Reaching back to the Past, Looking to the Future
Robert McNeil Master Plan ready to enhance Newton Commonwealth Golf Club

In 2004, The Newton Commonwealth Foundation led by Mr. Frank Rice established a relationship with Robert McNeil, ASGCA Associate and Principal Golf Course Architect at the Northeast Golf Company to develop a Comprehensive Enhancement Plan for Newton Commonwealth Golf Club in heart of Newton, Massachusetts just outside of Boston.

The Newton Commonwealth Golf Club was originally organized in 1897 as a nine hole course called the Commonwealth Club, and was a spin-off of the old Allston Golf Club. Annual dues were $20 and a round of nine holes was 25 cents! By 1920 it had become an 18-hole course and was redesigned that year by the legendary architect Donald Ross, who lived in nearby Newton Centre. In the late 70's the then called Chestnut Hill Country Club, due to financial instability, was purchased by the city of Newton with the intentions of keeping the land free from development and offering public access to its residents.

Over the years peripheral residential development and the relocation of the clubhouse caused hole rerouting and a tightening of the layout.

The guiding principles behind the plan developed by McNeil were to recapture the Ross style and feel to the green surrounds, reconstruct and enlarge several greens, improve safety, execute an effective tree management program, expand teeing area and add to or rebuild the existing bunker complexes.

The Club has executed some of the safety measures along the property line and in 2007 installed a new irrigation system throughout the course. “There is now an environment to move forward with these exciting plans” said David Stowe, Director of Maintenance for Sterling Golf Management. McNeil and Stowe had worked together previously during improvements made at Robert T. Lynch Municipal Golf Course (formerly Putterham Meadows) in 1999 and their relationship has continued.

The first phase of work will address some functional issues while establishing a style to be carried forward through the rest of the course. The 7th plays as a dramatic par 3 dropping 60’ to a smallish green protected by fronting bunkers and a crossing creek. Currently the tees on the 7th hole are a mere 4200sf, unable to handle the nearly 45,000 rounds of golf played. The plan is to rebuild the tee complex enlarging the playable surface to 6800sf while selectively removing adjacent trees to open the playing corridor and improving the agronomic conditions.

The renumbering of the holes which was recommended in the master plan has now made the old 14th hole the finishing 18th. This 380 par 4 is the most strategic and challenging hole on the course and is worthy of a strong finish. Though the layout requires quality shotmaking, the features have weakened over the years and are subject to flooding. The new 18th includes all new bunkering, 8 in all with 4 clustered along the inside corner to direct players out long left to get the best angle into the green. The green is to be rebuilt and enlarged with surface contouring more consistent with Ross approach strategy. A run up opening to the hole will be maintained, but the surrounds and fall off areas around the surface will be demanding. Also, the green will be shifted slightly away from the clubhouse to improve safety.

Newton Commonwealth Golf Club
Newton Commonwealth Golf Club is located just minutes outside of Boston in Newton, Massachusetts on 103 acres in a peaceful park like setting. It is owned by the City of Newton, managed by the Newton Commonwealth Foundation and operated by Sterling Golf Management.

Redesigned in 1920 by the renowned architect, Donald Ross, the course is short but challenging, featuring quick greens and relatively narrow fairways. Course management is essential as many a big hitter has discovered, with water and sand bunkers appearing frequently.

The 18 hole, par 70 public course occupies features a sporty 5,354-yard rye/bentgrass grass layout on rolling along the hillsides of Newton with a rating of 67 and slope of 125.

For tee times or information about visit or contact Newton Commonwealth Golf Course, 212 Kenrick Street, Newton, MA - Phone: (617) 630-1971

About the Northeast Golf Company: The mission of The Northeast Golf Company is to provide clients with the best golf course design service tailored to meet their individual needs. To be the best requires focus on the business objectives of each client by providing a creative and strategic plan that responds to the inherent nature of the land, the players served and the project budget.

Robert McNeil operates as the team leader providing creative direction while bringing together the necessary expertise and overseeing every aspect of a golf course project to ensure that the vision becomes reality.

The McNeil Design Collaborative and McNeil Construction LLC design/build team approach combines years of experience in successful design, construction and project management.

"We take pride in developing relationships that are productive, long lasting and most of all fun, much like the courses we design." Robert McNeil

Contact: Robert McNeil, ASGCA Associate, Principal Golf Course Architect, The Northeast Golf Company
(401)-667-4994 in Saunderstown, RI – (732)-747-1888 Red Bank, NJ
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