Saturday, October 01, 2011

Boston Golf Club

1 Three Creek 521 10 Mae’s 412
2 Rushmore 418 11 Petrified 188
3 Redan 430 12 Gate 430
4 Wizard’s Cap 438 13 Knuckle Bucket 487
5 Shipwreck 317 14 Big Sky 443
6 Wild Turkey 165 15 Coyote Trail 560
7 Penniman Hill 460 16 Principal’s Nose 341
8 Bent Pine 232 17 American Chestnut 585
9 Geronimo 458 18 Stonewall 195

Par 5 #15 Coyote Trail

Here's a rare look at Boston Golf Club. The full course opened in 2005, it is a private, walking only artisan club with a golf course to match. The main buildings are smaller in total than many a country club member’s home in America and are masterpieces of fine art, not unlike the golf club. Hardwoods such as red oak, ash, walnut and cherry comprise the materials of the member’s locker room and pro shop as well as the main house, a very modest place for a sandwich and a drink. Very New England craftsman - very understated.

The golf course stands out in the world of today where words unique, superior, outstanding and special have lost their meaning and need superlatives to further qualify them when discussing cars, wine, hotels and of course golf courses. Boston Golf Course is. It is unique, a refuge for golf unlike the others. Gil Hanse with Jim Wagner, Bill Kittleman and Rodney Hine (who remained on as keeper of the green) defined the soul of Boston Club from its outset merely given the task of finding the best golf course there. Each devised a routing separately and in the course there are holes incorporated from each. On the site one has evocation of Colt, Mackenzie and Braid. There is a tie to Pine Valley, one to the Heathlands and to the ancient birthplace of the game in Scotland. There is a timelessness that belies the less than ten years of existence, it is all about the ancient game at Boston Club, rarely is the ground not in play. Bold shots, greens, bunkering, angles and cunning define much of the course. The smart player will gain his reward, conservative play often only delays the quality shot to be played and one is never enough.
Par 3 #18

There is a very special par 3 that ends the round and only three par 5’s to be found at the very beginning and then in the final four. All of the par 3 holes invoke a rare definitive strategic interest in their play from each day’s pinning. A par 4 beckons from the card at only the 300 yard mark where a par will usually win you a point and two seemingly perfect shots can merely break your heart. Other fours can require well over 200 yards for regulation play after your best drive.
Shipwreck #5 317 yds. Five Green

Glacial Moraine features define the astonishing topography which does not afford a level lie.
Rushmore #2 Par 4 418 yds

Redan Par 4 #3

Par 4 #4

Water is minimally in play as wetland areas, the driving zones are generous with a great variety in contour and short grass providing indecision for even the best players at the green complexes. The putting surfaces are such that during a recent five-ball with five single caddies virtually every putt was carefully studied by each of these experienced caddies There was always something to learn and further master. Large natural slopes are blended seamlessly with enhanced contours from the craftsmen who built this course to make putting a joy of experience and experimentation. Sometimes making a decision and waiting to see what happens is what you do.

Such is golf at Boston an adventure that is spiritual and addictive encouraging the emergency nine after the round is complete; that back to the first or tenth tee feeling is always there.

• Routing – Natural topography is simply stunning and the design team’s hand is rarely evident. Magnificent contours are everywhere on a landscape that constantly beckons. It is utilized for a walk that is up down and around a series of features that often surprise the golfer on the initial visit.

• Overall quality of individual holes are such that there are many different favorites and favorite stretches.
Par 3’s – 8 or 9-iron to possible fairway wood
Par Three #11

Par 4’s – Wide variety in length, shot demand and strategic flexibility
Par 5’s – Reachable? Sometimes - but not without risk at any time, fifteen the least so and seventeen perhaps the most accessible

• Cohesion of the course. There are two separate nines connected with a short ride from 9 to ten and to the first to start the round, but each can be walked.

• Green Complexes – Short grass that functions as green is a common design feature of links and classic courses and of the Hanse group's work. There is far more than the putting surfaces which range from the tiny 5th and 16th to the expansive second, eighth, eleventh and fifteenth, but they are generally smaller than most modern courses.

#12 green enhanced to show contours

• Bunkering schema – Much native flora is to be found around and in the bunkers and shapes are natural. Hell’s third-acre separates the fifteenth and small pots are everywhere. The bunkers enhance the beauty of every hole.

• Conditioning – Fescue and bent grasses are of “take a divot home” quality.

• Appropriate Vegetation – This is New England Heathland. Parts of the course yielded the fantastic hardwoods that make up the buildings, lockers and furniture in the buildings. I dare you not to rub the wood in the locker room and bar.

• Ideally - A challenge for the talented player, creation of joy for the less-talented one is achieved and the forward tees allow flexibility, but as with all courses of great quality the absolute beginner is relegated to St. Andrew’s Old Course.

• The rest of the Club - easy does it. This IS a proper locker room.
Museum-Quality Locker Room
The bar, place to eat and the rest is a modern museum of woodworking. 20 different whiskys and ten gins? No, not yet.

• Milieu – Perhaps the most astonishing and vexing thing about Boston is that it is 20 miles from Bunker Hill yet one feels as though they are off in the Outlands of Maine. No 4-6 hour flight followed by a 200 mile drive to “get away”.

Well, I am certainly as big a fan of Boston as anyone. For all the great quality the Boston Club possesses, I defer to a gentleman I greatly respect, one not given to hyperbole, one who grew up in the finest courses that this country has. Recently he told Rodney the superintendent and myself that “Boston Golf was likely the finest inland course that I have ever seen”. I personally cannot wait for my next round. Astute readers will note that I gave ***.

more photos forthcoming.

Here's the crew except Jim Wagner with an interloper back in May, 2000

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