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American Society of Landscape Architects

 

January 2005 Issue

Garbage In, Golf Out
Former landfills near Boston become 27 holes of golf.

By George Hazelrigg


Art Ciccone

Just seven miles south of downtown Boston, a new 27-hole championship golf course nears completion. Nine holes opened in 2003, nine more were put in play last year, and the final nine are scheduled to open later this year. The semiprivate Granite Links Golf Course is the centerpiece of the Quarry Hills Recreational Complex, a development that includes four Little League baseball fields, two soccer fields, rock-climbing sites, and hiking trails spreading over 484 acres in the city of Quincy, Massachusetts, and the adjacent town of Milton. It's been a 13-year journey so far, at a cost of more than $110 million.

The golf course and other features incorporate abandoned granite quarries, wetlands, and wooded archaeological sites. But perhaps more significant from an ecological perspective is the fact that about half of Quarry Hills-close to 250 acres-is built atop several large landfills containing municipal solid waste, construction debris, and some industrial and hazardous waste.

The golf course incorporates Quarry Hills' two largest landfills, 130 acres and 80 acres, respectively. As a result, several holes are played over considerable elevation changes-60 feet for one par-4 and 90 feet for a par-5—and some holes are played on terraces constructed on landfill slopes atop 100 feet of fill. There is so much diversity in surface features, however, that any distinctions between former landfills and natural terrain are blurred. The course offers broad green bentgrass fairways framed by waving fescue, no two holes similar, and four sets of tees accommodating different skill levels. Ultra-white sand bunkers add a modern accent. The vistas are excellent. To the north and east, Boston's skyline, harbor, and coastline define the horizon, and the 7,000-acre Blue Hills Reservation, Massachusetts's largest urban parkland, stretches out to the west.

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