Course Name: Blackstone National Golf Club
Designer: Rees Jones/Keith Evans (2000)
Location: Sutton, Massachusetts
History: Located between Worcester and Providence, Blackstone National opened in 2000. Architect Rees Jones personally chose the property for the design.
Conditions: 7/10, The conditioning at Blackstone National is above average for local public courses, with well-manicured bentgrass teeboxes and fairways and some of the thickest rough I’ve ever had the misfortune of playing. When I played in mid-May, the greens were still recovering from a tough winter and were slow and bumpy.
Value: 5/10, Ranging from $43 to walk on a weekday to $80 to ride on a weekend, Blackstone National offers competitive but not tremendous value. I will note that you’re allowed to walk on weekdays (unlike weekends), but the course was not built for walking.
Tee Par Yardage Rating Slope
Black 72 6909 74.6 139
Blue 72 6655 73.5 134
White 72 6396 71.8 128
Green 72 5804 69.3 124
Red 72 5203 71.8 129
Hole Descriptions: The “U.S. Open Doctor” Rees Jones has received his fair share of criticism over the years, and for the most part, I agree with the critics. Prior to Blackstone National, I had played two of his original designs – Lake of Isles and Pinehills. While both are fine upscale courses, nothing about the two left me begging for more, as I found them too monotonous with forest-lined holes over forced carries and unimaginative greens complexes. Rees Jones himself chose the property at Blackstone National, so it’s not surprising that it too falls into similar pitfalls. Nothing about the course is truly offensive and it certainly has its moments, but overall I find it far too banal to require repeat visits.
Like most of Jones’ courses, Blackstone National is demanding tee-to-green, but the 1st hole is quite easy, providing golfers an early chance to get under par. At just 331 yards, this downhill dogleg left par 4 is reachable for long hitters, but there’s plenty of room short right for those who chose to lay-up. The left side of this hole is filled with fescue and bunkers and should be avoided at all costs. This green features a hump running horizontally and a bunkers on the left.
The 2nd hole is not as easy as a long, narrow 575 yard par 5. This mammoth hole bends to the left and any miss off the tee will likely never be found. A giant bunker at the corner of the dogleg further compounds the difficulty. From here, your second shot will be blind to a plateau in the fairway, but anything hit straight should be fine. The approach here runs back downhill to a green guarded by bunkers short left.
After a bridge over a swamp, the 154 yard par 3 3rd awaits. This is a cute little hole with a carry over a swamp and deep bunker on the right and a bunker on the left.
The par 4 4th is officially 393 yards, but plays much longer with one of the most severe uphill gradients I’ve ever played. Even with a wide fairway, this teeshot is still intimidating as you look up the mountain in front of you. A bunker on the right starting around 200 yards is the only real danger until the green, which falls off hard on the right with a steep grass bunker.
What comes up must come down with the beautiful 348 yard downhill 5th. I actually really enjoyed this hole, as it offers some great views of the surrounding forest and also features some great strategic bunkering as you near the green – a crossbunker on the right at 230 yards and one on the left at 295 yards. I personally don’t think the reward is worth the risk, but longer hitters can certainly reach this green with driver.
At 390 yards, the semi-blind straightaway 6th is a rather uneventful par 4 with mounds lining both sides of this fairway. Two straight shots here and this becomes another good birdie hole.
I also enjoyed the 7th, a strong uphill 196 yard par 3 to a devilish green that slopes back-to-front and left-to-right. Bunkers and a steep hill short right make this hole a perfect candidate for a reverse redan setup, but unfortunately the green is not as severe as it could be.
General Comments: The practice facilities at Blackstone National comprise of a grass range and large, sloping practice green. Pace of play was decent but not great when I played.