George Wright Golf Course:
P-and-P Ranking 4 out of 5
Sometimes the best places to play are not the most obvious. The George Wright Golf Course is one of those courses in the heart of the city that delivers time and again. It is located in Hyde Park, MA, a western Boston neighborhood. Whats great about this course is the terrific design and better than average conditions. Inner city courses are not usually known to have the best conditions but this is one of the exceptions. The course was designed by none other then Donald Ross, one of the most famous golf architects in history. You can see the difference a good architect makes in this stunning design. It is not a long course ( 6440 yds. from the blue tees), but it plays a lot longer than that due to the layout of the course. There are numerous blind shots, holes playing uphill to a severely elevated green, false fronts and other tricks that make the player choose the right club for a successful shot. Penalties can be severe on this course as well. Most of the holes sport some degree of trouble if you don’t hit the fairway. One thing that continually astounds me is that I find myself saying to myself that it is not that hard, yet almost every time I play, I struggle to record a decent score. You must be accurate here of the tee otherwise you will end up on gravel or hard pan dirt a short distance from the fairway. If you are like me, then you want to be challenged on the course. I do not enjoy overly easy courses because I can score there. It makes me feel like I cheated in a way. I want to play courses that are difficult so that I can get better and have something to strive for. These attributes make George Wright an enjoyable and challenging place to play in my opinion.
First lets look at the facilities:
There is plenty of parking in the lot but there is a little walk up the hill with your bag unless you utilize the bag drop area. The clubhouse at George Wright is like a time capsule. This course was built in 1938 and when you walk into the clubhouse, it appears you have stepped back in time. It is a giant brick structure that has seen little or no remodeling since it was built. There are old signs and pictures that help convey the age of this place. They have a function area or ball room as it is labeled but it is small and not ornate at all. The concession area is at the end of the building and has some televisions and tables for eating. The food is pretty good and it has a decent atmosphere. There is also a makeshift grill area between holes 9 & 10 (burgers and dogs) that is placed at the right spot. Most of our group They have a pro shop, but it is small has only a few items for sale. It is not very extensive. The staff is friendly and I have had a good experience here most times over the years. The course has a large putting green that is not far from the 1st tee and behind the 18th green. You are allowed to chip here as well but it is not an overly large area. There is no practice bunker or driving range. There is always a starter at the first tee and it is organized fairly well. The price was also right at $59.00 with a cart. Theres nothing I hate more than to pay a premium for a less than stellar course. This is the opposite, a very good course with good conditions for a reasonable price.
Next lets look with the course statistics:
The course itself is rated average in slope and course rating. Overall a pretty short course at 6440 from the blue tees. As mentioned above, the course plays longer than the yardage indicates. It is a very challenging course. Whats amazing is that when you view the course it appears rather benign, but your score rarely reflects this. In my opinion, this course would favor the player whose strength is accuracy even if they are short hitters. Long hitters that spray a bit are going to really have a hard time here.
Next lets look at the course itself:
This course is one of my favorites. I find it challenging but not so hard that I never want to come back. Lets look at the course and give some examples of why this is such a well designed course:
Many holes have trouble right off the fairway. There times even when on the fairway, the player has a difficult shot to make. For example, on the 5th hole, the player, even with a perfect tee shot, is facing a blind shot to the green. On the 6th hole, a shot to the right side of the fairway may have no angle to the green. The 7th hole also features a blind approach from a perfect tee shot. On the 8th hole, a par 3, a shot landing 5 yards left of the green falls down a steep bank and is difficult to find, slightly long is gone and would most likely require a 2nd tee shot. These are just examples but almost every hole has steep penalties for errant shots. Many courses offer forgiveness off the tee. Maybe you go left but you can chip back on to the fairway or just play it over a tree to the green. George Wright penalizes the player severely for these missteps. It isn’t that the shots themselves are so difficult but the layout forces the player to overcorrect to avoid the obvious hazards. I played here very recently and I found myself falling into this very trap. On hole 13 there is a pond on the left all the way down the fairway and woods up on a steep hill on the right. The fairway is very narrow and from the blues plays 390 yards. Because of the water on the left, I over corrected and put my tee shot on the hill on the right. I found the ball but I had to chip down back to the fairway. My approach is to an elevated green with a false front. With a little nervousness, because I am now hitting shot 3, I landed 5 yards left of the green in thick rough. This is the type of penalty you face on almost every hole. Errant tee shot due to layout, very tricky green to hit, and somehow even though hit you the ball solid, you end up with a bogey or worse.
George Wright hole #13
I would say there are no more than 5 or 6 forgiving holes on this Ross masterpiece. To me the mark of a well designed course is when a player hits the ball well but still struggles to score their average regardless of the slope, rating, and yardage. There are short holes than can frustrate long hitters, par 3’s than can test even the most accurate players, and greens that will ensure that you concentrate while putting. It is a good idea to ride a cart here as the elevation changes from hole to hole can be severe. It appears the designer took the topology of the land the way it was and built the course around it without changing the natural lay of the land.
The greens here are on the smallish side compared to newer courses. I find that a lot of the old time courses fall into this category. The courses that were built in the 20’s, 30’s, & & 40’s almost always have postage stamp sized greens. Small greens doesn’t mean bad greens though. These are in very nice condition and have subtle breaks that make reading these difficult at times. There are also several greens that have false fronts, or are narrowly positioned with the length from left to right, making approach shots difficult. Shorter courses, small greens, blind shots, and great design. This is the hallmark of Donald Ross design and other courses of this era.
The conditions at George Wright Golf Course are equally impressive when you consider the amount of play this course gets on a weekly basis. It is rare to see less than 2 or 3 groups on the 1st tee waiting to play. As an inner city course in a densely populated metropolitan area, the course popularity is extremely high. There are a few spots here where the conditions could be better but overall, the greens are excellent and the tee boxes are flat and manicured. It is hard to play courses where the tee boxes are not kept up or have not been leveled. The course upkeep here is one reason why I continue to visit this place multiple times every year.
If I had to find a negative here it would be the pace of play. As I mentioned, this course gets a lot of play and can back up at times. There are Rangers out there but even so, expect a 4.5 – 5 hour round on the weekend. Normally, this is not a deal breaker for me but there are times when you are in a groove, where waiting can throw off your game.
Pros and Cons
Pros: convenient location, great layout that will challenge most players, good value for the price, good conditions, The feeling you just found a gem to play
Cons: can be hard to get a tee time before 2 pm on the weekend, play can be slow.
George Wright Golf Course gets a P-and-P Rank of 4 stars out of 5 due to value, course design, and course conditions. If you get a chance to play George Wright, take it. I think other than a few holes, the majority are winners and you will be glad you did.