Dancing along the Cape
The Highland Links lighthouse in Truro, Mass.
Folks travel to Cape Cod for a variety of reasons. Some seek sand and water at the beach, while others come for antiquing and art. A great many have culinary pursuits in mind, chasing delectable seafood as close to the ocean as it comes. A fair number of visitors have sports at the forefront; they might be the spectators of the wooden-bats baseball league or the countless duffers that make their way to the golf courses that line the promontory from Falmouth to Truro. As long as they are privy to “the secret,” their stay along the 65 miles of cape land is guaranteed to be an enjoyable success.
There are a number of ways to access the Cape from the mainland. For those headed to Falmouth and the south, the Bourne bridge takes you around the military land. All whose destination lies along the north shore should use the Sagamore bridge. In addition to its quaint narrowness, the Sagamore introduces you to “the secret,” otherwise known as Route 6, also called the Mid-Cape highway. If your wish is to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, you’ll live on Route 6 during your stay. If you don’t mind meandering and waiting a bit, use the minor roads.
My first trips to the Cape took place over 40 years ago, when I was but a child. We made it as far as Provincetown, although I don’t remember any of the places we visited nor the stories my parents tell. I had the opportunity to renew acquaintances with the grand sandy jetty last summer, ostensibly to play and review golf courses. I did make every effort to traipse around a bit when not on the links, though, so I have a sense of the wonders that await.
As a child, baseball was my first love. The sound of the crack of the ball against bat made an impact on me, and only a pitching injury would take the game from me. I suspect that I would have dreamed of playing in the Cape Cod baseball league, known colloquially as the Wooden Bats league. Each summer, the finest professional prospects leave their metal bats at home and arrive on the cape with wooden sticks in tow. Ten teams, with names like the Harwich Mariners, Chatham Anglers, Wareham Gateman and Falmouth Commodores, serve as competitive homes to these splinters as they hone their skills with ball, bat and glove. A typical season lasts 44 games, with all-star game and playoffs rounding out the schedule.
Cape Cod is home to one of the most unique golf courses on the eastern seaboard. Highland Links, in Truro, is one of the few courses east of the Mississippi river that can truly claim linksland as a base. The sand soil found there ensures that rain or shine, the course will play fast and firm. The pity is that Highland Links is only nine holes and, truth be told, plays the same, regardless of the tee decks you choose. In the middle of the course, however, lies the Highland Museum and Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse on the cape. If you climb the steps, the entire course spreads out before you. Originally located 100 feet from the ocean, the lighthouse was moved to its present location in 1996, to ensure its safety. On a local note, the International Chimney Company of Buffalo lifted the 430-ton structure, bringing it nearly 500 feet farther inland.
My chassis took me all the way to the end of the cape, to Provincetown. On a whim, I decided to explore the beautiful, colonial town, to see if any childhood candles of memory might be lighted. Alas, it was not to be. Given the chance, I’d return to walk the hilly streets and explore the shops and restaurants of the town. On my way back to the central cape, I stopped at the Truro vineyards for some fine wine and at Wellfleet to see another seductive, seaside New England town.
I could wax eternal on the golfing opportunities along the cape. There are more than 30 public-access courses and another 10 private-club layouts. If you have the cash, you may play the former; if you have the connections, you’ll access the later. Bass River (Yarmouth), Cranberry Valley (Harwich) and the aforementioned Highland Links were memorable among the ones I played this trip. Since another 35 courses await, I imagine I’ll head back to the Cape in the near future.
I’ll confess one peccato: I skipped my final round of golf to stop by a hole-in-the-wall shanty and devour two lobsters. I’ve been partial to the ocean bug since my younger days. Cape Cod didn’t disappoint and I left knowing that I’d preserved at least one great memory from my youth. Thanks, Mom.
Ronald Montesano writes about golf and travel for Forever Young and Buffalo Spree.