By Bill Sangster

On a trip from my home at The Villages back to New England to visit friends, I had a chance to play Norton Country Club, a semi-private, 18-hole par 71 course. The course originally opened in 1955 as 9 holes and was completely redesigned by architects Brian Silva and Geoffrey Cornish in 1988, when it was expanded to 18 holes. The golf course is a classic, parkland layout carved through the woods along isolated corridors without homes or development along the course.

Norton Country Club is located off Route 95 or Route 495 exits that will get you to 188 Oak Street in the town of Norton. Use of a vehicle GPS system is advised to negotiate your way to Oak Street where the course is located, especially if you are unfamiliar with the Norton/Mansfield area.

The property includes an on-site clubhouse, restaurant, and a 1,600-square-foot pro shop stocked with all the essentials. Daily green fees fluctuate depending on the season and time of day. The course is open to the public at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sunday, and holiday mornings. There are two practice greens available for putting and chipping but no driving range on site.

My round was played from the white tees due to wet conditions that somewhat hindered the distance once the ball hit the fairways making the course play longer than usual. Be prepared to use every club in your bag on this extremely difficult track, which measures 5,258 yards from the white tees with a course rating of 68.8 and a slope of 129. The one constant is water, which comes into play on 11 holes.

The course features four sets of tees that are interchangeable to allow golfers to adjust their handicap to the right combination. Choose wisely, as this course is relatively tight especially on the front nine, with undulating fairways that will affect ball movement and hinder your normal distances with your club selections. More