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|The Ranch Golf Club opens with a 510-yard par-5 that plays even longer given the water to the left. (Ben Larsen/WorldGolf.com)|
SOUTHWICK, Mass. — If patience is crucial to a golfer's success, how does it impact a golf course?
Well, if The Ranch Golf Club is any indication, the impact is resounding.
After opening in 2001, one of the course's selling points was that it was "104 years in the making." If that's correct, time was especially kind to The Ranch and its beautiful, rolling fairways.
"My great grandfather, who owned the land, always thought it was a perfect spot for a golf course," said Steve Hall, one of The Ranch's four owners. "In the 1940's, Jeff Cornish picked the land as the best spot in the area when designing Crestview Country Club, which is now in Agawam. So with their two histories combined, The Ranch was a long time coming."
The course was built on a historic dairy farm in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. Using the natural meadows, woodlands, creeks and streams, course designer Damian Pascuzzo turned out a gem.
Littered with bent grass from tee to green and high fescue rough-areas that present a challenge all their own, the beauty of The Ranch lies within its unique layout unlike many New England courses.
Each hole at The Ranch was given a unique name. There's "Old Hickory," "Kellogg Brook," and "Crossings," to start the front nine. The back closes with "Overlook." But perhaps more specifically, each hole has its very own story - a rather difficult story for golfers of all handicaps. With each hole - and story - comes a different twist and turn and make-or-break shot. And in addition to the pristine conditions and top-notch service, that's what separates The Ranch from its counterparts.
It only seems fitting for The Ranch to have more than one signature hole. But with a pair of downhill par-5's that overlook a good chunk of the Pioneer Valley and East Mountain, there seems to be no reason to pick one over the other.
The ninth hole (Glacier) and 16th (Ski Hill) more than live up to their names. Both with spectacular views of New England at any point in the year, the two par-5's are long and downhill. A good drive will help you on the ninth but won't do much for you on the 578-yard 16th.
Long hitters can try for the green in two shots on the 540-yard 9th hole but must be careful of the marsh in front of the green. On the 16th, you're asked to carry a large pond that protects the green and a row of houses built in one of the course's many real estate phases. Both holes are a treat to play with a lot of forgiveness off the tee and interesting second and third shots.
A welcome quirk of The Ranch comes in its deceptive length. There are a number of long par-5 holes and the golf course plays nearly 7,200 yards from the back tees. Still, there are a few dogleg holes that allow players with a bit of local knowledge the chance of reaching the green off the tee.
For instance, the course opens with a 510-yard par-5 that plays even longer given the water to the left. The second hole - a 340-yard, dogleg-right, par-4 - gives players a chance at eagle, depending on where you aim off the tee.
In addition to the breathtaking views and quality conditions seen and played at The Ranch, the charm of the antique barns-turned-buildings separate The Ranch from the rest even more. Add in the quality customer service that starts at your vehicle and is seen throughout your round and The Ranch is a must-play for any serious golfer.
"It's the course's conditioning and what we do with the customers," Hall said. "We started marketing and planning in 1991 when the member-for-the-day concept hadn't become mainstream. Now, it's used everywhere but our goal is to provide it at such a high level and become the best club in Northern Connecticut or the Boston area."
For top-notch golf on a pristine course, go no further than The Ranch Golf Club. While the $110 weekend rate ($100 weekday/$70 twilight rate after 2:00 p.m.) is steep by local standards, the fee includes a GPS-enabled smart-cart and free use of the practice range. You also club valet service, shoe-shining, locker room facilities, beverage cart and a small army of spotters and rangers to help keep pace of play honest.
Springfield, Mass. is a 12 miles from The Ranch and has a number of great hotels and restaurants. Try the Sheraton Springfield, the Springfield Marriott or the Hilton Garden Inn, located next to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
June 23, 2008
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
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