Review: Green Valley Country Club

Course Name: Green Valley Country Club

Designer: Manuel Raposa (1957)(1980, Redesign)

Location: Portsmouth, Rhode Island

History: Green Valley opened in 1957 as a short 9 hole course, and expanded to 18 holes in 1966. Owner and designer Manny Raposa worked tirelessly on the course and by 1980, Green Valley expanded to its current day 6830 yard layout. A formidable test, Green Valley was the first public course to host the Rhode Island Amateur in 1995. In 1997, it hosted the Rhode Island Open.

Conditions: 8/10, Built on lush farmland, Green Valley is always in fantastic shape, with thick rough and bentgrass fairways. My only complaint is that the greens never seem to roll true. They’re fast and smooth, but grain definitely plays a significant role on every putt.

Value: 5/10, Although semi-private, public golfers can play Green Valley at pretty fair prices. It will cost you about $70 with a cart but only $30 to walk after 3 P.M. in the summer.

Scorecard:

Tee                                   Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Championship              71           6830               72.3              128

Mens                                71           6641               70.8              125

Seniors                            71           6091                69.1             123

Ladies                              71          5447                 70.8             118

Hole Descriptions: Make no mistake: Green Valley is a challenging golf course. So hard, in fact, that my father and I (both 10 handicaps at the time) failed to make a single par the first time I played here. Why is it hard? Well, it’s long. At over 6800 yards from the Tips, this is a lengthy par 71. Secondly, the course is built on elevated farmland squeezed between two bays; wind is always a factor here. Finally, the greens at Green Valley are some of the hardest in the state. Fast, grainy, and undulating, many golfers will struggle to two-putt from over 10 feet.

On the opening hole, a 370 yard straightforward par 4, it is the narrowness that is difficult. Trees line the left side of the hole while houses line the right. There are two bunkers on this hole – one in the right rough at 190 yards and one just short of the green. The 2nd hole immediately shows Green Valley’s length as an uphill 461 yard par 4. Requiring the player to navigate a chute of trees immediately off the tee, this hole is fairly straightforward after this. The 3rd hole is one of my favorites at Green Valley as a 397 yard slight dogleg right. Trees jut out on the right side of the hole, obscuring the view of the green. Drives too long or left will be in danger of being blocked out by trees and a rock wall. The approach shot here is one of the prettiest on the course with large trees appearing straight out of Northern California framing this well-bunkered, back-to-front sloped green. At 550 yards, the par 5 4th is the only three-shotter on the front nine, but plays more open than the preceding holes. The major danger off the tee here is bunkers on the right between 240 yards to 270 yards. This hole plays relatively straightforward after these, with a large green guarded by bunkers on both sides.

The 5th is the first par 3 on the course and plays uphill at 190 yards. Chunked or topped drives will find a pond, but the main defense here is a well-bunkered highly back-to-front sloped green. At 404 yards, the 6th is another fairly open dogleg right except for a bunker on the left side of the fairway at 255 yards. The approach shot runs downhill to an undulating green and provides one of the best views of the Bay. In my opinion, the 7th hole offers the best birdie chance on a brutal front nine. At just 360 yards downhill, this hole is certainly drivable given the right conditions. Golfers looking to drive the green will have to contend with a narrow fairway and water on the left at 280 yards. At 210 yards, the uphill par 3 8th usually plays into the prevailing wind. Although wide open, this hole requires a well-struck driver or 3-wood, and pars are to be cherished here. Rounding out the front nine is an uphill 433 yard par 4 with a blind teeshot. This hole also plays into the wind. Relatively wide open, the only real danger here is a bunker on the left at 240 yards.

The back side is somehow longer than the front, mainly due to the prodigious 10th. At 613 yards, many claim this to be the longest par 5 in Rhode Island. Despite its brutal length, this hole plays downhill and downwind so it usually plays much shorter. Try to find the plaque in the fairway where somebody holed out for double eagle! At 229 yards, the 11th hole is a bland, yet brutally long par 3. This wide open hole features a large back-to-front sloping green guarded on either side by a bunker. The 12th hole is another par 3, and the easiest at only 147 yards. Picturesque, this hole plays over a small pond and features a giant, undulating green. Take advantage of this hole, as it might be your only approach with a wedge all day. The 13th is another relatively benign hole as an uphill 342 yard par 4. The right side is wide open, but the left features OB along the entire hole. This circular green is guarded short right by a deep bunker. At 451 yards, the par 4 14th is a very challenging long par 4. OB runs down the entire left side and the pond from the 12th hole comes into play just right of this green. Be wary of the false front on this back-to-front sloped green.

As a straightaway 340 yard par 4, the 15th is the shortest par 4 at Green Valley. This hole is flat, and somewhat shielded from the wind. Two trees on either side of the fairway between 150 yards and 190 yards force the golfer to be accurate with his/her teeshot. The 16th is a narrow 407 yard par 4 with a tiny pond protruding about 310 yards on the left side of the fairway. As long as you can avoid this, this hole becomes fairly straightforward. At 548 yards, the 17th is another long par 5 that plays uphill and into the wind. This hole slides slightly to the right but is fairly open off the tee except for a bunker on the right at 240 yards. I recommend staying left on your lay-up, but beware of a blind bunker about 70 yards short of this green. I’m not a huge fan of the sharp dogleg right finishing hole. The driving range’s net lines the right side of the hole and is honestly an eyesore that makes it difficult to find balls. Straight drives can only travel about 220 yards before running through the fairway. Like most greens, this one runs back-to-front and is guarded by bunkers on either side.

Best Par 3: 5th Hole, 190 yards, 11th handicap. Narrowly edging out the 12th, the 5th is a beautiful uphill par 3 that arguably plays as the hardest one-shotter at Green Valley, despite being shorter than 8 and 11. Two cavernous bunkers guard either side of this very quick back-to-front sloping green.

Best Par 4: 3rd Hole, 397 yards, 13th handicap. This hole masterfully takes advantage of the property, utilizing a rock wall and farmland to frame this hole. A dogleg right, this hole requires accuracy off the tee to find the fairway. This approach runs downhill to an undulating green guarded by bunkers on either side.

Best Par 5: 10th Hole, 613 yards, 2nd handicap. This is the most famous hole at Green Valley as one of the longest par fives in the state. While this hole plays significantly shorter downhill and downwind, very few golfers will be able to reach in two. Somebody who did? The guy who made double eagle from this fairway and has a plaque in his honor.

General Comments: While nearby Montaup and Newport National don’t have ranges, Green Valley has a busy range with mats. The practice green at Green Valley is huge and gives you a good indication of how the greens on the course will play. Pace of play has always been decent, probably because the golfers that play here are generally better players than most public courses in the state.

Verdict: While my least favorite of the courses on Aquidneck Island, Green Valley is an underrated public course that certainly holds its own. I highly recommend this course to any skilled golfer looking for a new challenge, as this is one of the most difficult courses in Rhode Island.


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