NORTON, Mass – On a trip from my home at The Villages back to New England to visit friends, I had a chance to play Norton Country Club, a semi-private, 18-hole par 71 course. The course originally opened in 1955 as 9 holes and was completely redesigned by architects Brian Silva and Geoffrey Cornish in 1988, when it was expanded to 18 holes. The golf course is a classic, parkland layout carved through the woods along isolated corridors without homes or development along the course.
Norton Country Club is located off Route 95 or Route 495 exits that will get you to 188 Oak Street in the town of Norton. A vehicle GPS system is advised to negotiate your way to Oak Street where the course is located especially if you are unfamiliar with the Norton/Mansfield area.
The property includes an on-site clubhouse, restaurant, and a 1,600 square foot pro shop stocked with all the essentials. Daily Green Fees fluctuate depending on the season and time of day. The course is open to the public at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sunday, and Holiday mornings. There are two practice greens available for putting and chipping but no driving range on site.
My round was played from the white tees due to wet conditions that somewhat hindered the distance gained once the ball hit the fairways making the course play longer than usual. Be prepared to use every club in your bag on this extremely difficult tract, which measures 5,258 yards from the white tees with a rating of 68.8 and a slope of 129. The one constant is water, which comes into play on 11 holes.
The course features four sets of tees that are interchangeable to allow golfers to adjust their handicap to the right combination. Choose wisely, as this course is relatively tight especially on the front nine with undulating fairways that will affect ball movement and hinder your normal distances with your club selections.
As you make the turn to the back nine, you suddenly find yourself in old farmland, where the fairways are somewhat wider, but the rough is higher. The fairways fluctuate from tight and tree-lined to a stretch of holes that more closely resemble a Scottish-style links layout.
Throughout 18 holes you will find a number of holes are not only tight but have cross hazards requiring distance control and some risk/reward decisions throughout your round. Fifty-eight strategically placed bunkers make shot selection a top priority on a number of holes throughout the course.
Norton Country Club, at times, resembles a target golf course that requires accuracy and patience off the tee. The greens were very good and rolled nicely but were also interesting. Plenty of slopes and odd shapes to keep your imagination and patience on high alert.
If you’re in the Norton area, about 30 miles south of Boston, you might give Norton Country Club a try. It’s not an easy course, even from the shortest tee boxes. Note to reader: Bring an extra sleeve of golf balls and some patience because, if the wind is blowing, it just might be one of your biggest golfing challenges of the year!