The Itinerant Golfer

The Itinerant Golfer's Take on Myopia Hunt Club


Myopia Hunt Club

Architect: Herbert Leeds
Year: 1896

Off 435 Bay Road, South Hamilton, Massachusetts 01982
(978) 468-1402

driving range available
motorized golf carts and caddies available
on-site accommodations

U.S. Open - 1898, 1901, 1905, 1908


Planning my trip to Boston this past summer was a bit of a roller coaster ride. Originally I had hoped to play Kittansett, Boston Golf Club and Old Sandwich, but as things go with this Top 100 quest my plans got turned on end and I made adjustments on the fly. Through a series of unexpected events and strokes of luck Myopia Hunt Club popped into the mix and I was afforded an opportunity to play this wonderful and historic club.

Myopia Hunt Club is without question one of the more unusual names for a club. Myopia is the clinical name for nearsightedness and not exactly a word that one would think of when it comes to naming a club. Between Old Sandwich Golf Club and Myopia Hunt Club, Massachusetts must win the award for the most uniquely named golf clubs. As the story goes, the club was founded by nine young Harvard men in 1875 for the purpose of playing baseball. All of these nine gentlemen wore glasses which was probably unusual in the year 1875. One can only guess that they found a little humor in this detail and ran with the name Myopia. The name stuck and the club is known today as the Myopia Hunt Club.

Although baseball was the catalyst for forming the club, the first decade of the club’s existence saw fox hunting, polo and tennis added to the club’s activities roster. During the first decade is also when the club moved from its original location of Winchester, just northwest Boston, to the current South Hamilton location which is further north and little bit east of Boston.

Golf was introduced at Myopia in 1894 when a nine hole course was laid out. Shortly thereafter, the course was expanded to 18 holes and Herbert Leeds, a club member and top amateur golfer, was given credit for the design. Much like the Fownes at Oakmont Mr. Leeds subscribed to the theory that no poor shot should go unpunished. The legend goes that he would carry white chips in his pocket and when a player would hit a ball astray Leeds would mark the spot with a chip and a new bunker would be built on that spot. What a friendly guy he was!

Today Myopia Hunt Club flies a little below the radar and is a bit of a low key, mysterious place that is a very special invite to receive. That said, it was not always this way. At the turn of the 20th century Myopia was a key player in the fledgling American golf scene. In 1898 the fourth playing of the U.S. Open was held here as well as three more times in the following ten years – 1901, 1905 and finally 1908. Sadly, at the time of this writing it has been over 100 years since a U.S. Open has been contested at this historic club. Truth be told it is probably too short of a course by today’s standards to hold up to the 320 yard drives being hit on tour these days. What a shame.

So, when I was lining up my trip to Boston I made a connection with Hans who is a member at The Country Club. Because we weren’t going to be able to play his club on the day we had planned due to a tournament, Hans asked if there was anywhere else I wanted to play. Without a moment’s hesitation I suggested Myopia Hunt Club. A few days later Hans emailed me back to let me know that he had been able to arrange a game for us through a friend of his that was a member and a very good player.

As I outlined in my post about The Country Club I ended up coming into Boston a day early and did get to play there with Hans after all. The next day we were up bright and early to play Myopia Hunt Club. Hank, our host, wanted to get out to the club early so we arrived at the crack of 7:30AM. Driving into the club it became immediately apparent that this was a special place. Myopia Hunt Club is a real throw back in the club world. The primary activities at Myopia are polo, hunting, golf and clay court tennis. In addition to the golf course the club property includes stables, a polo field and a gorgeous old clubhouse. Hank had not arrived yet, but Hans had been there enough that he knew his way around and we parked our cars in front of the clubhouse and made our way into the locker room to change our shoes.

After changing shoes we loaded into a couple of carts and drove up a windy trail to the practice tee to hit a few balls. Hank showed up a few minutes later and when we were all sufficiently warmed up we drove back down to the pro shop where we ditched the carts and met up with our caddies.

There are three sets of tees at Myopia that range from 6,539 yards to 5,525 yards and all play to a par of 72. We elected to play the red tees which unlike most clubs are the longest tees on the course. Chalk that up to one of Myopia’s interesting quirks. As the sun was coming up over the horizon we made teams, set our match and put some balls in play.

Hole 1 – First – 274 yards – par 4
The first hole at Myopia is a soft start with a very short par 4 that is probably drivable for bit hitters. It does play a little longer than the scorecard would indicated because the drive is straight uphill.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Even a short hitter will be left with just a short wedge into the green.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
The wedge shot is not to be taken too lightly as the green on this hole is exceptionally small.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Hole 2 – Lookout – 487 yards – par 5
This hole starts out with fantastic view of the fairway from an elevated tee box. With a good drive the green on this short par 5 is definitely reachable in two.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Below is a view from the fairway. Players attempting to reach the green in two will have to deal with a blind shot into the green.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Here is a little closer look. The green sits between the mounds and down below the fairway.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Below is a photo of the little cross bunker in the middle of the fairway about 100 yards out from the green.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
And a close up view of the small green.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Hole 3 – Brae – 253 yards – par 3
Golf is typically associated with silence, but there are certain places in the game with unique sounds that create indelible memories. One that comes to mind is the first couple of holes at Spyglass Hill with the sea lions barking away on the rocks near the shore. Standing on the 3rd tee at Myopia is another one of those spots. Just through the trees and shrubs to the left of the 3rd hole is where Myopia’s hunting dogs are located. Players hitting their tee shots here will likely be serenaded by the sounds of hound dogs barking and carrying on over in the kennel. What a cool little reminder of the rich history and hunting tradition found at Myopia. The photo below was taken from the tee box. At 253 yards this hole is no joke.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Note the lack of hazards around the green. Most of the bunkers on this hole are short and to the left or right of the putting surface which means only the most poorly hit shots are penalized with bunkers.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Hole 4 – Miles River – 392 yards – par 4
This is a hole where being able to draw the ball will provide a lot of value. As can be seen in the photo below the drive sets up well for players who can move the ball from right to left.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
The approach shot into the green is a tricky one here because the green is slanted very severely from right to left and back to front. It’s not terribly visible in the photo below, but shots that don’t carry far enough onto the green or come in from the wrong angle have a high likelihood of rolling right off the front.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
The slant is a little more visible in this photo taken from the 5th tee box looking back at the 4th green.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Hole 5 – Lone Tree – 417 yards – par 4
This long par 4 is a fairly straight forward driving hole. Hit the fairway and hit it a long ways is the best advice I can offer.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
The approach into the green will likely be a mid or long iron for most players. The green is good sized but has a number of bunkers around it to catch wayward shots.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Here is a look at the bunker on the left side of the green which caused a little bit of trouble for Hank.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Below is the view back down the fairway from behind the green near the 6th tee.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Hole 6 – Brook – 260 yards – par 4
Being just 260 yards this par 4 is only a mere 7 yards longer than the par 3 played at the 3rd hole. The bold will attempt to drive the green and the conservative will hit a 160 yard shot and have a wedge into the green.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
The photo below was taken from over near the 7th tee where one of the players in our group hit his tee shot. Sometimes being bold doesn’t necessarily pay off.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
The green, pictured below, has a bit of a crowned feel to it and is not real receptive to shots coming in hot off the face of a driver or 3 wood.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Below is a photo looking back down the 6th hole from the 8th fairway.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Hole 7 – Myopia – 404 yards – par 4
The drive on this hole is uphill to a blind landing zone. The fairway falls a little bit from right to left so taking a line on the right side of the fairway is not necessarily a bad plan.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Below is a photo of the approach shot into the green which is also a blind shot. Note the bunker in the foreground of the photo. I suspect this bunker is reachable from the tee for some of the big hitters which would make taking a line down the right side of the fairway, as suggested above, a bad idea for those players.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
The 7th green sits at the bottom of the hill which makes the approach shot play a touch downhill which should be considered when making a club selection.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Hole 8 – Prairie – 472 yards – par 5
The second par 5 in the first nine holes is another short one that is certainly reachable in two for many players. The photo below was taken from the tee box and hitting it up the middle is advisable here.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
The reason hitting the drive up the middle is such a good idea is because the fairway is SO narrow in the landing zone. The photo below was taken from the fairway and gives an idea of how narrow this fairway is.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Hole 9 – Pond – 136 yards – par 3
Whats not to like about this hole? A character filled short par 3 and gingersnap cookies washed down with an Arnold Palmer. The turn at Myopia Hunt Club takes place far away from the clubhouse so the 9th tee is set up with a container of gingersnaps and two coolers filled with iced tea and lemonade. Players enjoy the below view while they munch their cookie and contemplate what club to hit.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Here is a closer view also taken from the tee.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
This view was taken walking up to the green.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
The photo below shows just exactly how narrow and small this green is. It might only be a short iron or a wedge, but the target is very small and the bunkers surrounding it are plentiful.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Hole 10 – Alps – 406 yards – par 4
The drive here is another one to a blind landing zone.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Below is a photo of the 10th green which is a typically small one fronted by a hazard.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Hole 11 – Road – 339 yards – par 4
This short par 4 is a fun little hole with a fairway that slants a bit from left to right. A line up the left hand side is a good idea and a 3 wood off the tee is also probably a pretty good play. Note how close the 10th green is in the photo below. Like many classic courses built before golf carts, Myopia is a fantastic walking course with very short distances from green to tee.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
At just 339 yards it is conceivable that big hitters could find their way into the bunker that crosses the fairway 30-40 yards off the front of the green.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Here is a closer look at the bunker that cuts diagonally across the fairway.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Below is the view of the 11th green from the 12th tee box.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Hole 12 – Valley – 446 yards – par 4
One of the longer holes on the scorecard, drives here get a little help from the elevated tee box. Our first loop around all four of us hit our balls over the rock formation on the right side of the fairway and our caddies earned their money on that search and recovery mission.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
The approach here is slightly uphill and considering that most players will be hitting a long iron or hybrid into this green it is advisable to use a little extra club. I’ve always felt the longer the shot it the more the uphill comes into play.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Below is a closer look at the green which has a little bit of a crown look to it.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Hole 13 – Hill – 349 yards – par 4
For most players the driver is not a great option for this short par 4. The photo below shows the fairway running out about 80-100 yards short of the green which means a drive of 250+ yards could easily find itself running through the fairway.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
The approach here is another uphill shot which again requires some consideration when selecting a club.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Hole 14 – Ridge – 392 yards – par 4
The 14th hole is a longish par 4 that plays relatively flat compared to the last couple of holes. The best idea here is to hit it down the middle as far as possible.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Below is a photo of the green which has some bunkering both around the green and 10-15 yards in front on the right which can be seen at the bottom of the photo. I will also note that it was on this hole that a horse casually appeared out of the woods with a young lady rider on its back. I can’t say that I’ve seen that at any other club I’ve visited and thought it was a nice indicator that equestrian activities coexist harmoniously with golf and are still a key part of daily life Myopia Hunt Club.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Hole 15 – Long – 525 yards – par 5
Of the three par 5s at Myopia this is the only one that is over 490 yards. I would say this is still reachable in two for long hitters, but probably not for most players. A drive up the middle is a good start to this hole.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
The photo below was taken from the fairway where a third shot would quite possibly be hit from.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Note the green in the photo below. This is not greenside and there is a good five or more yards between the bunker and the putting surface. I think these are tough bunker shots which is all the more reason to lay back on the second shot and avoid this hazard.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Hole 16 – Paddock – 192 yards – par 3
The final par 3 is another fairly lengthy one. The elevated tee box cuts a little distance off, but it will still require a good mid or long iron for most players. Note the gorgeous clubhouse in the background.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Below is a little closer look at the green. There are some bunkers hanging around that will make a tough up and down for players who find their way into them.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Here is a little closer view of the buildings in the background.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Hole 17 – West – 391 yards – par 4
This longish par 4 falls off to the right so a line up the left side of the hole is a pretty good plan. The rock wall that is visible on the left side of the photo below is the dividing line between the 17th hole and the driving range, so don’t go too far to the left.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
For some reason this green gave me a real fit and I FOUR putted it. I doesn’t look like much in the photo below, but I somehow managed to four jack it.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
Hole 18 – Home – 404 yards – par 4
Myopia’s final hole is a nice long par 4 with the clubhouse as a backdrop. The photo below was taken from the tee. The fairway falls to the left here so favoring the right side of the fairway is the preferred line.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
The photo below was taken from the fairway and shows a little of the drop to the left. The screened porch to the left of the green is a popular lunch spot so hitting a good approach shot here is nice since it may have an audience.
 
Myopia Hunt Club
 
After we finished playing Hans had to split back to his office for the afternoon so Kyle and I stayed for a little lunch and a couple of drinks on the screened porch with Hank and his girlfriend Deb who had been playing tennis. Over the course of lunch and a couple transfusions it was decided that it was time for Deb to play her first round of golf. Once we finished eating we went to the pro shop where she got outfitted with a new shirt, shoes and a set of rental clubs. From there we zipped down to the bar to grab a few beers and then over to the first tee. I should note that the bar that we went to was a fantastic old room with dark wood paneling and all the great vibes of a cool bar except for one missing detail . . . a bartender. This great little room was actually a self service bar which is a far cry from the usual cooler full of beer that you find at most club’s self service “bar”.

We spent the next several hours back out on the course hitting shots, drinking beer and generally having a great time. After we’d had enough golf we retired to the outside porch for a couple more drinks as Hank’s buddies filtered by on their way to play a late afternoon 9. We said hello as they went off and when they finished playing we were still in the same spot on the porch, so naturally we stayed to enjoy a couple of cocktails with them and talk golf. Finally the sun had gone down and Kyle had curbed his alcohol intake long enough ago that he could drive us south of Boston where we were spending the night.

What a day it was . . . sun up to sun down at Myopia Hunt Club is one of the great days I’ve had in golf. Hans had warned us in advance that we would be playing Myopia with a real character and that we should be prepared to have a really good time with him. As we drove out of the club Kyle and I decided that in the fun and good golf departments Hank had absolutely lived up to his billing.

After spending a solid 13+ hours at Myopia Hunt Club I think I can say with no uncertainty that I loved the place. The course is a lot of fun and very playable for all skill levels. Currently Myopia is on the Golf Magazine Top 100 list, but not on the Golf Digest Top 100 list which is, in my opinion, an egregious error. Yes, there are a few holes on the course that have become obsolete due to modern technology, but even these shorter holes are a still a solid test for the average golfer’s game. Myopia Hunt Club may not be suitable for hosting a U.S. Open, but it is absolutely suitable for golfers who want to have fun, get some birdie opportunities and enjoy a collection of great golf holes in a fantastic setting. If you don’t like that, well, you just may not like golf. I hope to see this course get back on the Golf Digest Top 100 list were I believe it belongs.

  • Pingback: Top 100 Golf Odyssey E-Newsletter Vol. 14 « The Itinerant Golfer()

  • Pingback: U.S. Open Golf Courses « The Itinerant Golfer()

  • Lovely looking course and you are fortunate to have played it. I know next to nothing about the designer and it seems like he has done many courses.

    What’s odd is that I came here from a discussion forum. Apparently the forums owner was asked to take down the photos of Myopia. Obviously you haven’t been contacted yet but just a heads up!

    Look forward to following you bang off more of courses.

  • Brian Sheehy

    Everything about this place sounds perfect – looks a little like Eastward Ho from the pics…

    • The Itinerant Golfer

      Its one of my all time favorite places. It’s a shame its not ranked on the Golf Digest list.

  • Andy

    A great course. I had the pleasure of playing there in the fall with the leaves turning. Just a beautiful, classic course that provides great challenges and a variety of strategic plays of nearly every tee. Would that I could play it every week and enjoy the variety it offers.

  • Jeff Michaud

    I caddied at Myopia from 1962 to 1966. I have lots of memories from this course. Mondays were caddie day, so we were allowed to play the course in the early morning. I lived in North Beverly. My brother and I used to stand on the corner near our house and people going toward Hamilton would pick us up and drop us off at the main entrance. Our uniform consisted of a red ball cap with a yellow M and a red shirt and long pants-no shorts or jeans allowed and drivers recognized us as Myopia caddies. During the time I caddied, Robert “Brom” Bromberg was the caddie master and John Thoren was the club pro. Some changes were made to the course during the years I caddied there. The green on #3 was changed from a circular green to a narrow long green and a long front bunker was added. The pond on the left side of #6 was also dug out and added. There used to just be a creek crossing the fairway. My favorite hole was #9, especially on weekends because there was a drink shack on the right side of the pathway leading from #8 green to #9 tee. Most of the time the members would buy the caddies a drink. There was also a tray of crackers with brie cheese for snacks. A lot of the older members used to play the “Club Nine”, which consisted of holes 1, 2, 8, 9, 10, 11, “The Cutoff”, 15 and 16. The cutoff tee was behind the 11th green. Players hit over the trees to the 14th green and then played 15 and 16 to complete the Club Nine. I recently went home to Beverly for a family reunion, and I took my wife and granddaughter to see Myopia. One thing I noticed was that there was no longer a back entrance. There used to be a road that ran parallel to the left side of the 11th fairway , and went downhill towards the clubhouse. When I played the 11th hole I would sometimes drive the ball into that road. If you got lucky, the ball would roll down the road and end up very close to the green. I still cherish the days I caddied at Myopia. I still play golf, and taught both my sons the game, and both of them have single digit handicaps. Myopia is a unique course. I now live in North Carolina and have played many different courses, but none of them even comes close to the beauty and challenge of Myopia.

    • The Itinerant Golfer

      Great stories Jeff. Thanks for sharing!!!!

  • james

    Myopia is a true gem. I played in their Fourball and i can tell you that the greens are unforgiving and beautiful. To talk about driving and irons is nice, but it is just the beginning of the story at Myopia. A whole book could be written just about taking the correct approach to the greens ! A top 50 in anyone’s book.

  • Ian Hanley

    Top 5 in my book. One of the coolest and most unique golf experiences in golf. I play a few times a year here and can confirm that these are some of the best greens in the country. Stay below the hole at all costs