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... out of four GT Logos on the sliding GT Logo scale.

Blackstone National GC; Sutton, Massachusetts.  Reviewed September, 2012.

Thanks go outto the Tracker known as GT Duke for triangulating this Potential Interstate Tracking Mishap and putting it on the right track, so to speak.

Blackstone National Golf Course...:a course name that’s nothing short of impressive, awe-inspiring, or possibly, over the top…

We originally askedthe Tracker known as Ornery Bob if he wanted to round out our foursome.  While he declined to participate because he was previously committed to his employer’s corporate charity golf cash grab (otherwise known implicitly as “it’s part of my job, unless I want them crawling all over my ass”), he offered, “I’ve played there; it’s a nice non-Goat Track.”  Coming from Ornery Bob, that’s high praise.  Really high praise.  He can bitch about nearly anything, yet he gave Blackstone a pass.  Based on that endorsement, we were really excited.

It’s easy to get sucked in by the trappings of the BNGC setup.  As you pull into the parking lot, there’s a fully-staffed curbside bag drop.  After that, there’s a well-polished pro shop, where you start to feel like you’re about to embark on a world-class golfing experience.  Range balls are stacked in pyramid fashion for practice, etc.  We’re suckers for idiotic detail, so the scorpion bowl of perfectly-sharpened scorecard pencils, all arranged and pointed in a uniform fashion, was impressive; more like temporarily mesmerizing.

Course Management:  All in our group concurred; if you have a shotgun/scramble tournament that tees off at 8 a.m. (not sure how that happens; not our problem) and the first group you have booked to tee off after that is “scheduled” for 12:10, it’s either a delusional thought or clever marketing.  There’s no chance in hell that the 12:10 group goes off on time or anywhere near it.  Show me a foursome that tees off within 4 ½ hours of a shotgun start and I’ll show you a monkey flying out of my butt, paraphrasing Mike Myers from his SNL days.

Our delayed start allowed us to soak up some additional Blackstone National ambience near the starter’s gazebo and what a half hour it was…

“I hear the pipes a callin’.”  This was our first stateside experience of being ushered to the first tee by the sound of bagpipe music performed live for our listening enjoyment.  At first, some within earshot, but outside visual range of the bagpipe player, thought, “That’s not the ‘noon siren.’  What the hell’s up?”  As the Scots know, it’s a sound that reverberates.  Sherpa JB, who was probably the only one who could think clearly through the noise offered, “He really seems to know a lot of different tunes.  Glad to hear him mixing up the set list today.”  Of course, bagpipe noise is a great pace of play incentive, in that you want to get out of earshot as quickly as possible.

Course Layout

BNGC has its fair share of blind shots, which we were to expect after viewing the terrain from the starter’s shed for a solid half hour; however, one pearl of wisdom we can offer the BNGC newbie (learn from our mistakes) is that if you’re playing this course for the first time with others whom have not, this is a highly underrated opportunity to bring out the big dog and grip and rip off the 1st tee.  Perfect tone-setter.  Others may opt to go 3-wood or less based on the deceptive visual from the tee box.  You should cut it loose with the driver.

Bunkers:  As a barometer, we’ve never seen GT Duke lose his cool, but the BNGC traps provoked him.  They’re good to look at, a bitch to hit from.  Smooth and flat, which generally is good.  Sunken at the bottom of berms, no problem there, either.  Compacted to pavement hardness seems not to be as good, if you want to be able to stop your shot before it bounces over the green.

Rough:  Best described as mysterious.  We’re no strangers to landing shots in the less than short grass, but it was perplexing how so many of them seemingly disappeared.  The berms/undulations surely didn’t help, nor did fertilizing the rough to thicken it up.  Maybe it’s a seasonal thing where the rough goes wild, but for a course that didn’t have its rough clogged with leaves, it was not an easy search to find a ball that was screaming, “hey, numbnuts, you dumped it over here.”

Greens:  Based on our wealth of Tracking experience, the practice green is a mixed bag most of the time and not a good indicator of on-course conditions, but in this case all were confident that BNGC would yield at multiple 20-footers during our round because the speed and roll seemed manageable.  Not so much.  We still liked the rolls; there were a lot of makeable putts out there. GT Duke rolled ‘em in on the front 9 like it was a stroll in the park (back 9 was less kind to him).

Other Greens Features:  We were not fans of the humpback-backside drop-off’s.  Elevated greens, we’ve learned to deal with, humping it up so that you’re completely cooked if you over club or get a bad bounce?  Not so much.  In short, not fans of this setup because there were so many other opportunities to piss us off on this front and BNGC took the easy way out.

Other on-course amenities:  On-cart GPS.  This could’ve been placed higher in the review, but we thought it more important to sort through the other course details first.  Part of the enjoyment of playing golf on a weekday afternoon is getting away from it all.  When the course is mainly set up for “cart path only” (possibly due to poor drainage in some parts) and the cart GPS refuses to give you proper yardage and nags until you return to the path, well... it’s a lot like being where you otherwise might have been before you opted to play golf on such a fine afternoon...and who needs that?  On the other hand, it does explain why the BNCC’s fairways are in such good shape.

In Summary:  We thought that the GT British Experience was held 7/19.  How were we to know that BNGC would kick it up a notch by having a bagpipe player wailing away near the snack bar behind the first tee?  While we thought that Blackstone National provided both a very playable and scoreable layout, which we enjoyed, once we were out of bagpipe earshot, there may have been too many annoyances to rate it higher than...