The owners and operators of Red Tail Golf Club in Devens, Ma. always knew what a special course they had.
Now the rest of the country will get a look at this wonderful daily fee layout as the United States Golf Association brings its U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship to the club June 22-27.
There’s a genuine buzz at the club, which has been named by national golf publications as the best daily fee facility in the state and one of the top 50 public courses in the U.S.
Although Red Tail didn’t really need validation as being a great golf course, the club was thrilled that it was selected to host the national event.
“We always felt like we had a club and course that could host a major championship,” said Jim Pavlik, general manager and director of golf. “Five years ago we sent a letter to the USGA and invited them to visit in order to consider the possibility of hosting a championship here. We got letter back saying they would visit with the intent of possibly holding their women’s public links event here. They came, played the course and really liked it. Two or three weeks later they accepted our invitation and we have been planning for the event ever since.”
In a tribute to the original design by Brian Silva and the work of superintendent Pat Lange and his staff, the USGA asked for only a few changes to the course, one being that a practice green be built near the 10th tee to allow players, who will be starting their rounds off both the 1st and 10th tees early in the tournament, to practice putting when teeing off on the back side.
“They also would like the rough to be a little longer for the tournament. But they were pleased that the course meets championship standards concerning heights of the fairways and green speeds,” said Pavlik, who has been at the past two Women’s Amateur Public Links Championships to learn the ropes of hosing a major tournament. He is serving as this year’s event co-chairman along with his wife, Nancy.
While the course needs little work, there is a lot to do to prepare for a major tournament. The Pavlik’s and other members of the leadership staff at Red Tail are busy arranging transportation, accommodations for players, staging ancillary events, such as two dinners for the players, and building a volunteer corps to man the event.
“Our players have been great about giving up their course for eight days (including two days of qualifying) and the community is chipping in financially,” said Jim Pavlik. “A big part of our theme here is giving back to the game and we feel having some of the best female players at our course is both thrilling and humbling.”
The course will play around 6,200 yards for the tournament with the ladies plating the fourth, sixth, eighth, 12th and 16th holes from the back markers. Twenty-two-year-old Tiffany Joh of San Diego, Ca. is the defending champion of the event. There is no admission charge to the tournament.
Red Tail will certainly challenge the 156-player field. The course flows over rolling wooded hills and meanders among numerous streams and ponds that will catch errant shots both off the tees and on approach shots to rather large and undulating greens. There are also numerous bunkers to confound players.
One of the most photographed holes is the 171-yard par-three third. A massive bunker fronts the green and there are two smaller bunkers near the putting surface. The classic, 426-yard par-four 17th has a ribbon of fairway amid a sea of sand and is nicknamed (“Bunkers”) after ammunition storage bunkers, several of which can still be seen well to the right of the green.
Red Tail welcomes players to come and visit prior to and after the JSGA event to test this one-of-kind layout.
“We really need volunteers for the tournament,” said Jim Pavlik. “People can find forms on our web page.”