It’s time for Jay’s Birthday celebrations once again, and this year’s festivities will be as much fun for you as for me. We’ll have golf and music – what else? Oh yeah, girls and suhi:)
This year we’ll be reporting live from Forsgate, Union Vale, and Seize sur Vingt! See you all weekend with reports live from the Bacchinalia that is the Flemmapalooza birthday celebrations. We’ll also have radio shows with Bruce Moulton, Gary Van Sickle, John Hopkins, Steve Czaban, and more. Things will run from Friday at 7:30 p.m. Live from Acey Ducey in Queens to the firm’s birthday party on the 25th…the latest my birthday festivities have extended. Musical guests The Shift will be rocking out this year so come to the Rockwood Music Hall at 10 p.m. on Saturday.
DEVENS, MA – The leaves along I-90 are just beginning to turn. Hints of orange and crimson are forming around the edges of the treetops, and crisp air greets us as day breaks. The verdant green of summer is slowly fading to a burnished gold, a fiery orange, and a noble crimson.
In one month, all the vale of Paul Revere’s ride will be aflame in an artist’s palette of color, a last joyful burst from Mother Nature before she retreats from winter’s fury. But until then September is one last warm-weather hurrah for golfers, so the tee sheets at Red Tail Golf Club in Devens are choc-a-bloc from sunrise to sunset.
“We’ve been going there since it opened in 2003,” said AWITP correspondent Rodney Zilla, swapping his fleece pullover for shirt-sleeves as the day progresses. “From the day it opened it took the top spot in the greater Boston public golf club scene, and it hasn’t looked back since. It’s the first stop you make on a public golf sojourn of the northeast U.S.”
Built in 2003, just as the Second Golden Age of Golf Course Architecture was beginning to take seed and germinate, spreading out all its myriad roots and tendrils, architect Brian Silva designed Red Tail as a result of an epiphany.
“You want the trouble on all sides, go bowling!” he gibes puckishly.
It’s now his mantra, his rallying cry. You see although Boston’s favorite son of a golf course architect was trained by and partnered with quintessential parkland and penal designer Geoffrey Cornish, Silva took a turn to the strategic school after studying Pete Dye’s courses.
“Pete taught me all about sweeping the fairways around the hazards,” he said in a 2005 interview. “It’s all about the angles and making people play around or over the hazards. And then, of course, my favorite architects are C.B. Macdonald, Seth Raynor, and Charles Banks. You can’t study golf course design in America with studying their work.”
Public-access Red Tail was Silva’s first man-sized hit after, “having the light bulb go on,” as he put it, and Red Tail does, indeed, contain many elements of holes found in the Macdonald-Raynor-Banks flavor. Wickedly-contoured greens, saddle fairways, modified Redans, Alps-like mountains of sandy wastes, alternating shot patterns (fade off the tee, but draw into the green, like at the first hole), and hazards turned perpendicular to the line of play, much as they would at the great Golden Age courses, provide the yeoman’s share of the challenge. Also an expert in restoring Donald Ross designs, Silva often guards his greens with fiendish drop offs into Ross-like collection areas where golfers have the options of putting, chipping, pitching, bumping-and-running, or any other idea they might have.
“The chipping and collection areas keep the higher handicapper in play by letting him putt or bump and run, while the options play with the head of the better golfer,” Silva said in an earlier interview.
The opening run and the closing stretch are both particularly strong. After negotiating the severely guarded and criminally narrow sliver of a green at the first hole, the par-5 second features an original Silva design feature, the “Green Monster bunker,” a towering pancake stack of multi-layered bunkers guarding the left side of the landing area of this dog leg right par five. (For those of you scoring at home, two other examples of the mountain-like Green Monster bunkers are the par-5 ninth at Hiawatha Landing near Binghamton, and the par-5 fourth at Silva’s private version of Red Tail, Black Rock Golf Club in nearby Hingham.) The gorgeous par-3 third features a green benched into the hill with a steep slope-off all along the right side, while the par-5 fourth showcases one of Silva’s most dramatic punchbowl greens.
The finish is equally creative and memorable. After a drive from an elevated tee at the middle-length 14th, the approach is uphill to a saddle green, more steeply sloped than its punchbowl counterpart at four. The 16th cascades sharply down a ridge before emptying out into a green set amidst the remnants of the sand quarry.
Perennially voted golfers’ favorite hole in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, from an elevated tee box, the Cape Hole 17th begs for a long drive cutting the corner on this dog leg right. However, shots short or right find a waste bunker as fiendish as any at Pine Valley or World Woods.
“I deliberately made the contours round and did not provide a target off the tee because the challenge there is for the player to choose the right line” notes Silva, again choosing the Doctrine of Deception over the tired, hackneyed Doctrine of Framing. Maybe in voting this strategic masterpiece voted the best hole in the Greater Boston Area time and time again, the notion of strategic golf is starting to enter the zeitgeist of the average American golfer after all.
Finally the 18th is a reachable par-5 for the long hitter who can carry the crest of a hill, but the second shot will be played from an uneven lie (at best) to a green fronted by water. The entire fairway slopes toward the water, so even third shot approaches with wedges need to be precise. A front right pin position often suckers in greedy, imprudent players and hangs a round-crushing big number if played carelessly.
One Red Tail course ranger described as “Sunday pin placements every day.” I don’t know about that – I made a lot of putts – but the greens were absolutely perfect. Internet rumors of conditioning issues at Red Tail turned out to be unfounded. While there were one or two bare patches at the beginning of a fairway or two, the course was otherwise in pristine conditions. It’s possible that any bad Internet reviews were really just ancient grudges carried out by trolls in their underwear in their Mom’s basement surrounded by empty Pringle’s cans and listening to their all-Rush mix tape while alternating the Internet for World of Warcraft on their computer screen. Best of all, the greens rolled absolutely true: they were fast enough to bring out all the great contours and false fronts without being unfair. Bad putts were punished, but every putt rolled right where you hit it.
Soon the trees will be barren, branches reaching phantasmagorically against a leaden, slate sky. Old Man Winter will have settled his icy, frosted rump solidly on I-90 making Boston to Buffalo as frigid as Minnesota to Dakota. But for a few more blessed weeks, golfers will still brave the rapidly cooling days for one more crack at Silva’s Red Tail before the snow flies. We may not hear much about him outside of New England, but Brian Silva is as much a Boston sports hero, a Boston institution, a Boston icon as the city’s beloved Red Sox and Patriots, and Bostonians sing his praises with the same delight as their other sports idols. The golfers all know him and love him.
“Silva is all Boston, all the time,” said Zilla. “Who else could have given us Green Monster bunkers? Way to go, Brian! Wicked pissah!”
Listen to the Jim Pavlik (Red Tail Head Professional) interview on the Jay’s Plays Radio Show all this week and next on the Golf News Net Radio Network.
Welcome back to your one-stop shop for the best NFL picks in the biz. We here at AWITP bat a gargantuan better than SIXTY PERCENT winning clip here, both overall and in teasers.
Here’s how it works:
1. We do teasers here, so you get to move the line six points either way in your favor, but you have to hit both picks. “But that’s harder” you say…not if you play smart. Here’s how…
2. Don’t bet every game. Remember Ace Rothstein from Casino? He didn’t bet all 100 games on the card – he’d bet the two that were winners. So Rule 1 is play SMART…losers chase action…winners stay cool and win one game at a time.
2. Stay away from NFC East and West inter-divisional match-ups! You never know what you’re going to get week-to-week.
3. Be the playground bully. Bet against crappy teams even more than you bet on good teams. Example – Jacksonville or Oakland! An ATM machine for you!
4. Don’t forget the Over/Under! It’s your friend in a week where the lines are too close for comfort.
5. If you’re not 100% confident, DON’T BET THE GAME!
6. Bet ultra-conservatively the first five weeks. That’s when the most upsets happen (outside week 16). We break that rule next week…so here’s our litmus test.
7. Stay away from 7.5 and 3.5 lines…As Mike Mosely once said, “Danger Will Robinson!”
8. Bow to the power of Jay and Enresto the Prediction Iguana! Thank us as you clean out your bookie!