Nomadic_golfer : September 2021
Par 72, 6073m (blue), slope 128, $60 green fee
4 par 3s from 139-189m, 10 par 4s from 272-416m, 4 par 5s from 451-486m
I sampled this much loved track in early Spring, 1 week after coring and still a few weeks before the santa-anna fairways would come to life. It is however, a beautiful location and you can see that it would scrub up to be a very well conditioned course. Almost all fairways are heavily tree-lined, with gums and pines abundant, penalising fairway misses.
After not having played here for over 30 years, all the holes were new to me. I thought the design was a real mixture; there’s not many subtleties, holes are either straight ahead, or have a severe dogleg/ barrier. There are a number of quirks, some which I loved and some which I couldn’t really fathom on what was effectively my first time around. 3 par4’s under 300m from the back offer some risk/reward opportunities.
I thought the back 9 was the most interesting and strongest of the two but I know this opinion differs to that of some colleagues who have played it many more times than me. The tough holes on the front are the 180m 3rd to a small green with bunker left and ground sloping away from you; very tricky to hit that green, and the 415m par4 5th, a difficult hole with OB all the way down the right, trees left catching the bail out and hindering 2nd shots from the left side. The green is then elevated and bunkered while the surrounds run slightly downhill, so a long iron missing this green can get into some trouble.
The quirks of the back 9 fascinated me and I really enjoyed it. The holes that probably polarise opinion are: 10 (390m with vicious turn right and downhill around large tree close to the tee but it’s not as tricky a tee shot as it first appears); 12 (very tough 410m between two large trees off the tee with fairway bunker right, then downhill to a green cut in the side of a hill and protected by water across the front – I like it); and then 16 and 17 – both lack defined fairways but I loved the strategy on these two holes. 16 is a 400m par 4, sweeping hard left with a tee shot over scrub where you pick your line based on how far you reckon you’ll hit it across the corner; right is a bail out with the penalty being the further you bail, the longer your 2nd. The picture into the bunkered, slightly elevated green with a line of pines as the backdrop, is the aesthetic highlight of the course. Then 17 looks like a nothing hole at first, but the strategy is so simple and so effective. It’s 350m with thick trees left and a big, open space to the right giving you a false sense of ease. You must however, take on that trouble on the left and hit the left hand third of the fairway to avoid having to negotiate a single large gum about 60m short of the green in the right side of the fairway.
Overall, Blackwood is a challenging track where the importance of hitting the fairway must be respected. Aesthetically beautiful, not many subtleties with lots of severe turns and doglegs. A few unique/ unusual characteristics give you a real mix of emotions and many options off the tees. A very good golfing experience.