarding the weather and just didn’t seem to want us there.

Verdict: While skilled players may find the rudimentary design and subpar conditioning underwhelming, John F. Parker is a decent course for novices or high handicappers to hone their skills.


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