The Takeaway: An old school club with yesteryear architecture, Essex is a throw back in time in every aspect and feature. While the front nine features a couple of great holes, the back nine is what makes Essex elite in the Northeast. Grade A-
Designer: Donald Ross 1917 (original nine 1893)
Phone Number: 978-526-7311
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Essex County Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 153 School St, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts 01944 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: Essex County Club is one of the oldest courses in the country and one that preserves much of its history with an old school clubhouse, locker room, and course design. If lucky enough to get an invitation to play, even the green fee is paid by check which could be a problem for millennials that have never written one. As you might expect, players enjoy the course on foot with a caddie carrying their clubs while imparting years of wisdom of the history and design features of Essex. Some of that more recent history includes the removal of trees that has opened up views across the course and has exposed natural rock formations that deliver aesthetics and character that was previously hidden. Ultimately though, ECC is the tale of two nines with the front being relatively tame other than the fantastic 8th hole. What makes Essex special is the back nine that features some all-world holes highlighted by the opener and closer that wrap around opposite sides of a large rock hill to create a dramatic start and finish to the inward nine. The routing is beautifully crafted to take advantage of the natural terrain and provide a pleasant walk while also ensuring the holes run in a variety of different directions to provide the kind of variety that delivers lasting appeal to enjoy in a variety of wind or weather conditions. Uniquely, the course plays to a par 70 by offering two par fives on the front and none on the back. Turf conditions vary based on the amount of rain Mother Nature and how it is managed in the fairways, but the greens are always maintained at a quality level. In the end, Massachusetts is loaded with top tier courses and Essex is among them. If the front nine were as good as the back nine, it would make an argument as perhaps the best in the Bay State, but as-is, it is edged out by other offerings while still squeezing into the Top 100 in America.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 18th Hole – 417 Yard Par 4 –
Best Par 3: 11th Hole – 178 Yards –
Best Par 4: 8th Hole – 422 Yards –
Best Par 5: 3rd Hole – 623 Yards –
Birdie Time: 6th Hole – 335 Yard Par 4 –
Bogey Beware: 16th Hole – 453 Yard Par 4 –