One of the best parts of this job is the chance to find hidden treasures. Not the kind that have gold and silver, but the ones that are green. Bungay Brook Golf Club in Bellingham, Mass. is one of these treasures. It is a scenic, well-kept links-style course that opened in 2002.
“We wanted to have all the amenities of a private club for public golfers,” said Marc Gareau, golf manager and one of the many Gareaus who work at the club. “My mom and dad, Emile and Therese Gareau, purchased the farm in 1949 and it was first a dairy farm and then a vegetable and flower farm over the years,” said Marc.
“My mom still lives in the house at the head of the property and my brother Phil is the greens chairman and my sister, Therese Barry, is the business manager. Brothers and nephews also work in maintenance on the property. The family decided to end their farming career, but did not want to parcel off the land for houses, so they decided to go into the golf business.
They did it right! They hired Howard Maurer Design Group to design the 3,100 yard nine-hole course. Mauser had worked for Cornish, Mungeum, and Silva and is a disciple of Donald Ross. You can see some Ross elements of risk/reward and elevated greens that slope back to front throughout the course. The Gareau’s also hired Country Golf of Michigan to shape the course. The internationally known company was in New England to do renovation work at Salem Country Club for the Senior Open and also did work at Newport, Brae Burn and Charles River Country Clubs. “Jerry Deemer and his staff did a wonderful job moving land and building sand traps,” commented Gareau.
The mounding separates the fairways and gives a true links feel to the course. There are not many trees on the property; remember it was a farm. The Bungay Brook runs along the south side of the property, but it does not come into play on any holes. There is a large irrigation pond to the left of the ninth green that definitely catches errant shots.
The highlight of the course are the two par 5’s (numbers 4 and 7) that share the same green. Don’t worry about being next to golfers on the other hole because the green is over 12,000 square feet. What the holes do share is a bunker complex that is over 16,000 square feet. Try to avoid this on your approach to the green. The most difficult hole is the long par 4 sixth. “We call that hole the ‘Bear’ because it is so difficult,” said Gareau.
The Gareau’s did not scrimp when hiring staff. James Cook, a Class A PGA professional is the head professional and he has a 300-yard driving range to give lessons. Cook is a native of Franklin who had been working in North Carolina for the past 12 years before returning to Franklin and working at Bungay Brook.
The course superintendent is Patrick Sullivan who is a member of the Mass./Cape Cod Superintendents’ Assn. and a graduate of the famed UMass Stockbridge Agricultural School. “We have bentgrass tees, fairways and greens with L93 bentgrass on the greens,” said Sullivan who was busy pruning a tree the day I toured the course.
The course has already received rave reviews from raters and writers. It was recently sloped at 120 by the MGA from the back tees. There are four sets of tees on every hole to fit the ability of every golfer. They even have a snack bar and rest room out on the course, a nice touch.
The course is easy to get to. Take Route 495 to King St. in Franklin. Go south four miles to Locust St. and take a left. The course is up on the right. You can also get to the course from Routes 114 and 122 in Cumberland. Take West Wrentham Rd. to Jenks St., take a left to the end, another left and a quick right onto Locust St. You will be glad you tried it. You can make tee times by calling the course at 508-883-1600.