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Hills and thrills at Chatham Seaside Links

Chatham Seaside Links offers great views of Pleasant Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. (Moira McCarthy photo)

What if a round of golf could be completely chill: easy to book, quick to arrive and depart, casual but not run down and, above all, affordable?

And what if all these benefits come with a fun and challenging course setup, excellent service and even breathtaking ocean views?

Welcome to Chatham Seaside Links (, a hilly, comfortable, interesting and relaxing nine-hole community owned and managed golf course, smack in the middle of the Chatham Bars Inn estate. It is one of the Cape’s, if not the world’s, most sought after locations.

I signed up to play a quick nine holes on a beautiful spring Sunday after spending the weekend at the Inn and wanted to get a little golf fix.

From the start I could tell this place is loved. Our starter not only passed us a few minutes early, he pointed ahead and gave us tips for a few of the upcoming holes. Blind spots occur regularly on this super hilly course, a fun challenge that keeps you on your toes. Other players didn’t just wait to tee off; they noticed we were new and said hello.

The nine-hole par 34 course of over 2,249 yards (larger than an executive course but easily walkable and fast to play) has played much the same since its inception in 1893, making it one of the oldest courses on the Cape.

Steve, a local resident who volunteers to keep the site running smoothly, told me that apart from moving, removing and replacing sand traps, it has remained the same all these years.

That means some smaller greens, tricky traps and a bit of target golf here and there – in other words: fun.

I immediately liked the way the course played. CSL is super hilly; so hilly that you wonder if you are really on the Cape. That produces interesting gaps; those that provide motivating challenges. Can you drive it far enough to reach that hill? If so, an extra role is your reward.

Having two par 3 holes and the remaining par 4 holes gave me more opportunities to advance in regulation – and what’s wrong with an ego boost like that? You will find yourself saying “Fore!” hears (and screams). a little more than normal – there are quite a few blind spots. But every time I was confused, a golfer would notice and point me to where I should hit or sometimes – hide.

At the end of our first nine, my husband looked at me, pointed out how quickly our lap had gone and said, “Seems like a good place to try again.” We walked into the little clubhouse and they fitted us in and paired us up with Steve.

The second time, now equipped with familiarity and tips from Steve, we loved the atmosphere and the playing even more.

Once I understood the layout, I improved some holes and enjoyed some moments for the second time.

Like the sign at the third hole warning you to avoid the far left; there are people there who enjoy the Inn’s spa. The houses along the fairway are also fun to ogle: beautiful and classic Cape up close (but not too close; signs ask you not to look for balls on private property).

The real reward, however, comes at the tee box of the eighth hole, where the green fairway drops down and stretches out beneath you, Cape houses dot the land around you and right in front of you – wide open and beautiful – is Pleasant Bay, with the sparkling white sand of the beach on the east side and beyond it the deep blue Atlantic Ocean.

There is no on-site restaurant, but across the road is the Chatham Bars Inn, the perfect luxury Ying to the casual Yang of the round of golf. Or stroll about a mile away and enjoy one of Chatham’s many dining options.

At $22 for nine holes or $34 for 18, Chatham Seaside Links is the perfect golf solution for your Cape holiday or just to get started. Of course, it’s not Augusta National. But it is beautiful, accessible, affordable and super fun. What else is golf about?