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Boston Golf Club

Gil Hanse’s minimalist layout carved out of New England woodland is a fitting memorial to its visionary founder

By: Hunki Yun

Appeared in March 2008 LINKS

Boston Golf Club co-founder John Mineck was on site nearly every day during construction. He was always there after the course opened in 2005, making tweaks to fulfill his vision of a club that promotes fun, interesting golf in a natural setting. Last May, he was doing just that—working on a road on the grounds—when he died after the roller he was riding slid down an embankment.

Mineck, 54 when he died, didn’t just let others carry out his vision. He worked with the crew, climbing on machinery as needed. Members point out Mineck dug out the bunker behind the 13th green himself.

Despite getting his boots dirty, Mineck and his partner, Rob Ketterson, were smart enough to let Gil Hanse and associate Jim Wagner create a minimalist layout on a formidable site that consisted of undulating forested areas, wetlands and a quarry. While Hanse has received recent acclaim for his redesign of TPC Boston prior to last year’s Deutsche Bank Championship, Boston Golf Club may be his finest work.

A modern interpretation of heathland classics, the 7,020-yard layout features dramatic elevation changes, daunting green complexes and plenty of strategic options. One highlight is the stretch from the 5th to the 9th, which starts with an uphill 317-yarder that is only reachable for the longest hitters. While the fairway is wide, only skirting a large hazard guarding the right side affords approach shots any margin of error to this sliver of a green. A wedge from the left requires precise distance control—long or short by more than five yards will miss the green.

From the 9th tee, which sits 70 feet above the fairway, players watch drives that seemingly hang forever. Just as exhilarating as the tee shot is the walk down to the fairway, along a series of switchbacks minimally carved out of the wooded hillside. This rough-hewn character permeates throughout Boston Golf Club, where a trip around looks and feels as much an invigorating hike through a New England forest as a round of golf.

Of course, there are plenty of shot options to consider between walks. From the back tee of the 433-yard 12th, Hanse retained a stone wall that crosses the line of play. Drives must be played though a “gate” in the wall that acts as an aiming point on this blind tee shot.

The 589-yard 15th features a large cross bunker that also winds down the left side of the hole, guarding this semi-punchbowl green. There are numerous ways to play this hole, which has a large ridge in the lay-up area, and it is possible for a foursome to take completely different routes and never meet until the green.

In between shots, whether playing alone or with partners, the journey is an enjoyable one—just what Mineck had in mind. 

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