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.
Even a short hitter will be left with just a short wedge into the green.
The wedge shot is not to be taken too lightly as the green on this hole is exceptionally small.
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.
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.
Here is a little closer look. The green sits between the mounds and down below the fairway.
Below is a photo of the little cross bunker in the middle of the fairway about 100 yards out from the green.
And a close up view of the small green.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The slant is a little more visible in this photo taken from the 5th tee box looking back at the 4th green.
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.
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.
Here is a look at the bunker on the left side of the green which caused a little bit of trouble for Hank.
Below is the view back down the fairway from behind the green near the 6th tee.
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.
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.
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.
Below is a photo looking back down the 6th hole from the 8th fairway.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is a closer view also taken from the tee.
This view was taken walking up to the green.
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.
Hole 10 – Alps – 406 yards – par 4
The drive here is another one to a blind landing zone.
Below is a photo of the 10th green which is a typically small one fronted by a hazard.
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.
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.
Here is a closer look at the bunker that cuts diagonally across the fairway.
Below is the view of the 11th green from the 12th tee box.
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.
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.
Below is a closer look at the green which has a little bit of a crown look to it.
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.
The approach here is another uphill shot which again requires some consideration when selecting a 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.
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.
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.
The photo below was taken from the fairway where a third shot would quite possibly be hit from.
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.
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.
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.
Here is a little closer view of the buildings in the background.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.