Review: Goddard Memorial State Park Golf Course

Course Name: Goddard Memorial State Park Golf Course

Designer: Unknown (1939)

Location: Warwick, Rhode Island

History: The only course located in a Rhode Island state park, Goddard Park opened in 1939 next door to Potowomut Golf Club. There is a rumor that Donald Ross was involved in the design, but I could not find a confirmation.

Conditions: 3/10, some holes are better than others but be prepared for shaggy fairways full of crab grass, slow greens, and hardpan around the greens. The bunkers have been pretty nice here though.

Value: 8/10, while carts are more expensive, Goddard Park offers some pretty great deals, especially for seniors and children at $6 per 9 holes. For adults walking on weekends, it only costs $14.


Tee                     Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Blue                   36          3032                34.7               114

White                36           2954               34.0               111

Hole Descriptions: Although Goddard Park is a fairly short course, the 1st hole plays long as a 503 yard straightaway par 5 that usually plays into the wind. Sporadic pine trees line the fairways and unlucky players may get caught in them. The only other danger on the opener is a small bunker just in front of the right side of the green. The 2nd hole is actually a really strong design. At 377 yards, this slight dogleg right is a tough driving hole as a large tree blocks off the right side of this hole almost immediately in front of the tee. Drives that go over or slice right of the tree will go OB onto a busy road. The approach shot on this hole is fairly downhill and blind to a heavily sloped green with two tiers. The 3rd hole is a good solid 180 yard par 3 along the road with another big back-to-front green. The easiest hole on the course, the straightaway 292 yard 4th is very open and drivable for some players. The only defense here is a large bunker in front of this green that is hard to avoid when hitting driver.

The 5th hole is a very solid par 5 at about 500 yards. This hole features a plateau at about 250 yards and is fairly narrow at this landing area. From there, the hole is fairly open and straightforward until you reach an elevated, highly undulating green. The 6th hole is the most severe dogleg on the course. At 180 yards from the tee, this fairway turns sharp left and drives that go deep of this fairway will probably go in a large fairway bunker. The 7th hole plays extremely downhill at 168 yards, making club selection very important to hit this tiny green. The hardest hole on the course, the 8th is a 390 yard par 4 with OB right and trees lining the left side. What makes this hole extremely tough is its hourglass narrow green with bunkers strategically placed in front of it. The 9th is a pretty simple finishing hole at 321 yards. OB lines the left side while a huge crater looms well to the right. You tee up under a canopy of trees on 9, making it my favorite tee shot on the course.

Best Par 3: 3rd hole, 180 yards, 8th handicap. This long hole requires a long iron for most players to a large back-to-front sloping green. While this green is fairly receptive, two bunkers and a road to the far right will punish wayward shots here.

Best Par 4: 2nd hole, 377 yards, 4th handicap. While most holes with tall trees in the fairway are an anathema to me, this hole features a responsible tree to the far right side of the fairway that serves a purpose – to punish bad drives and protect cars on the road. Forcing players to fade the ball around this tee, this hole also requires players to make a leap of faith on their blind, downhill approach shot. Two bunkers with tall lips and a tiered green make this a sophisticated design.

Best Par 5: 5th hole, 500 yards, 3rd handicap. With similar length and direction, the 1st and 5th hole are rather similar, but the 5th offers several things the opener cannot: an elevated green, an undulating green, elevation changes on the fairway, and more hazards for wayward shots. Both are fairly average par 5’s in my book.

General Comments: While there is no official range, many players can practice hitting balls in a random Goddard Park field before playing. Instead of a marshall, players write their name down on a chalkboard behind the first tee to signify order. Unfortunately, Goddard Park’s pace of play is usually very slow, especially on the weekends. Its price and low-pressure atmosphere make this a perfect place for beginners.

Verdict: At Goddard Park, what you get is what you pay for. Because the course might be a Donald Ross design, the holes themselves are actually quite good but pace of play and conditioning move this course down on the list unless you’re really feeling a low-frills, old-school round of golf.

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