Red Tail Golf Club, Devens, MA
Thirty-five miles west of Boston, Red Tail is a schizophrenic in a tuxedo—suave as hell, utterly unpredictable. It's pure links: tight lies, Rossian bailouts, vast greens. No, it's Carolina, with pine-lined fairways that wind around an array of sandpits. Actually, it's a plush New England parkland with dizzying ups and downs. Wait, is this Florida?The eighteenth sure recalls Bay Hill's closer, though mercifully as a par five. Defining this mercurial Brian Silva design is maddening, but playing it is a treat. And while walking Red Tail is near impossible, I rode with a guy who shot a net 120 and still got around in 3:55.
Yardage/Par: 7,006/72. Greens Fees: $60-$80. Tee Times: 978-772-3273 or visit redtailgolf.net.
Pinehurst No. 7, Pinehurst, NC
Since its 1986 opening, No. 7 has been tagged as the members' course: pretty, but innocuous enough to keep the homeowners happy. Rees Jones returned last year to give his baby some teeth. It still plays more resortlike than Nos. 2, 4 and 8, but added length, more-influential fairway bunkers and toughened green complexes have indeed provided bite. Funny thing is, the members seem pleased—I played with three who pointed with pride to Jones's new hurdles. Pinehurst's pecking order hasn't changed, but No. 7 should now attract its share of guests, too.
Yardage/Par: 7,216/72. Greens Fee: $235. Tee Times: 910-235-8540 or visit pinehurst.com.
Ravenwood Golf Club, Victor, NY
Californian designer Robin Nelson is best known among architecture wonks for the vast body of mostly excellent work he's done in Hawaii. His first effort in the Northeast is built on a strong piece of rolling land and has a classic, consistent feel throughout. That cuts both ways: There's great continuity—your round just flows right along—but when it's over you'll likely be unable to recall every hole. The best aspect of Ravenwood is its nice mix of short and long par fours, led by the remarkable 447-yard fifth, sporting a green that appears perched in the sky. Easily walked and an excellent value, Ravenwood has already been tapped to host the New York State Amateur; it's well worth seeking out if you're in town for the 2003 PGA Championship at nearby Oak Hill.
Yardage/Par: 7,003/72. Greens Fees: $32-$52. Tee Times: 585-924-5100 or visit ravenwoodgolf.com.