Developers George McGoldrick and Jim Read were so impressed with what architect Brian Silva had accomplished with his designs at Waverly Oaks and Cape Cod National that they had no hesitation in inviting him to lay out the course at Black Rock Country Club within a challenging 450-acre property that was centred round a gravel quarry.
During a difficult construction period that took a couple of years to complete, huge rocks and boulders were moved around the estate, old dump sites were capped and, in the words of Brian Silva, “many ten-wheel tractor trailer loads from the “Big Dig” were used to cover and shape the blasted ledge”.
An eight-inch layer of crushed stone was spread over the top of the marine clay then 250,000 cubic yards of imported topsoil from other building sites was trucked in to cap fairways that were routed over, around and between the remaining rocky outcrops.
Holes of particular note include the bunkerless 3rd (where the absence of sand around a narrow shelf green is a delight), the par three 9th (with Redan-like green characteristics on a surface that slopes from high front right to lower back left) and the 225-yard 12th, which is played from an elevated tee to a green that’s bunkered all the way along its right flank.
Black Rock is a Brian Silva design that opened in 2003. Located in the old Margetts Quarry this created both opportunities and challenges. The end result is a fun and challenging golf course.
The first hole is welcoming and fairly open par 4 with a scattering of fairway bunkers on both sides. Favor the right off the tee. As a sign of things to come there is a shelf of rock to the right of the green. The second is a downhill par 3, bunkers right and if you are short it will probably end up in a collection area right. The green is framed with a rock outcropping in the background. The 3rd is either loved or loathed. A large fairway bunker left and that is pretty much it. The small narrow green sits on a ledge and if you do not hit the right club, or the right club correctly, you will end up pitching from the swale in front of the green. The 4th hole is unique and an awesome par 5. Slight dogleg left with a bunker on the inside elbow. It is called the Green Monster. For you baseball fans, Black Rock , is only about 30 miles from Fenway Park, home of the original Green Monster at 37 feet. The second shot at Black Rock 4 is blind and must carry a 40 foot ridge. Part of the genius of this hole is the risk reward. You carry the ridge and everything is downhill to a humungous punch bowl green, 12000 SF. The 5th while the number one handicap hole seems anticlimactic. A long uphill par 4. The horizon green sits on what once was a construction dump site. The 6th is a long par 5. If you are playing the correct tees, most of us will not even consider getting home in two. Caution, there is a fairway bunker about 150 yards out. Also there are 3 strip bunkers around the green and they are described as “deep, deeper and deepest”. The dogleg left 7th is a good birdie oppty. The left side is a quarry wall with a strip bunker between it and the fairway. While this is one of the widest fairways it has one of the narrowest greens with long deep bunkers on both sides. Favor the left off the tee for the best approach. The 8th is most notable for the neighbor on the right side. They make no bones about what they think of Black Rock and golfers with expletive laden signs. The 9th is a mid-length par 3 called Redan. My perspective is the green did not angle back to front enough to earn that moniker.
The back starts with an excellent birdie oppty. Favor the left off the tee. The green is framed by rock outcroppings. The 11th is longer and uphill and does list a little bit left to right. There are decorative bunkers and rocks sprinkled intermittently throughout this hole. The green is a quasi-Biarritz with a deep hidden bunker left. The 12th is dogleg right par 3. The key to this hole is finding the right target line left of the green to have your tee shot funnel down towards the flag. There is a pond left that should not come into play and a large front bunker on the elbow. The 13th is a straight downhill driveable par 4. However, there are trees left and rock ledge right. Ironically, about 200 yards off the tee the fairway is at its narrowest and open up the closer one gets to the green. The genius of this hole is Silva is saying, “go for it” and he increases the risk if you choose not to. The par 5 14th is the most traditional. Slightly downhill, possible to get home in two one must avoid the assorted outcrops and bunkers. The 15th is a ho-hum par 3 and the easiest hole on the course. The long reverse S 16th is my favorite hole. Off the tee the preferred shot is a high fade. I can’t do that so I hit a high draw instead which put me on the very left side of the fairway. There is 50 foot high rock wall running down the right side and a water hazard on the left side of the fairway. The approach calls for a high draw into this green. Not sure why, but I came up with the great idea of hitting a low 5 wood into the rock wall to see if I could bounce it onto the green. The first two splashed in the hazard and I was successful on my third effort. Not smart, but fun. The 16th was originally a par 5. The 17th is a long straight par four. The challenge is the half dozen bunkers on the landing area that essentially create a split fairway. The right is a wee bit tighter, but provides a better approach shot. The 18th is the longest par four and is a dogleg right. There is a strip bunker on the inside elbow. Long closing hole.
Black Rock is an excellent course, however I fell it is misnamed. The preponderance of rock one sees appears to be gray granite. Not sure where the name came from. This is a manufactured course in a difficult setting. I was told part of the fill came from Boston’s Big Dig. Regardless, the end result is fantastic. I heartily recommend it.