Review: Valley Country Club

Course Name: Valley Country Club

Designer: W.H. Follett (1925, Original 9), Geoffrey Cornish (1964, New 9), Ian Scott-Taylor (2002, Redesign)

Location: Warwick, Rhode Island

History: Donald Ross’s protege W.H. Follett designed the original 9 hole Valley Ledgemont Country Club in 1925. After a name change in 1949 and the formation of  Ledgemont Country Club in Seekonk, Mass, Valley looked to add 9 holes to the design and this was accomplished in 1964 by Geoffrey Cornish. In 2002, Ian Scott-Taylor came in and blurred the differences between the two designs

Conditions: 8/10, Valley is always in good shape. The greens stand out as fast and smooth, while the fairways, rough, and teeboxes are also very well-kept.

Value: N/A, This is a private course. However, Valley CC is well-known for having some of the best membership rates in Rhode Island, especially for juniors and young adults.

Scorecard:

Tee                           Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Black                       72          6673                72.5               130

Blue                        72           6458               71.7               129

White                      72          6175                70.1              127

Red                          72           5636               72.6              125

Hole Descriptions: By virtue of its two different designers, the holes at Valley drastically differ. Holes 1, 5-11, and 18 were designed by W.H. Follett using classic old school principals like tiny greens and strategic bunkering. Holes 2-4 and 12-17 were designed by Geoffrey Cornish, well-known for his characteristic large back-to-front sloped greens.

The opening hole is a short par 4, measuring only 344 yards from the Blue Tees. This hole features a downhill teeshot to a fairly narrow fairway guarded by trees on both sides (especially the right). There’s a pond just short of the right fairway but it only requires about 150 yards to carry. There are two bunkers just short right of this severely undulating green. The number 1 handicap 2nd hole at Valley is infamous for its extreme length (609 yards from the tips). Despite this length, the hole plays straight downhill and is essentially wide open. If there was ever a hole to grip it and rip it, this would be it. There are two fairway bunkers to be wary of on this hole – one on the right about 170 yards from the green and one about 75 yards short of the green. The green on this hole is classic Cornish: large and sloped back-to-front.

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The wide open downhill par 5 2nd

The 359 yard 3rd hole plays parallel to the 2nd back uphill. This hole is also fairly open but plays longer than the scorecard indicates. Once again, the most difficult aspect of this hole is the severe back-to-front sloped green and large, deep bunkers to the left and right of it. The 4th is an interesting par 4 at 373 yards. This hole plays uphill as well and is a much tighter than the previous two. Tall trees flank the right side of the fairway and a bunker at  240 yards on the right catches its fair share of teeshots. The left side is more open but you’ll have to hit over trees and a rock wall about 90 yards from the green. The green on this hole is once again large and sloped from back-to-front.

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View from the par 4 4th tee

At only 494 yards, the extremely narrow par 5 5th features OB along the entire left hand side and trees and a pond on the right. Hitting the fairway is essential here, and hitting less than driver might be the prudent play. In my opinion, this is a three shot hole no matter what because holding a wood or long iron on this elevated and extremely small green is highly unlikely. OB and three tiny bunkers surround this green.

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The approach on the par 5 5th

The 6th plays as the shortest hole on the course as a devilish 133 yard par 3. This uphill one-shotter features an insane hourglass green that slopes hard both left-to-right and back-to-front. Three putts and even four putts are not uncommon here.

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The uphill short par 3 6th

At 378 yards, the straightaway par 4 7th is a solid hole. Flanked by tall trees on the right and the driving range on the left, this green is the smallest on the course and lined by two large bunkers on either side.

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The 7th could use some tree-trimming

The par 3 204 yard 8th is the longest par 3 on the course, but plays much shorter due to an extreme downhill gradient. This green slopes hard left-to-right and is guarded by a bunker on the right.

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The great downhill par 3 8th

The 387 yard 9th hole is a solid par 4 that features a blind uphill tee shot. Out of bounds lines the entire right side of the hole while the driving range lines the left. There’s an old cemetery behind this large undulating green.

I enjoyed the 387 yard 10th hole, which is a great driving hole. You tee up directly in front of the patio with the flagpoles surrounding you. Drives that carry a fairway bunker about 230 yards on the right side will catch a downhill slope. While the drive on this hole is picturesque, the three-tiered back-to-front sloped green is unfair at times.

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View from the 10th teebox

Providing the most claustrophobic teeshot at Valley, the 360 yard 11th runs downhill lined by dense forests on both sides. The approach shot to this green is straight uphill and club selection is key here, as this green slopes hard back-to-front.

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The intimidating par 4 11th

Although I’m never usually a proponent of making a par 3 a stroke hole, the 4th handicap 12th hole is undeniably difficult. At 187 yards, this hole requires a carry the entire way to avoid a pond and deep cross bunker in front of this green. Balls lucky enough to hit the green in regulation will have to contend with another ridiculous double tier that sometimes makes three putting inevitable.

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Take a look at the slope in the middle of the 12th green

The 387 yard (common theme at Valley?) 13th is a narrow downhill par 4 lined by sporadic trees on both sides. The most notable feature on this hole is a double green it shares with the 15th. Water lies directly behind this green so be sure to stay short here. The 365 downhill par 4 14th is a confusing hole the first time you play it. A pond lies directly in front of this tee box and it’s not immediately clear where you should aim. Once you hit this tight fairway, the hole is fairly easy, requiring only a wedge into a long, narrow green.

I will never understand how the 331 yard 15th is the number 2 handicap hole. Yes, it’s uphill and decently narrow but a 5 iron is all you need to leave yourself a wedge into this double green. At only 457 yards, the par 5 16th offers a great chance for golfers to grab a shot back with a good drive. This hole narrows quite a bit in the layup area, so going for this large green in two might actually be the play. My cousin almost made an albatross here in a tournament with Driver-8-iron. On a course with an strong set of par threes, the 17th is their signature hole. At 174 yards, this hole plays uphill and requires a carry over a pond and false front.

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The beautiful par 3 17th

The closing par 5 is a strong hole at 544 yards. This drive runs downhill with trees on both sides, while the approach shot and layup are both uphill and blind. What really struck me about this hole is how tiny this green is – definitely difficult to hit and hard to get up-and-down.

General Comments: With two expansive practice greens and a 250 yard range, Valley has pretty solid practice facilities. Pace of play when I played was fantastic and multiple members even let us play through.

Verdict: Valley isn’t an elite private course by any means, but it is a fun, challenging layout with some memorable holes. I recommend playing this well-kept course if you get a chance.


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