It is not so far-fetched to imagine the next young golfing hotshot—a Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Paula Creamer or Michelle Wie—claiming Blissful Meadows in Uxbridge as his or her home club.
With PGA Class “A” Member Joe Griffin having recently returned to Chockalog Road as director of instruction, Blissful Meadows is putting fresh emphasis on grooming “juniors” (kids age six to fifteen) in the mechanics of the game.
A member of the golf team during his collegiate days at Worcester State College (now University), Mr. Griffin began his PGA career at Blissful Meadows in 1994. His resume also includes eight years with Dick’s Sporting Goods in Natick as PGA pro and regional trainer, and a stint with Golfsmith—also in Natick. “Coaching” is in his blood, as evidenced by the duties he has carried coaching baseball, basketball and soccer in Hopedale.
He and Blissful Meadows’ Gordon Bliss have set an ambitious agenda for what they want to see happen in 2015. Mr. Griffin’s smorgasbord of responsibilities will include individual and group golf lessons, junior golf clinics, women’s golf clinics, club fitting and club re-gripping. He will also work with the Douglas and Uxbridge scholastic golf teams to build their programs. His first junior golf clinic, in April, drew six participants including four girls, which he finds encouraging. Youth instruction at Blissful Meadows is pegged to youngsters’ learning styles. Juniors, the club says, “are natural imitators. They learn by watching and doing.” Hence a focus on a sequence of instruction or demonstration: skill-building through coaching, and challenges with contests and games.
Mr. Griffin will be teaching all of these fundamentals: a full swing with irons and woods; chipping; putting; sand-bunker play; how play proceeds: teeing off, fairway shots, short-game rules and etiquette.
“We emphasize the importance of grip, alignment, posture and stance—all in an atmosphere of games and activities,” he says. “Our goal is to introduce juniors to golf, help them learn to play,
and watch their enjoyment of the game grow.”
Each clinic involves six hours of instruction. Summer junior golf clinics are already planned for July 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th (Session 1), July 13th, 14th, 16th and 17th (Session 2) and July 20th, 21st,
23rd and 24th. Cost is reasonable at $100 and Blissful Meadows offers a $10 sibling discount. The club’s commitment to juniors doesn’t end there. Blissful Meadows is also touting its “Get
Golf Ready Program.” “Give us five days and we’ll give you a sport for a lifetime,” its promotional literature says. Five days, one day per week for five weeks, Thursdays starting May
Last year, as further evidence that all-age players are welcome, Blissful Meadows held a “Family Golf Day” featuring nine holes of golf Scramble-style, chipping, putting and marshmallow long-drive contests and clinics.
“With Joe and the whole teaching aspect, we want to focus on this, and there’s a need,” Gordon Bliss told Valley Vibes. “With the two school leagues, we want to be more active with them. We’re looking to assist in their training. We want to offer more clinics for young kids. They want to play golf. We want to provide the training, teach them respect for their opponent, honesty. Golf has fantastic features. I know of no other sport where grandfathers and their grandchildren can come in and enjoy the game together.”
Youth instruction is the next great leap forward for Blissful Meadows, which claims a storied history. The course is built on land purchased by the Wood family from the King of England in 1726 when the town of Uxbridge was part of Sherborn, Massachusetts. Gordon and Jean Bliss bought the farm, house, barn, farm machinery and acreage in 1964 for $14,700. All seven of the Bliss children (even sons-in-law, now) have been involved in the operation of the course over the years.
The eighteen-hole championship layout was designed by renowned golf-course architect Brian Silva of Silva & Cornish in concert with Gordon Bliss and Gordon’s son Kevin. A step in many ways back to the quieter days of yesteryear, in a pastoral setting.
Rod Lee is a long-time local writer and observer of the Blackstone Valley scene and current president of the Webster Square Business Association in Worcester. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org