If you are looking for one of the best semi-private clubs in New England look no further than the award winning Shining Rock Golf Club in Northbridge, MA. The championship layout, course conditions and severe elevation changes prove to challenge some of the best modern course designs in New England. I have played golf courses all over the world and Shining Rock hovers right up there with some of my favorites and should most definitely be on your “bucket list.”
From the drive up the hill through the magnificent real estate you know that you are in for a treat. The staff at Shining Rock truly understands the meaning of hospitality from greeting you with your cart in the parking lot to washing your clubs at the end of the round. The Rockdale Grill offers views of the 1st and 9th holes with a mouthwatering menu, ice-cold beverages and friendly service. The design of the clubhouse is just as unique as the course. The clubhouse sits at the highest point of the course featuring three glass garage doors that open to a flagstone patio overlooking the Blackstone Valley Corridor.
Let’s discuss how Shining Rock was named. Behind the 16th green sits an 80-foot high cliff of granite that offers an unbelievable view of the Blackstone River Valley. There are vast amounts of mica found within the cliff causes the enormous rock to glisten in the sunshine, hence the name Shining Rock which it has been so called since the Nipmuc Indian tribe days. From the tips the par 72 layout is rated at a 72.9 with a slope of 135, which to me is a bit low. The total yardage reads 6,709 however a majority of the shots play one to three clubs uphill, there are not many flat lies and the greens feature undulations that require your short game to be on point.
One of Shining Rocks most unique features is the grain that pulls the ball toward the Blackstone Valley so pay attention to where the valley wants to pull your ball both in the fairways and on the greens. My favorite stretch of holes are the opening six with my favorite holes being the “The Rock” and “The Quarry” which are almost the same in length, can yield over par scores and feature some of the most unique rock formations I have ever seen on a golf course. The tee shot on the short par 4 fourth requires a minimum of at least a 230 yard carry to a small fairway that slopes left to right. The fourth is drivable however if you want to take the risk as it only measure 334 yards in length. The long par 3 fifth measures 239 yards in length but plays much longer. The small granite quarry behind the green has a beautiful stairway cut into it, which makes the green a joy to enter and leave after most likely making a bogey. The rest of the front nine has very similar traits and requires pinpoint accuracy as virtually every hole is lined by lateral hazards. The back nine is where you can turn your score around as it opens up a bit and is less severe in both elevation change and green undulation. Don’t forget to take a look at Shining Rock when you play the mammoth of a par 5 16th which measures 648 yards.
Shining Rock Golf Club is one of the most original layouts in course architecture history with each hole having a character of its own. The natural use of the land coupled with a knowledgeable management staff make Shining Rock a true semi-private wonder. SRGC offers five sets of tees and can be played at a reasonable rate. SRCC is also one of the only clubs with a multi-club membership which affords you playing privileges at the near by Hopkinton CC. For more information or to schedule a tee-time you can visit their website ShiningRock.com or call 508-234-0400. Trust me when I say that you won’t be disappointed.