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Edgewood GC, Southwick, Mass. (back 9 reviewed Sept., 2009; front 9 reviewed Sept., 2011)

Sherpa Matt has recommended 
Edgewood at nearly every GT Minor Event over the past two years, after he started playing it every Monday in his newly-found golf league.  We were remiss in not playing/reviewing it sooner.

Anyone who treks north on Route 10 towards Edgewood, any Tracker at least, may notice that the path to this great Track is dotted with certain roadside landmarks, mainly congregational churches and farm stands; a great and balanced approach  to a Tracking venue.  The most notable church on the scenic journey was the "Assembly of God" in scenic Southwick.  The inspiring part about that landmark, from a Goat Tracker perspective, was that it hit the right GT hymnal note, i.e., "when Goat Trackers descend on a course, it's occasionally (maybe frequently) a 'God-awful assembly.'"  That was way more amusement than necessary to get through the trip to Edgewood.

The Edgewood GC Review

Revisiting the approach...you just can't have a course located on
Sheep Pasture Road, much less a course sign next to the street sign
(pictured at left), without attracting attention from the Goat Track folks.  (2007 Goat Tracker of the Year, Sherpa Matt, gets a pass here; since he recommended the course and from what we understand, approaches Edgewood from a different direction).  At the entrance to the course though, the 60-degree ascent to get to the parking lot and pro shop makes it pretty clear that one is in rarefied Tracking air, with a good view of the Berkshires, to boot.

At this point, we were clued in that Matt had his 'A-game' working and would share his insights on our trek around the back 9.

Tee Boxes:  pretty firm, but not quite hard enough to pop a nut; some were kind of uneven, but nothing exceptional by Goat Tracking standards; on the other hand, if you consider a lot of grass exceptional, these are.

Fairways:  There was a lot of interesting stuff going on here.  Sure, there were the usual dead spots, but this was the first Track we've run across that had designated dead spots mapped out on the scorecard.  Rest assured, it was more than funny to the Sherpas.

Oher Course Layout Features:  It may have taken a while for the Edgewood newbies to catch on, but once their "Inner Sherpa" kicked in, it was all, "ahh, grasshoppahhh..."  For Golfer Number Two, it seemed to click on the dogleg 12th.

The 
T-Rex bit:   there are plenty of courses with doglegs and ways to work around them; periscopes, gongs, slices, hooks, skulled tee shots, etc., but the gong on 12th at Edgewood may be our favorite.  An old wagon wheel and a rock.  Classic.  Bang a gong, get it on.

Greens:  most impressive.  We won't utter any heresy here (i.e., "break on a green at a public course"), but we did observe some strange rolls.... and bounces.  Not that we're experts at firing at the pin, but the pin placements seemed less than Tracker-friendly, unless you were watching someone else's shot bounce or roll off the green, in which case they were just freakin' hilrious!  The best example was Sherpa Matt's blind (alternate fairway) approach shot into #15, the "easier" par-5.  Golfer Number Two gave him the play-by-play rundown from inside the tree line.  "You fired it right at the pin, then it started moving kind of slow, maybe like a  cobra, then maybe more like a cobra with a mongoose clamped onto its neck...but you're still on the green...just sixty feet from the pin."

"The Hedge" otherwise known as the part of the 12th green that has settled/sunken in over the 4" drainage pipe running just beneath the surface horizontally, with longer "hedge like" grass growing in the trench.  We can see how a putt across or through it may be difficult to gauge for speed, with the golf equivalent of "
stop sticks" there, but "break" should never enter into that equation.

Bunkers:  Good stuff; kind of like Berkshire ski resort snow in late March/early April, i.e. loose and coarse, which we like.  We thought about comparing it to aggregate as opposed to sand, but that wouldn't be right.  The downside is that if anyone has blasted out of a greenside bunker, you'll be looking at a pebble-filled putting line, but that's just part of the Tracking experience.

Sherpa Matt pointed out that the left greenside bunker on #16 is a "puttable trap," where occasionally in his league play, Trackers opt for the putter instead of the sand wedge to save their bacon on this hole.  Sounded like a good idea, probably equally applicable to most of the greenside bunkers at Coventry Pines.

"Fear not the OB"  Part of what we like about Edgewood is that it looks like a heavily wooded course and it is, with a lot more oaks than pines.  What's best about it these o.b. areas, from a Tracker perspective, is they're both richchet-friendly and the "woods" are not nearly as imposing as they appear to be from the tee, with enough openings between the trees for displays of "Track Acumen."  The best example of this, among many, is the  right side of #18.  Matt said that you can drill a tee shot deep into the woods on the right side upslope and expect to play it from a decent lie.  We were skeptical, but Matt backed up his assertion by drilling his drive a good forty feet into the trees, only to have it roll out to a very playable lie for an approach shot.  A great on-course demo.

The 19h:  Closed when we made our way off the course after dark, but we've heard good things.

In Summary:  After conferring with GT Sherpas Matt and Jeff, we rate Edgewood a stout   out of 4 GT logos, which puts it ahead of most Goat Tracks we've reviewed  this year.  Overall, a good value (a great value if you catch the twilight rate) and better than average Goat Tracking experience; difficult to surpass, really.
 

 Edgewood, front 9, reviewed September, 2011

Sure, it may make more sense to some for us to post the review of the front 9 before the review of the back 9, but since our impressions of Edgewood GC were shaped by the back 9, we’re leaving the review in reverse order.

We couldn’t have asked for a better September day to turn out for what has now come to be known by many as “The Geoghegan Invitational,” the unofficial fifth GT Minor Event, hosted by Sherpa Matt at his home (weekday league) course.  Matt’s always a fountain of arcane wisdom and we greatly appreciate his insights, especially since most of us were taking our first crack at Edgewood’s front 9.


Layout:

There was some question by many in our group as to whether Edgewood had undergone “improvement” or re-design efforts, mainly because the first tee box pointed to a vacated pasture and the first green was on a seemingly different layout.  If work had been done, it wasn’t during our lifetimes.

As Sherpa Matt is wont to do, he offered a great observation right out of the chute, “Every course should have an open well in the middle of it.”  We glimpsed at it from the first hole, but were afforded a much better viewing opportunity on the 2nd hole after “guiding” a couple of drives near it.  We can report that there is no bucket, no trapped puppies, no one putting lotion in a basket, and a water level rising to about two inches below the turf, which explains a lot, after recent rainfall (floating turf on #2).

Walking across Sheep Pasture Road to #3 exposes one to a much different Tracking Experience than what we grew accustomed to on the back nine.  Crossing the road is like crossing onto another course; well maybe not that stark a contrast, but the holes on the east side of Sheep Pasture Road are definitely more bail-and-wail friendly than those we’ve played on the west (back 9) side of it.  Not that we wouldn’t bail and wail anyway, but it was good to see such an inviting layout.

Hole Number 3 checks in at a modest 315 yards with a slice-friendly dogleg right and is drivable, according to Sherpa Matt, so we can see how it may not exactly be “pace of play friendly” when you’re in or behind a group with a big hitter who has delusions of grandeur…or is that optimism?

From the tee box, #4 has a very “Links-like feel” to it; some berms with a seasonal creek bed at the bottom to carry on the drive,  Pretty good stuff.  The visual gets the Goat Tracker seal of approval and the juices flowing from the tee. 

Favorite layout feature, after playing the front 9:  Symmetry.  Over the first 8 holes, Sherpa Matt kept pitching how enjoyable the 9th would be.  As difficult as it may seem to be to live up to those expectations, it all made sense as it unfolded when darkness started to set in and we took our hacks into the dogleg right.  The 9th is the perfect counterpart to the 18th.  Where the hillside tree line on the right side of the 18th spits tee shots back onto the fairway for approach shots, anything right of the rock in the middle of the 9th fairway will roll downhill and get swallowed by the tree line on the right (Golfer Number Two scoped it out; there are decent Track Acumen opportunities awaiting from the hardpan between the trees).  Yin and yang on the design front.  Layout perfection, or something close to it.  We’ve yet to find a better-matched pair of finishing holes.

Other layout minutiae...

Sand:
  Since most of us only play Edgewood once a year, we may be a bit sketchy as to course condition details year-to-year, but the sand…ah, the sand…Early on, the bunkers threw us a curve by, well… not being rock pit central and being more pliable than what we were accustomed to from previous trips.  Then, just when we started enjoying them, it was back to “loose granular” April skiing in Vermont conditions.  We should’ve known better, but didn’t.

Tee Boxes:
  A lot firmer than expected, especially after monsoon season, and maybe we’ve gotten soft, but the tee boxes on the front 9 at Edgewood were among the most uneven (read: challenging) as any we’ve played in recent years.  The great thing about playing this course in late summer/early fall is that the crabgrass can disguise certain subtle changes in elevation that you otherwise don’t notice until you’ve settled your feet into the “turf” after pegging up.  Brilliant.

We can’t knock
the condition of Edgewood because a lot of Tracks in these parts have been in rough shape after tropical storm Irene, followed by some flash flooding a couple of weeks later.   Heck, for us “ground under repair” just makes life a bit easier, free drops, etc.  Still, the innumerable tire tracks through the muck were pretty impressive.  We’d seen signs on the way to Edgewood about a moto-X event in the area recently; were not aware that it may have been held on the course.

Maybe most importantly, well if not most importantly, it certainly registers close to the top of the list:  Sherpa Matt pointed out that under new course management, as of 2011, the BCC function has been declared verboten at Edgewood.  Still letting that sink in.  Why such the unfriendly gesture?  Like the “No Coolers” signs in the parking lot and near the clubhouse will be taken seriously.

Overall, we got some positive feedback regarding the Front Nine Edgewood Experience from folks who don’t easily throw out such compliments, so it’s worth at least a 2 ½ out of 4 on the GT Logo rating scale, let’s call it a out of four.