A Day at Bluejack National
On a mild and cloudy day in October, I had the pleasure of playing Bluejack National. Located just south of Montgomery, Texas, Bluejack features the first Tiger Woods Design golf course in the U.S. and overflows with homage to Augusta National. While it’s not as impossible to join as Augusta, Bluejack is meant to challenge the bounds of exclusivity.
This is much more than a private club in the woods for rich and famous. With already established amenities like the Playgrounds (a small wedge par 3 course) and the Place (a PGA TOUR player worthy practice facility) and soon to be completed amenities like the Fort, the ultimate outdoor recreation center (featuring a movie theater, Fenway inspired wiffle park, football field, skate park, zip line and ropes course), Bluejack National is a way of life. The biggest perk, though, is the course.
The Bluejack National Course
Built atop an old uber private turned public golf course, Bluejack National seems out-of-place among the uninspiring golf courses the Greater Houston Area is known for. With one cut of Zoysia across the entire course and no rough, Bluejack offers a type of challenge the normal golfer can only experience on television during the Masters week. Bluejack hides its ominous difficulty underneath the rolling beauty of the pine tree laden property and this difficulty becomes clear after your first putt on the first hole.
My group of Dallas Morning News golf course raters discovered just how difficult the greens could be immediately on hole 1. This was not a fluke. Bluejack’s common theme is the increase in difficulty as you approach your last shot. Don’t let the lack of green side rough fool you. Yes, you can putt from anywhere around the green, however, do not let this unique Houston area golf feature lure you into a false sense of confidence, up and downs on Bluejack National require immense skill.
For a course with an abundance of forgiveness off the tee, minus a few water hazards in play, Bluejack packs an incredible amount of bite. Luckily, two comfort stations, positioned on the front and back nines, soothe your wounds. These “comfort stations” as Bluejack conservatively calls them, are far beyond a typical halfway house.
The Bluejack National Comfort Stations
The first, a “fruit stand” located just off the 6th tee (one of the shortest and most difficult holes on the front nine) possesses almost every snack, treat, protein bar, candy, beverage and consumable you could imagine. The sheer amount of choices reminds you of an amazing scene from Harry Potter, where only magic could offer such an abundance in such a small space. The second, a “jerky shack” at the intersection of the 11th green and the 17th tee brings the Bluejack signature punch. With various seating, the Jerky Shack offers homemade beef jerky, homemade brisket tacos and a homemade Bluejack Ale.
Where the Fruit Stand on the front nine recharges you in preparation for some tough, but scoreable holes, the Jerky Shack lures you in and you don’t want to leave. Unlike the rest of the course which hides its difficulty with beautiful views, the Jerky Shack overlooks the challenging 12th tee shot, a mid iron down into a pond protected green. The 12th becomes an even more difficult hole after taking a load off with some jerky and Bluejack ale. A conservative shot to the left side of the green is recommended.
Recommendations are certainly not something you should ignore at Bluejack. Several holes are impossible to par from out of position. Playing with Bluejack’s pro, Rich Barcello, allowed our group to get an inside view of how to play the course. Following his recommendations, Bluejack is one of the most playable courses I’ve ever seen. It’s playability is only matched by its mercilessness. A bad tee shot 11 placed me out of position on the hole and despite my best effort, I could not make up the shot.
Final Thoughts on Bluejack National
The mixture of difficulty and beauty is precisely what I love about Bluejack National. Some would say the greens are repetitive bowls sloped back to front and the lack of difficulty off the tee detract from its value as a course. I disagree. Everything about Bluejack fits into this correlated theme like a perfectly written story. While alot of earth was obviously moved around to create this incredible course, playing Bluejack you get this feeling that everything was already there and they simply added tee markers and cups for each hole.
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