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 burnt out fairways full of crab grass, slow greens, and hardpan around the greens. The bunkers and teeboxes are usually in good shape 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.

Scorecard:

Tee                     Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Blue                   36          3032                34.7               114

White                36           2954               34.0               111

Hole Descriptions: Although Goddard Park is more likely to be found in a punchline than top course ranking, some sources indicate Donald Ross might have played a role in the design, and I don’t doubt it. The variety here is strong and I particularly love the characteristic elevated greens surrounded by high-lipped bunkers. If this course were in better shape, it would almost certainly be one of the better 9-hole courses in Rhode Island.

Goddard Park is a fairly short course, but 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 golfers may get caught behind them. The only other danger on the opener is a small bunker just in front of the right side of the green.

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The approach on 1

The 2nd hole is a strong par 4. 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. While most holes with tall trees in the fairway are an anathema to me, this is a responsible tree that serves a purpose – to punish bad drives and protect cars on the adjacent road. Forcing golfers to fade their ball around this tree, this hole also requires a leap of faith with a blind, downhill approach shot. Two bunkers with tall lips and a back-to-front sloped green make this a sophisticated design.

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The view from the 2nd teebox
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The downhill approach on 2

The 3rd hole is a solid 180 yard par 3 along the road with another large back-to-front green. While this green is fairly receptive, two bunkers and a road to the far right will punish wayward shots here.

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The par 3 3rd

The easiest hole on the course, the straightaway 292 yard 4th is very open and drivable for some golfers. The only defense here is a large bunker in front of this green that is hard to avoid when hitting driver.

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The short 4th provides a good chance for birdie

The 5th hole is a decent par 5 at 500 yards. This hole features a plateau at about 250 yards and is fairly narrow at this landing area. From here, the hole is fairly open and straightforward until you reach an elevated, undulating green.

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The tight teeshot on 5
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My playing partner gets ready for the 5th approach

The 6th hole is the most severe dogleg on the course. At about 170 yards, this fairway turns sharp left and drives that run through this fairway will likely find a large fairway bunker. A tall tree blocks you from the cutting the corner and is a tree I’d like to see at least trimmed because it wasn’t meant to play so penal when originally designed.

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The 6th teeshot – note the tree overhanging the left
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The approach on 6

The par 3 7th hole plays downhill at 168 yards to a tiny green, making club selection of utmost importance.

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The par 3 7th

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 deserving of its 1 handicap is its shallow hourglass green with bunkers strategically placed in front of it. This approach requires precise distance control and unsurprisingly there are very few ballmarks on this green.

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The wide yet shallow 8th green

The straightaway 9th is a pretty simple closing hole at just 321 yards. OB lines the left side while a huge crater looms well to the right. You tee up under a canopy of trees here, making it my favorite tee shot on the course.

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The straightforward 9th

General Comments: While there’s no official range, golfers can warm up 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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