In 1940 Fort Devens was the gateway for thousands of New England men drafted into the military at the outset of World War I. Today it’s home to Red Tail golf club named for the majestic raptor that can be seen flying overhead and one of the best golf facilities in New England. The course was designed by renowned architect Brian Silva who masterfully crafted the layout following the natural terrain to utilize elevation change on just about every hole. With that in mind it is a good idea to arrive early enough to take advantage of the all grass tee driving range and practice green near the first tee, it’s very representative of the one’s you’ll find out on the course.
Some courses are lucky enough to have one or two holes they can call there ‘signature hole’ usually one that golfers look forward to because of its visual appeal, think of the seventeenth at TPC Sawgrass. In my opinion Redtail has at least nine holes that would be considered ‘signature holes’ at any other course and the other nine are no less challenging or appealling making Red Tail’s eighteen holes the best complete course in the area.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the course at Red Tail is the immaculate condition of the tee boxes, fairways, bunkers and greens, they are meticulously maintained and are in superb condition. Pair that with a course design that utilized the natural terrain and elevation changes to craft each hole and excellent customer service you have a private club experience in a daily fee facility.
The first hole is characteristic of the course where waste areas and bunkers are utilized to catch errant tee shots. Favor the right side of the fairway as the hill should kick balls back towards the fairway and will give you a favorable angle to the green which is guarded by bunkers on the left, it’s a good hole to stretch it out and get ready for the long par five second hole. Paying tribute to the sites past the second hold is aptly named ‘tanks crossing’ the layup area was used for years as you guessed it, a tank crossing. The green on this hole is quite large and could lead to three putts if you’re not careful with your approach. Moving along to the seventh hole and you’ll find a ‘long’ par four measuring at 481 yards from the back tee, although the tee shot is significantly downhill if well struck the hole plays much shorter than it’s number. Try and avoid the waste area down the right side of the fairway as you approach the green and par is certainly not out of the question. The premium once again on the ninth hole is placed on the tee shot, anything to the right is unplayable as it’s designated as conservation land and cannot be entered to retrieve errant tee shots, the green is guarded by only a small bunker on the front right another visually stunning hole especially if played from the elevated tee found behind the eight green.
On the way to the tenth tee you may want to swing by the clubhouse where you can grab a quick bite to eat before heading to the back nine. By the time you reach the eleventh hole you’ll have finished your hotdog and chips and be able to take a moment to appreciate the view from the tee of this short dramatic par three. Measuring at 171 yards it plays to its yardage as the tee shot is all carry over a gravel pit and bunker protecting the front of the green, for those who lose there nerve there is a small slice of fairway short and to the left of the green. Anything short and right on this hole and prepare your scorecard for a big number.
The finishing five holes at Red Tail will provide some of the most visually stunning golf holes you’ll find anywhere. With elevated tee boxes, strategically placed bunkers and on the finishing hole the only water on the course this will be a stretch of holes you will not soon forget. After your tee shot on the seventeenth hole appropriately named ‘bunkers’ don’t forget to take a look off to the right and you’ll see bunkers used to store ammunition back when the base was in use. If you’ve never played Red Tail before the eighteenth hole is a mystery from the tee box, a blind tee shot should favor the middle to left side of the fairway as there is a deep grass bunker down the right side that would force a layup on this reachable par five. After a good tee shot you’ll be faced with a decision of whether or not to go for the green which is fronted by a fairly large pond, a layup here would leave a short shot to the green and an opportunity for birdie to finish the round.Put Red Tail on your list of must plays this year and you’ll be asking yourself what took you so long to get out there. An absolute must play.