Course Name: Granite Links Golf Club
Designer: John Sanford (Granite/Milton 9’s, 2004, Quincy 9, 2006)
Location: Quincy, Massachusetts
History: Granite Links wasn’t an easy project – architect John Sanford was given two old landfills and a granite quarry to design an upscale 27 hole course. Using over 900,000 truckloads of dirt from the Big Dig, Sanford slowly added layers to the property until the first 9 holes opened in 2003. This 9 was a combination of holes from today’s Granite and Milton Nines, which were both completed in 2004. In 2006, the Quincy 9 was built to complete the design. Granite Links entered Golf Digest’s Top 100 Public Courses soon after its opening but has since fallen off the list. Today, it holds the following accolades:
- #18 Best Course in Massachusetts – Golf Digest (2017)
- #9 Best Public Course in Massachusetts – Golf Magazine (2016)
Conditions: 8/10, Granite Links is the best-conditioned public course in the Boston area. Although wet from a recent rain storm, the course was in strong shape when I played with well-maintained fairways and teeboxes and thick, lush rough. The greens were slowed by the rain but still rolled true.
Value: 3/10, A round at Granite Links is not cheap at $125 on weekdays and $150 on weekends and holidays. Even 9 holes after work costs $75! I understand it’s close to the city, but these prices are way too high.
Course Tee Par Yardage Rating Slope
Milton/Quincy Black 71 6873 73.9 139
Milton/Quincy M Combo 71 6636 73.2 135
Milton/Quincy Blue 71 6379 72.1 131
Milton/Quincy White 71 5758 69.1 124
Milton/Quincy L Combo 72 5188 70.8 119
Milton/Quincy Red 72 4980 69.8 118
Milton/Granite Black 72 6818 73.4 141
Milton/Granite M Combo 72 6498 72.5 135
Milton/Granite Blue 72 6300 71.6 134
Milton/Granite White 72 5547 68.5 126
Milton/Granite L Combo 72 5263 73.6 129
Milton/Granite Red 72 5001 70.6 124
Granite/Quincy Black 71 6735 73.3 137
Granite/Quincy M Combo 71 6480 72.3 134
Granite/Quincy Blue 71 6247 71.3 130
Granite/Quincy White 71 5519 68.0 126
Granite/Quincy L Combo 72 4993 71.2 128
Granite/Quincy Red 72 4723 68.4 123
Hole Descriptions: Granite Links features three sets of 9 holes (Milton, Granite, Quincy) with one rotating as a member’s only course each day. We played the Quincy 9 followed by the Milton 9 and didn’t get to experience the Granite 9. Given the price and disappointment of the other two nines, making a return to Granite is not exactly at the top on my priority list.
Granite Links isn’t a bad course by any means, but I feel it relies too much on its brilliant skyline views at the expense of the actual design. There are some very good individual holes, but unfortunately many fall into one of two categories – afterthoughts or overly penal. Additionally, approximately half the holes are built straight into the side of the hill, and this becomes stale quickly. I don’t quite understand the need to make the course 27 holes, when it seems Sanford could’ve built a stronger, more varied design with the standard 18.
Granite Links isn’t exactly a long course, but the elevation changes and constant wind make it so very few holes play the yardage on the scorecard. The opening hole at the Quincy 9 is actually the longest on the property as a straightaway 518 yard par 5. This hole features a narrow fairway lined by OB down the left and a steep hill right. Bunkers dot this fairway at 180 and 200 yards on the left and 280 yards on the right. This approach plays slightly downhill with a speed slot and bunker on the left 150 yards short of an undulating green surrounded by three bunkers.
The par threes on the Quincy Course are strong beginning with the lengthy 220 yard 2nd. This is a very intimidating hole with an 180 yard forced carry over water to a Redan-like green that slopes right-to-left. A giant bunker guards the left side of the green while five small bunkers pepper a hill on the right.
Although only 481 yards, the par 5 3rd is another difficult hole with numerous blind uphill shots. This fairway is initially wide, but narrows with fairway bunkers at 200 yards on either side. After this point, OB left and bushes down the right are certainly in play and the fairway tilts hard right-to-left. With about 100 yards to go, this fairway turns sharply right and uphill towards an elevated green guarded by a bunker left and a severe false front.
The par 4 4th actually plays longer than the previous par 5 at 489 yards. This hole, however, plays much shorter due to an extreme speed slot most golfers should be able to reach. My partner and I foolishly thought the black pole by the women’s teebox was the line, but the actual line is left of the water tower in the background. This approach plays to a narrow, back-to-front sloped, bunkerless green surrounded by creative moguls.
At 439 yards, the 5th is another long par 4 and another hole that plays up a severe uphill gradient. Sequential bunkers begin at 140 yards on the right followed by 220 yards on the left. This approach plays at least one club extra to a shallow green sandwiched by bunkers short and long.
The 6th is the shortest hole at Granite Links as an 140 yard par 3. This is an attractive downhill one-shotter with a deep bunker short wedged between two steep false fronts. Birdies can be had if you can navigate this undulating green.
The 7th hole is one of the most interesting holes at Granite Links and not a very good one in my opinion. At 296 yards on the scorecard, the green on this short par 4 is only about 240 yards from the teebox! This green is hidden behind a right mound on this dogleg right that turns at just 200 yards. Four-leaved clover bunkers line both sides of the dogleg and make for a difficult up-and-down. A lay-up off the tee leaves only a short pitch into this small, back-to-front sloped green. This hole feels a bit cheap for a course of Granite Links’ caliber and is one of several short par fours that feel cramped.
The 220 yard 8th hole is the second long par 3 on the Quincy Course. While this hole plays shorter straight downhill, there’s absolutely no bailout with fescue short and thick forest surrounding the other three sides of a large, relatively flat green. A par here is well-earned.
The final hole on the Quincy Course is yet another hole built into the side of a hill. At 360 yards, this medium-length dogleg left plays longer with a narrow fairway lined by two giant bunkers at 200 yards on the left and 240 yards on the right. Fescue lines the entire left side of the hole and this approach plays further uphill to a challenging multi-tiered green lined by a bunker right.
The opening hole on the Milton Course is easily the best hole on the nine and one of the best on the property as a beautiful 454 yard par 4. Demanding an exhilarating downhill teeshot over a 200 yard chasm, this hole grabs your attention from the start. This fairway is relatively wide for the first 300 yards, but constricts and turns right for the final 150. A heavily undulating green is guarded by a deep bunker left and steep drop-off long.
The 2nd is a nice straightforward 171 yard par 3 playing slightly uphill over a hazard to a large green lined by two large bunkers right.
There are several holes I have real problems with on the Milton 9 with my least favorite being the 411 yard 3rd. This difficult par 4 features a blind teeshot over a plateau with prominent bunkers on the left at 170 yards and a hidden water hazard at 230 yards. I don’t understand the reasoning behind this hazard, as many golfers playing here the first time will run through the fairway into the hazard. From the edge of the fairway, this approach plays about 160 yards to a shallow green guarded by a bunker long. There’s ample room to miss short left.
At 486 yards, the 4th is a short, straightaway par 5 running along the edge of the property. This is a relatively simple hole if the golfer can find this wide fairway lined by OB down the entire right side and bunkers on the left between 230 and 300 yards. A patch of rough bisects the fairway at 290 yards but even golfers that find this rough can give this green a go in two. This large green is protected by a bunker short.
While the 364 yard 5th doesn’t offer much in terms of design value, you could argue this is Granite Links’ signature hole with stunning views of the Boston skyline in the background. This skyline looms on an already appealing teeshot framed by mounds of bunkers at 225 yards on the right and 275 yards on the left. The fairway turns right between these bunkers towards an infinity green.
The 6th is another nice par 3 at 188 yards. Playing level, this hole demands a well-struck iron to a large green guarded by bunkers short left and long right and a small false front. This green features numerous tiers and slopes back right-to-front left.
I don’t really care for the 7th or 8th at the Milton Course, two short par fours that feel cramped and like Sanford ran out of space. There’s a fair degree of target golf and luck here, similar to the worst hole at Sanford’s other landfill design – Trump Ferry Point #11. At just 323 yards, the 7th is a strange hole with an 150 yard forced carry to a wide fairway with giant midline bunkers starting at 190 yards extending all the way to this shallow green. The ideal line is probably down the right with driver/3 wood, as there’s not much space short or left to lay-up.
The 8th is similarly short and weak at 335 yards. Featuring another brief forced carry, this hole features a relatively wide fairway initially lined by two bunkers on the left at 160 and 200 yards. At about 220 yards, this fairway constricts to almost nothing with a bunker down the right extending all the way to the green. This green features numerous tiers including a back right swale that everything funnels towards.
The closing hole on the Milton Course plays similarly to the Quincy closer as a dogleg left built into the side of a hill. Officially 484 yards, this par 5 plays much longer due to the severe uphill gradient. This hole features a difficult teeshot over water to a narrow fairway lined by OB right and a steep hill left that leaves miserable stances (trust me, I know). A bunker at 290 yards on the right is only in play for the longest hitters, but bunkers 110 yards from the green on the left are certainly in play on the lay-up. This large back-to-front sloped green is guarded by two cavernous bunkers short for those who don’t club up.
General Comments: The facilities at Granite Links are impressive with a beautiful clubhouse and apparently one of the best 19th holes in America.
The driving range is massive and in view from most holes, which isn’t exactly a good thing. I do, however, like the bar and patio by the range that emits an almost Topgolf-like feel. There’s also a large practice green near the 1st holes at the Granite and Milton Nines.
The ranger, aware that pace of play was an issue, let my twosome play the member’s 9 first to facilitate a faster pace. This courtesy did not go unnoticed!
Verdict: The skyline views, facilities, and conditions dazzle at Granite Links, but it’s hard for me to think of a more overpriced or overrated course in all of New England. This is definitely a viable option for Boston visitors, but I’d personally rather play the historic George Wright at 1/3 the price.