Plymouth, Massachusetts Golf

The Pilgrims came ashore here in 1620 -- there's a famous rock to prove it -- and today colonial history comes alive along this bustling waterfront and tiny, quiet side streets. But while visitors have been busy discovering Plymouth's many historic attractions, the community has quietly asserted itself as one of New England's premier golf destinations.

Nicklaus course at PinehillsA watery grave guards the 5th green on the Nicklaus Course at Pinehills. L.C. Lambrecht

Located an hour's drive south of Boston and five miles north of Cape Cod Canal, Plymouth is the oldest town in Massachusetts and, at nearly 134 square miles, its largest municipality. Not only is land available for new development, the topography is ideally suited to the game. Scraped by glaciers during the last Ice Age, the terrain is generally sandy, pine-covered, and rolling. Trace the footsteps of the Pilgrims with the family between rounds -- or turn the weekend into a 72-hole golf orgy on some of the best new courses in the East. Either way, Plymouth has a way of taking on all comers. Just ask the Pilgrims.

Friday Summer days are long. Opt for a relaxing round on one of the area's short courses, like Southers Marsh, a charming 4,111-yard, par-61 track that plays over and around 100-year-old cranberry bogs and tall white pines. Want something full-scale? Have a lash at Atlantic Country Club, a well-groomed layout that's fair and friendly from the white tees. Or stop by Capt. John Boats for a narrated harbor cruise of the town and seaport.

Check in to Radisson Hotel Plymouth Harbor (see "The Deal"). Dinner at one of the seafood restaurants on Town Wharf -- Weathervane and the Lobster Hut are both good -- or hit Sam Diego's Mexican Eatery, in the town's former fire station. Good enchiladas, great margaritas.

Nicklaus course at PinehillsChoose your line with care on the par-3 8th at Waverly Oaks. Mike Klemme/Golfoto

Saturday Full breakfast at the All American Diner Cafe. Golf at Pinehills Golf Club (Jones Course), a brilliant 2-year-old spread by Rees Jones. Holes are routed around glacially formed ridges and kettles. Plateaued fairways lead to large, subtly contoured greens that spill off into closely mown hollows and deep bunkers. Thrilling, world-class back nine. Break for lunch in handsome, clapboard-shingle clubhouse. Work out the kinks at the club's practice facility, one of the finest in New England.

Play an afternoon round on the club's Nicklaus Course, a strong 7,243-yard test by Jack Nicklaus II that opened last year. Good mix of holes, ample driving areas, but approach shots must be accurate. Or tour Plymouth Plantation, a living history museum where costumed actors recreate the Pilgrim's 1627 settlement -- an eye-opener for those who take modern comforts for granted. Optional visit to the Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction of the Pilgrims' vessel anchored in the harbor.

Dine at Hearth & Kettle in the John Carver Inn followed by Colonial Lantern Tour of Plymouth's historic district and Burial Hill. Each tour participant carries a punched-tin lantern. Guides are informative and entertaining. Brave souls can sign up for the Ghostly Haunts & Legends Tour.

Sunday Breakfast at hotel. Play at Waverly Oaks Golf Club, a brawny, scenic layout by Brian Silva (1998) stretched across heaving terrain. The front nine is highlighted by back-to-back par 5s. The stronger back nine is marked by the epic par-3 17th, which emulates the famous 16th at Cypress Point. No Pacific Ocean here, but the bunkers cut below the green are nearly as deep. One of the most intimidating one-shotters in the East at 251 yards from the tips. The Waverly Grille serves up good chow.

Try your luck again on the championship test, or opt for a quick round on the Challenger 9, a 2,264-yard, par-33 version of the main course. Fun and walkable. Stock up on cranberry everything at Cranberry House, have a gander at Plymouth Rock, which is nestled under a seaside portico but is no bigger than a sack of potatoes, and head home.

The Deal [As of June 2003] Radisson Hotel Plymouth Harbor has rooms starting at $115 per person, per night, double occupancy through June 14. The rate increases to $135 from June 15 to October 18. 508-747-4900; www.radissonplymouth.com.

Prices and contacts for courses: Southers Marsh , $35 Friday to Sunday (508-830-3535; www.southersmarsh.com); Atlantic CC , $55 Friday to Sunday (508-759-6644; www.atlanticcountryclub.com); Pinehills , $95 Friday to Sunday; $75 1-3 p.m., $65 after (508-209-3000; www.pinehillsgolf.com); Waverly Oaks Championship Course , $85/Challenger 9, $22.50 (508-224-6700; www.waverlyoaksgolfclub.com).

For more area information, contact Plymouth County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 800-292-4145 or www.seeplymouth.com.

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