Review: Newton Commonwealth Golf Course

Course Name: Newton Commonwealth Golf Course

Designer: Unknown (1897), Donald Ross (Redesign, 1920)

Location: Newton, Massachusetts

History: Founded in 1897 as the 9-hole Commonwealth Club, the course was expanded and redesigned by Donald Ross in 1920. It remained private Chestnut Hill Country Club until the 1970s, when financial problems forced it to go public. It is currently run by the city of Newton, just minutes from Boston.

Conditions: 6/10, Some of the tee boxes (like the first) are pretty torn up, but the course itself was in fair shape. The fairways are green and while not speedy, the greens roll true.

Value: 6/10, For a course near Boston, $20 after 5 P.M. isn’t a terrible deal. Newton residents get a discount and 18 holes is $32 to walk. This is a popular course amongst Boston College students, as they get a discount and can walk to the course.


Tee                     Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Blue                   70          5354               67.0               119

White                70          4992                65.3               116

Red                    70          4329                65.7               112

Hole Descriptions: I only played the front 9, but it was enough to get a feel for the course. This course plays longer than the scorecard indicates, as severe elevation changes come into play on many holes. Newton Commonwealth feels extremely cramped, and many holes run on top of each other.

The opening hole is an extremely short 277 yard straightforward par 4 with a torn up tee box, and no real danger other than a few bunkers near the green. The 2nd hole is a challenging hole long par 5 playing 533 yards. The teeshot is blind and water lines the right side of the fairway. A creek also crosses the fairway diagonally about 190 yards before an elevated green. The 3rd hole is another good Ross design. At 193 yards, a long iron is needed to carry a large bunker in front of this two-tiered green. Unfortunately, the 4th hole is a throw-away at 129 yards. Just a wedge is needed and you are teeing off a mat here. The 5th hole is a short par 5 with a severe right to left sloping fairway. Anything left is dead and the green has plenty of danger surrounding it. At 276 yards, the 6th hole is another very short par 4 with OB left and a cluster of bunkers on the left 200 yards from the tee. This green is incredibly long and narrow, and 100+ foot putts aren’t uncommon. The 7th hole is an extreme downhill par 3 that is framed quite beautifully by three bunkers in the front. The 8th hole is another short par 5 (488 yards) featuring an elevated tee box that forces you to drive over other holes.

View from the elevated 8th teebox

The 9th is another long downhill par 3 that’s 210 yards on the scorecard but plays much shorter. It’s a rather uneventful closing hole on a course full of dueling good and bad designs.

General Comments: It’s clear Newton Commonwealth is pressed for space. At just over 5300 yards, this course is extremely short and the only semblance of a range is a net by the first hole. The putting green is artificial, and offers no indication of how the actual greens are running. This course also played extremely slow, with a ton of hackers out there. As much as I love Donald Ross (and some of his holes here, #2, #3, #5), the space constraints should have kept this course a regulation 9-holer.

Verdict: While affordable and in decent shape, pace of play and the length of this course make it best suited for beginners.

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