Review: Pawtucket Country Club

Course Name: Pawtucket Country Club

Designer: Club Members (1902, 9 holes), Willie Park Jr. (1924, Redesign)

Location: Pawtucket, Rhode Island

History: Founded by five prominent businessmen in 1902, Pawtucket Country Club has stood the test of time even when the surrounding industrial city of Pawtucket hasn’t. Originally a 9-hole course laid out by the membership, the Club purchased additional land in 1924 and recruited famed architect Willie Park Jr. to construct a championship design.

Conditions: 7/10, Pawtucket Country Club is a well-conditioned course notable for especially strong greens. However, there are some barren spots here and there, especially in the rough.

Value: N/A, This is a private course, although declining membership makes it one of the best values as far as privates go. Like nearby Agawam Hunt, GolfNow.com has also begun offering rounds to the public.

Scorecard:

Tee                           Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Blue                        69           6500               71.1              122

White                      69          6247                70.0              120

Gold                        69           6055                69.1              117

Red                          73           5850                73.6              121

Hole Descriptions: Straddling the Massachusetts-Rhode Island line, Pawtucket Country Club is a classic Willie Park design that flies well under the radar, even within the Providence region. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that the City of Pawtucket has been on a downward spiral since the course’s inception and not many people think “golf” when they think of Pawtucket. The consequence of this financial trouble, however, has likely served Pawtucket C.C. well compared to a course like Agawam Hunt that brought in so many different architects over the last century that the current course is a hodgepodge of styles. Pawtucket was never able to afford any major revisions, and while it could use some tree removal, Willie Park’s lovely layout remains pretty much untouched since 1924. The result is a well-thought out routing with many strong par fours over 400 yards and a wonderful variety of greens. Like nearby Wannamoisett, Pawtucket is a par 69 and uses every inch of space imaginable on a small property.

The opening hole is just fantastic and serves as a sign of what’s to come. At 389 yards, this semi-blind dogleg left par 4 features an intimidating uphill teeshot over the practice green and a pond. Additional water and trees line the far left, and a strategically placed bunker guards the left at 210 yards. Trees also line the right, but drives over these leave a decent approach into a wonderful back-to-front sloped green guarded by a bunker left.

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The par 4 1st

The 2nd hole offers another claustrophobic teeshot as a straightaway 416 yard par 4. This long par 4 features OB left while a line of trees runs down the right. This fairway exhibits excellent land movement and hitting this green can be challenging from these awkward lies. This two-tiered green slopes back-to-front with bunkers guarding long, left, and right.

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The approach at 2

Although only 379 yards, the par 4 3rd hole is one of the more difficult holes at Pawtucket with a blind, severely uphill teeshot over a plateau. Once again, OB lines the left, while tall trees run down the right. Once you reach the fairway, this hole is pretty straightforward with a level approach to an undulating green lined by bunkers on either side. What goes up must come down and that’s especially true for the 4th hole that runs parallel to the 3rd. At 380 yards, this hole plays straight downhill and firm conditions make it play significantly shorter. Finding the fairway is imperative here, as tall trees line both sides of a tight fairway and a bunker guards the right at 230 yards. This green runs back-to-front and is guarded by bunkers long and right.

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Some tree removal is needed to let the rough breath on the 4th

After four diverse par fours to start, the 5th hole is the first par 3 at 188 yards. If I had one criticism of Pawtucket, it’s that the par threes don’t provide much variety and you’ll likely hit the same club on all of them ranging between 170 and 188 yards. Despite this, the 5th is the best of the group and plays slightly uphill to a left-to-right sloped green lined by bunkers on either side. One thing I particularly enjoy about this hole is the way the teeboxes are built into the hillside creating numerous options for the golfer.

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The classic par 3 5th from the lowest teebox

The 6th hole is another long par 4 playing 414 yards. This is a pretty forgettable hole playing straightaway with overgrown trees on both sides of the fairway. The only notable feature of this hole is a tricky back-to-front sloped green defended by bunkers on either side.

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The par 4 6th

The 7th hole is an excellent par 3 playing downhill at 173 yards. This one-shotter features penal bunkering short, left, and right and a steep embankment long so any missed GIR here will hurt the scorecard. The 8th hole is the lone par 5 at Pawtucket, and is a true three-shotter running uphill at 542 yards. This is a relatively straightforward hole with a wide fairway and trees down the right the entire way. This green slopes back-to-front with bunkers on either side. At 449 yards, the lengthy par 4 9th hole is deserving of its number 1 handicap. This slight dogleg right is fairly open off the tee, but its length and incredibly undulating green make par a great score here.

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The long par 4 9th

After a long, awkward walk, the 10th hole is one of my favorite holes at Pawtucket. At 435 yards, this is another brutal long par 4 that plays a bit uphill to an undulating fairway that suits my eye well. OB lines the right but only comes into play for longer hitters. This elevated green is well-guarded on both sides by bunkers but you’re almost thankful for the left bunker which protects balls from tumbling all the way down a steep slope.

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The uphill par 4 10th

The 308 yard 11th hole is designed to be a reachable par 4, but truthfully I find it to be one of the weaker holes on the course. With OB right the entire way, the golfer is forced to decide whether or not going for this tiny green guarded by bunkers short is worth it.

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The short par 4 11th

At 451 yards, the 12th hole is the number 2 handicap and longest par 4 at Pawtucket. A slight dogleg right, this strong hole features OB down the right and trees down the left that are in play if you hit it through the dogleg. Once you reach the green, the fun’s just beginning with a wildly undulating two-tiered surface lined by bunkers right and long. The 13th hole is a nice 186 yard par 3 that plays slightly uphill to another tricky green guarded by L-shaped bunkers short on either side.

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The par 3 13th

The par 4 14th plays straightaway uphill at 375 yards with OB right and a line of trees down the left the entire way. Like the 3rd, this hole features a semi-blind teeshot and is notable for its severe back-to-front sloped green defended by bunkers on either side. The 15th hole is the final par 3 at Pawtucket and unfortunately feels very familiar at 170 yards. This hole features a large, sloping green lined by bunkers short, left, and right and a steep embankment long.

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The par 3 15th

The closing stretch at Pawtucket is extremely strong beginning with the stout 432 yard par 4 16th. Playing almost identical to its neighbor 6th, this long, straightaway par 4 features a tight fairway lined by overgrown trees on both sides. This green plays as a punchbowl with bunkers on either side.

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The tight par 4 16th

At 434 yards, the 17th hole is another long par 4 that’s fairly open off the tee to a sloping fairway. This elevated green is guarded by a bunker left and devilish false front you absolutely must carry on the approach. A hump in the middle of this back-to-front sloped green makes any long putt extremely challenging.

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The approach at 17

After plenty of long, difficult par fours, the closing hole is a shorter par 4 at 379 yards. In addition to being a great scoring opportunity, this is also a great hole. This approach is gorgeous to a small, back-to-front sloped green surrounded short, left, and right by tiny bunkers. The clubhouse and patio sit majestically behind this green and serve as an excellent amphitheatre for tournament play.

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The approach at 18

General Comments: Like many courses from its era, the practice facilities at Pawtucket are rudimentary at best with a practice green by the clubhouse and a net to hit balls into. Pace of play is always great here due to a declining membership.

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Pawtucket’s practice green

Verdict: In an area saturated with fine private golf courses, Pawtucket is quite underrated in my opinion. This is a classic Willie Park Jr. course with fantastic hole designs and plenty of challenge for better players. I highly recommend Pawtucket, especially now that the general public can gain access.


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