It’s hard to believe it’s been as long as it’s been since I packed up and headed east. From the time that I made the long drive to the DMV I’ve aged a fair bit, grey hair has impeded where I still have hair left, and my limbs are showing their age and years of abuse. When I first moved here, I didn’t know the lay of the land at all, and finding basic information on where golf courses were located wasn’t easy. So after driving around looking for a course to play at after settling in here, I stumbled upon Needwood Golf Course. I didn’t really know anything other than that it was a golf course and I was able to walk on. I don’t remember much about the round beyond seeing they had a 9-hole executive course in addition to the 18-hole regulation course (and it was a sunny warm (but not humid) day.
Fast forward far too many years, and I decided to go back. After a few weeks of playing some of the state’s toughest tracks, I needed something that wasn’t going to punch me in the face relentlessly which was the feeling I was getting at Bulle Rock and PB Dye (which are marvelous tests). After paying, the other people in my group were no shows, so the starter, in a rare bit of generosity, let me play through the foursome in front that was the first group out which meant I could play at my own (rather fast) pace.
I breezed through the first couple holes; one thing I noticed was that the greens were in really good shape. They rolled pretty good (they have a board near the first tee with the stimpmeter reading- they were rolling a 10 according to the board (kudos for the “Augusta National speed is a 14″)). Actually, they rolled fantastic (this was after I officially put my Odyssey 2-ball putter on notice (and yes I’m aware that a fat guy lecturing a putter is the kind of imagery that must draw people to the game by the thousands). Really smooth and consistent. Fairways were in pretty good shape, tee boxes and roughs were also in good shape.
Layout wise, the front side (other than the 2nd hole) is fairly flat. If you like tree-lined fairways that are fairly generous, you’re in luck. The back-to-back par 5’s are shortish (even from the tips they max out at under 515 yards). If I have one complaint, it’s that the par 3’s are all longish and are all similar distances. It finishes with a tight (but short) par 4.
The back nine has much more elevation change with only one par 5 (for the blue or white tees, the course is 36/34=70) and 3 par 3’s on the back. A par 4 with a very uphill second shot followed by a longish dogleg right par 4 starts the back nine off. The only par 5 is 13, which features an elevated tee box to a tight tree-lined fairway.
The 18th hole is everything a closing hole should be; a longish par 4 (420 yards) to a green protected by a lake to the right with the clubhouse, practice green and 1st tee in full view (which means your catastrophic failures are on display for any remotely interested party to watch). In my case, I was able to get up and down from a tricky lie to save par which felt better than good.
There’s a decent range (mats only), a good sized practice green, and there is also a 9-hole executive length course which is perfect for beginners or novice golfers (or anyone who just wants to play 9 holes). They also have an indoor
Nobody is going to put Needwood on a ‘Best You Can Play’ list. It certainly lacks a signature hole and the design, though classic, isn’t going to blow the socks off of anyone (it’s a classic, parkland style course). With all that being said, what it does it does well. A well maintained course (in spite of some fairly significant challenges this year) that offers plenty of challenge to most golfers that isn’t in the stratosphere cost-wise (I paid $64.99 to ride- of that, $15.00 was a cart fee) relatively speaking. They have a snack bar which isn’t going to earn a Michelin Star but it serves its purpose. They have an indoor studio open year-round and the last few years were offering indoor leagues on their simulator.
I had fun, and was able to break 80 (which I haven’t done all year). Sure- the course isn’t exactly a beast even from the tips (less than 6,300 yards from the tips), but I had fun and remembered all the things I love about this game. That’s worth something.
NON Golf Commentary
SONG OF THE DAY
London and Manchester have had a rough go of it. Wishing both towns courage, peace, and hope.
This Smiths video has 2 songs; The Queen is Dead and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out. Some of their better work; jarring, beautiful, and imagery that runs the spectrum. Not bad for 4 kids from Salford (a Manchester suburb) who weren’t together very long but while they were made songs that still hold up 30+ years later (and quite well).