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.