Crumpin-Fox Club ranked 33rd toughest public course in the country by Golf Advisor

  • The view from the signature par 5 8th hole at Crumpin-Fox Club in Bernardston, which was recently ranked the 33rd toughest public golf course in the country by Golf Advisor. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/12/2020 5:45:09 PM
Modified: 10/12/2020 5:44:57 PM

If a challenge on the greens is what you’re searching for, Crumpin-Fox Club is the place for you. 

Golf Advisor ranked the Bernardston club’s 18-hole track the 33rd toughest public course in the country, making it the most challenging in all of Massachusetts and New England. 

“I was curious to see where we fell,” CFC head professional Jamie Ballard said of the list. “It’s the first time we’ve made this particular list. The last few years, we’ve gotten back on the radar of a lot of golf lists. We’ve done a lot of work to get our conditions up to be challenging in the right way. It’s so exciting for us. We got a lot of people responding ‘Wow, that makes me feel so much better about the 105 I shot out there.’” 

The 7,007-yard course plays to a 141 slope and 73.8 course rating. The 141 shows the difficulty and risk of the course, while the 73.8 means a golfer with a zero handicap is expected to shoot about 2-over-par. 

With a course as challenging as Crumpin-Fox, it even takes golf pros like Ballard a couple runs through to actually get a feel for how to play it. 

“We get a lot of folks that come out to try our course,” Ballard said. “We get a lot of accomplished players who come out and want to take a shot at it. Most of them want to come back because they realize you have to play it a couple times. As a golfer myself, you find yourself looking back and saying you wish you had done this or that differently. That’s the predominant reaction, even from the better players.”

While it may be easy for area golfers to take for granted having such a tough course in their own backyard, many of the top golfers from around the state come to Franklin County to gain experience by playing Crump. 

“If you want to practice for tournament golf, this is the place to do it,” Ballard said. “It’s a big feather in our cap. Our members love it. They pride themselves on the fact that we’re so challenging. The amount of people who come out just to get their butts kicked is a neat thing.”

What makes the course so challenging? For Ballard, he sees the course having many challenges, not just one distinguished problem golfers have to work through.  

“The biggest thing when you play Crumpin-Fox and all the courses on the list, it’s not one specific thing that makes the course challenging,” Ballard said. “The thing with us and all these other great courses, you have to be able to play intelligent golf through every one of our holes. You’re going to be hitting every club out of your bag and having to think your way through each shot. There’s so many different ways to attack these holes. A lot of the more accomplished golfers find it challenging but also enjoyable because it’s a true test. You have to have a ton of different shots in your bag because if not, a lot of people get out there and say ‘How the hell am I going to do that?’” 

While each hole at the club provides its own individual challenge, the course is known for its brutal eighth hole. Rated annually as the hardest par-5 in New England, the 600-yard hole leaves even the most skilled golfers puzzled about how to approach it. 

The hole wraps around the entire length of a pond, with players forced to go about 100 yards over the water to hit the green with their approach. 

“It’s the hardest and best par-5 in New England,” Ballard said. “It’s a tremendous par-5. It’s a true test of golf and our signature hole. You have no choice but to cross the water to get to the green.” 

While Crumpin-Fox is ranked the hardest course to play in New England, the club has provided less experienced golfers a way to play. They’ve installed six different forward tee boxes, allowing golfers to choose which box they tee off from based on their individual skill level. 

The high ranking allows the club to host big tournaments. Last year, the Massachusetts Father-Son Tournament was held there, and next year, the club will host a U.S. Open local qualifier as well as numerous other tournaments. 

Ballard said he’s hoping to add events as more tournaments are added to the golfing world next year.

“We’re trying to have more out here,” Ballard said. “We’re trying to get some of the eastern Mass. stuff to come out here. They like coming out, we just have to find a way to make the logistics work.”

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