Rees Jones has been lauded far and wide for his ability to create challenging yet playable golf courses that leave lasting memories in the minds of all who play there.
One of his best works in the Northeast can be found in the wooded countryside of the Blackstone Valley area of southwestern Massachusetts, not far from Worcester and Boston.
Blackstone National Golf Club in Sutton is an aesthetically beautiful track that winds easily over a hilly landscape, through mature forests, and past old stonewalls. When one plays this special course, he or she can feel truly at one with a nature and alone with playing partners, as each hole was designed to be separate from the others.
While there are some forced carries at Blackstone National, Jones incorporated large fairways into the layout, which allows mid- and even high-handicappers to enjoy the experience. The ample fairways allow a player to stay in the hole even after a less than perfect tee shot. There is ample bunkering guarding medium sized greens, making it important to choose the proper club to find the target.
Some of the best holes at Blackstone National, which can stretch to almost 7,000 yards from the tips and plays to a par of 72, are the par-threes. One of the most stunning is the 173-yard 11th, which demands a tee shot over a small pond.
But the par-fours are also very good, as evidenced by the mammoth 486-yard 15th, which bends to the left after a large ridge that cuts across the fairway. If you hit your tee shot to the right side of the fairway, the ball will tumble down the hill and shorten the hole by 50 to 100 yards. The drop from tee to green is almost 80 feet, creating a magnificent view from the tee box.
The 18th at Blackstone National is a superb finishing hole. It’s only 485 yards from the tips, but the par-five is loaded with all kinds of trouble if you wander. The tee shot must be true to find a landing area protected by wetlands and woods. Big hitters can reach the putting surface in two shots after a strong drive, but the approach is uphill and there are a number of deep bunkers guarding the putting surface. The smart play, especially if you have a good round going, is to lay up in front of the green and knock the ball onto the putting surface with a wedge.
There’s a little extra pressure as you finish your round on the 18th. A crowd usually gathers on the veranda hovering above the green to watch the groups come up to the clubhouse. Tradition has it that good shots are rewarded with cheers.
Blackstone National Golf Club