By Jim Hammond
Rehoboth, Mass – Did you know there are approximately 9,562 golf courses and country clubs in the United States, but only one is named after a white pigeon?
The city of Phoenix, located in the valley of the sun, is named after the mythological bird that rose from the flames and was born again. Well Hazel was a white pigeon that used to tail along after Joe Moniz, the owner of Crestwood Country Club in Rehoboth, Mass. And Moniz has brought Sun Valley golf course back to life and has done it in grand style.
Sun Valley, an 18-hole course in Rehoboth was opened back in 1959 and was designed by the legendry Geoffrey Cornish. It was a flat, and challenging course with almost every fairway framed by weeping willow trees. Joe Moniz lived near the course and he and his golfing pals would play Sun Valley every week.
Unfortunately, over the years, the course was not well maintained, “When you went into the pro shop you had to hold your nose” said one employee at Hazelton. Hurricane winds toppled many of the trees and the course was overgrown with weeds. But salvation was just down the road.
In 2012, Joe Moniz became the owner of another course that was also designed by Cornish. Crestview was an upscale course that was only a Bryson DeChambeau drive down the road from the now defunct Sun Valley.
“I have such fond memories of Sun Valley that I wanted to make the investment necessary to provide a great course for the area public-golfer that I myself enjoyed for so many years,” he said in a recent interview. “I think it has been well-received so far.”
Moniz consulted with an architect who had worked with the Geoffrey Cornish design firm. Moniz became the owner in 2015 and, so far has invested a lot of money to bring the course back to life. The old Sun Valley course now has 35 new tee boxes, greens that were rebuilt and seeded with a new type of bent grass seed, and an updated irrigation system. The new grass seed works very well. Putt a ball on the greens at Hazelton and the ball will roll like it’s on a billiard table.
The course, like many championship courses has five sets of tees to accommodate golfers of all levels. But Hazelton has taken an extra step and set up an orange set of tees that is appropriate for novice and junior golfers. There are four tees that are short par 4’s, with the balance of the holes being par 3’s. If you are up for the challenge, the gold tees play close to 6,800 yards.
Moniz continues to make improvements at Hazelton Golf Club. A beautiful new clubhouse built of light-colored stone opened recently, and they are offering live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. A practice range, which will be created parallel to the parking lot, is also in the planning stage.
Hazelton is just off route 44, only about a 15 minute drive from Providence.
Oh yes, the white pigeon. A few years back a white racing pigeon started hanging around Crestwood. As Joe checked out things at the clubhouse the pigeon would follow him around the grounds. When Joe re-opened Sun Valley he decided to name the course Hazelton in the friendly bird’s honor. I don t know where Hazel is now, but if she is flying over Hazelton these days, she is sure to coo her approval.