Massachusetts has a number of superb top tier layouts – many congregated in and around the Boston metro area. But I can say without any hesitation or reservation that those fortunate to play Eastward Ho! will reap a golf experience of the highest order. The course is blessed with first rate terrain – heaving and moving about so that golfers must by necessity adjust to both the lie and the wind pattern of the day. Those who have grown accustomed to flat and predictable fairways had best be forewarned when coming to the course because shotmaking dexterity is a prerequisite to success.
Herbert Fowler did a stellar job in creating the layout but it's the work of architect Keith Foster who is to be saluted for a sensational restoration completed in 2004.
One of the elements I often consider when reviewing a golf course is whether the blood was stirred – the emotions front and center. Being at Eastward Ho! does just that. You relish the varying holes and conditions. The penalties are commensurate with your skill level – or lack thereof. Fun golf – not the slavish devotion to inane difficulty – is what makes the course so appealing. Eastward Ho! is not a long course – but the wind will have you gritting one's teeth when facing a 3-4 club headwind or even more challenging crosswinds.
When you reach the long par-4 18th hole – you play one of the fine closing holes in the game. The fairway reminds me of an ocean on a stormy day – and as you come around the corner you see the clubhouse perched on the hillside with the green just below. Be ever mindful of the menacing false front that is quick to grab the half-hearted approach.
The Cape Cod area has long been a draw for vacationers and the enchanting views of the Chatham area along the coastline are mesmerizing on a sunny day. Eastward Ho! is a powerful statement that golf need not be the banal cookie-cutter assembly line variety of designs that dot the landscape. The memories of one's time here are indelible.
by M. James Ward
Date: September 25, 2017