New England Golf Magazine Reviews Granite Links
Granite Links Golf Club
QUINCY - Your powerful drive splits the spectacular, downhill treeless fairway of the first hole at Granite Links Golf Club at Quarry Hills. Energized by the majestic view of the Boston skyline to the north, Boston harbor to the east and 7,000 glorious acres of Blue Hills Reservation to the west, your day on the sacred soil of this John Sanford-designed golf course will be a memorable experience.
Just seven miles south of Boston and carved around 250 acres that include several abandoned granite quarries, Granite Links Golf Club is situated around a 300-foot hill straddling the Quincy/Milton border. The most commonly used word at this semi-private course, measuring 6,818-yards from the tips, with a par of 72, is not “fore” but “wow” since on a clear day, there are picture-perfect-postcard scenes in every direction.
There is an unusual story to tell about this course and the 13-year journey that took to develop this unique piece of real estate, and the hefty $130 million price tag. That is not a typo, it took $130 million to create, and it all began in 1992. In fact, there wouldn’t be Granite Links if there hadn’t first been a $15.6 billion Central Artery/Tunnel project, which broke ground 17 years ago, more commonly referred to as the Big Dig.
“It’s been a long process but we are happy about how the golf course turned out,” explained general manager and limited partner Walter Hannon III. “Now that our clubhouse is open to the public, we are fully functional, offering weddings, banquets, dinner parties and much more. Of course, we are especially proud of the 27 holes of golf available to the public and to our members. We have about 300 members, ranging from corporate, individual and family options. An annual membership is in the $4,500 range and tee times for the public can be made with a four-day notice, with members allowed to book up to two weeks in advance.”
In this historic city, where four presidents were born - John Adams, John Quincy Adams, John F. Kennedy and George Herbert Walker Bush – more than 11 million cubic yards of dirt from the Big Dig project was trucked in to fill in the city landfill site and quarries. For three and one-half years, six days a week, about 1,000 truckloads were dropped at the site. For this, developer Bill O’Connell, Charles Gielich and Quarry Hills Associates (QHA) received $100 million.
After QHA spent $130 million over fifteen years to build Granite Links, the final product is a gem of a golf course, with an impressive 43,000 square foot clubhouse, tavern and function facility. What was once an exciting buzz has turned into a financial buzz-saw for principal owners Bill and Peter O’Connell, who more than 20 years ago developed the phenomenally profitable condominium and shopping complex of Marina Bay, a few miles away on Quincy Bay.
“One the strongest features of this course is the variety and quality of the holes,” said head pro Chris Sleeper. “We are frequently complimented on the condition of the greens, which average about 5,500 square feet. And, most players like the fact that John Sanford has designed almost three distinct levels on a majority of the greens. The USGA came here recently and told us we had more choices to put hole locations than any course they had inspected in recent memory. We took that as a compliment and depending on which way the wind is blowing, the course can play quite differently every day.”
The 2008 rates at Granite Links are not cheap. For a one-time fee of $28,000 you can become a member and enjoy full playing privileges that include a lighted driving range, short-game practice area, state-of-the-art GPS carts, pro shop and spacious members-only grill room and dining area. The public golfer will pay $125 greens fees Thursday through Sunday and holidays.
On a daily basis making sure everything is running smoothly, which includes 80-hour work weeks, former Rhode Island State Amateur Champion Stan Abrams (1972, 1975) is President of Granite Links Management Company. The Providence-born-and-bred Abrams captained the 1964 Harvard golf team and also owned a successful business called the Senior Tour Partners.
“We want players of all abilities to enjoy the game and get great pleasure from their experience here,” said Abrams, who still has a decent game, and warns first-time players that some target golf is in the mix. “We feel confident that members and guests of Granite Links will be challenged and will enjoy the incredible 360-degree views.”
New nine holes opened in 2007, called the Quincy nine, and it will compliment the Milton and Granite nines. Every summer the course hosts the Women’s Senior Golf Tour that was won this year by the team of Cindy Figg-Currier and Sherri Turner, over defending champions Nancy Scranton and Christa Johnson.
Whether you have a passion for golf or are content with a cocktail or dinner from The Tavern at Quarry Hills, there’s always a magnificent view from the Granite Links parking lot, which is a one-mile, uphill climb up Ricciutti Drive. Golf Digest recently called The Tavern one of the fifty “best 19th holes in the country.” From the first gleaming rays of the morning sun rising up from the Atlantic Ocean on the east, to the evening sun spectacularly lowering over the horizon of the Blue Hills on the west, a day at Granite Links Golf Club at Quarry Hills creates memories like no other golf course in New England. www.granitelinksgolfclub.com
Tom Gorman, a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, the Golf Travel Writer’s of America and the International Network of Golf, is a Boston-based freelance golf writer.