Some country clubs can do completely without hype or notoriety, eschewing “branding” for pure mystique. The developers of Bluejack National in Montgomery (55 miles northwest of Houston) have embraced the buzz that comes with being home to Tiger Woods’ US. golf course design debut and with being one of the very-few new upscale golf communities to launch in recent years. Simply put, the Beacon Land Management team knows what it has and they’re excited to share the story.
“We called this place Bluejack National for a reason, because we want it to feel like a national golf club (the same way the Pine Valley, Augusta National and Cypress Point are revered), and, truthfully, we get people from all corners of the country showing curiosity,” says Beacon Land vice president and co-founder Casey Paulson.
In the deep forest that was once the site of Blaketree National Golf Club, Bluejack National has taken the best parts of country club life, discarded the rigid and stuffy ones, and offered discerning golfers and homebuyers a chance to enjoy a refreshingly “deconstructed” interpretation of the modern club community experience.
“We weren’t interested in building another club that took golfers away from their families or put stress on their time,” Paulson says. “Everything about Bluejack National, both culturally, from an amenities standpoint, is about bringing the family together. You’ll find this place more like a destination resort than a typical club.”This summer, the first phase of Bluejack National’s innovative recreational hub, called The Fort, opens. Soon, The Fort will be home to a 60-yard flag football field, a whiffle ball park called “Little Fenway,” pools, a lazy river, a zipline course, stocked (and staffed) fishing lakes along with tennis and other recreational amenities. A spa, movie theatre, eight miles of hiking and biking trails and world-class dining will also help complete the “vacation” ambiance in this elegantly-forested community.
From a golf standpoint, validation is coming fast and emphatically for Bluejack National. GOLF Magazine named it the best new golf course in the country in 2016 while Golf Digest tabbed it as the Best New Private Course of 2016. The recent Dallas Morning News rankings of the 100 best golf courses in the state saw Bluejack National debut at number three, hurtling past some of Texas’ most venerable and respected courses. Only Whispering Pines and Dallas National ranked higher.
The golf course consistently draws enviable comparisons to Georgia’s revered Augusta National Golf Club, thanks to exhilarating elevation changes, the majestic pines, unadorned white sand bunkers and wide, sweeping Zoysia grass fairways. “The land is more along the lines of something that you would find in Georgia or the Carolinas. We’ve designed a course that emphasizes strategy and creative thinking,” Woods says.
The stunning par-3 12th, with a creek fronting a shallow green, looks so much like Augusta National’s 12th, you’ll swear you smell pimento cheese (and not just the decadent slow-smoked Tri-Tip from the nearby comfort station). Other corridors, flanked by thick, towering pines and showing off a rich contrast of emerald Zoysia and stark-white bunkering, will have you doing double takes.
From a playability standpoint, Woods was adamant that the fairways would be exceptionally generous and that the green complexes would allow for a variety of approaches and short game shots, especially shots that use the ground much more than is possible on most modern designs.
“Tiger loves August National, but his favorite place to play is The Old Course at St. Andrews. He talks about getting the ball on the ground and being able to putt from wherever. He talks about once having an 85-yard putt at St. Andrews. I think he was able to bring a lot of those elements here successfully,” Paulson says.
Bluejack National presents exhilarating shot values at every turn. The fairways are firm and fast and the approach-shot angle is key on every hole. An innovative and endlessly-fun 10-hole short course called The Playgrounds is a must-play on every visit to Bluejack National.
As Houston continues to grow, Montgomery seems closer to “civilization” than it ever has. That factor and ever-growing infrastructure in the local area are good signs for Bluejack National’s real estate sales.
Following the aesthetic traditions of classic American architectural styles, The Woodlands-based architect Justin Tipler and his team have designed four distinct real estate offerings: small but luxurious Member Suites, Cottages with three- and four-bedroom floorplans, spacious Sunday Homes and 257 custom Estate homes offered on half-acre to one-and-one-half-acre lots.
“We’re only getting closer and closer to Houston and The Woodlands and more roads will lead there in coming years,” Paulson says. “Combine that with the high quality of schools here and the uniqueness of the community and I think you’ll see a lot of families who just won’t be able to resist this quality of life.”
Golf is an industry in desperate need of fresh ideas that attract and keep golfers and their families engaged in the game. With that in mind, Bluejack National’s culture and master plan is one worth copying.
“We know our members can get a ‘country club experience’ anywhere. We want every day here to feel special. When you develop a community like this, it’s nice to be considered the cool and trendy spot, but the real, long-term goal is to be timeless,” Paulson says.
If that’s the goal, Bluejack National is well in on its way.
By Carl Mickelson
OTL Golf Writer