Review: Wentworth Hills Country Club

Course Name: Wentworth Hills Country Club

Designer: Howard Maurer (2001)

Location: Plainville, Massachusetts

History: Opened in 2001, Wentworth Hills has changed hands several times and is currently owned by the owners of nearby Heather Hills Country Club.

Conditions: 8/10, Workers were constantly working on the course when I played, and it showed. The greens were fast and rolled true, and the fairways were striped and manicured. This is one of the best conditioned public courses in Massachusetts.

Value: 5/10, I somehow qualified as a junior as a 22 year old and paid $30 to walk 18. Seniors and twilight golfers also get discounts, but this course is a bit steeper for others. It costs $48 on weekdays with a cart and $66 on weekends.

Scorecard:

Tee                     Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Gold                  71            6202               71.0              128

Blue                   71           5817               68.0              125

White                71           5325               65.3              120

Red                    71           4731               66.8              116

Best Score: 86 (Gold Tees), 7/20/2016 with Dylan

Front 9 Best: 40 (Gold Tees), 7/20/2016 with Dylan

Back 9 Best: 46 (Gold Tees), 7/20/2016 with Dylan

Hole Descriptions: I will start out by describing this course with two adjectives: strange and narrow. At just over 6200 yards, this is very much a target golf course, and errant drives will not play well.

The opening hole is an odd one. A 378 yard dogleg left, this hole requires a 220 yard carry to the fairway. Once you hit the fairway, this hole turns sharply left to a two-tiered green that’s almost impossible to two-putt on the wrong tier. The 2nd hole is a solid downhill par 3 at 146 yards. Woods left and two short bunkers make this short hole a little more difficult. The 3rd hole is the very challenging number 1 handicap hole at 400 yards. From an isolated teebox, this hole is similar to the 1st in that it requires a carry of 200 yards to the fairway. From this fairway, the hole turns sharply left, with water and dense forest guarding the left side of the fairway. The approach here is back uphill over a hazard to an elevated back-to-front sloped green.

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View from the very difficult par 4 3rd

While the 3rd hole is a little tricked out, the 4th hole is a solid golf hole. A 395 yard narrow tree-lined par 4, this green lies on a mound surrounded by steep slopes. A missed approach shot here leaves an extremely challenging up-and-down. The 5th hole is a reachable 505 yard par 5 and like many holes on this front side, a driver is not needed here. The miss on the drive is right, as thick trees line the entire lefthand side. This hole narrows considerably as you get closer to this deep but narrow green. Running parallel to each other, the 6th and 7th holes are fairly similar tight, tree-lined par fours. The 6th hole plays 394 yards, with reeds and water occluding the fairway 220 yards off the tee. While carrying these reeds is an option, give me long iron all day off the tee here. The 7th is tighter and only plays 342 yards. Water lines the right side of the hole for the final 60 yards all the way to this severely back-to-front sloped green.

The picturesque 8th hole is my favorite hole at Wentworth Hills. This 159 yard par 3 features water left and short, and dense woods long and right. You must hit this narrow, deep green in regulation to have any chance at par. The 9th hole plays 400 yards from the Gold Tees as another sharp dogleg left. A carry of 170 yards is needed to reach this fairway, but marshland juts in the left side of the fairway at 230 yards. Right after the marshland, this hole runs slightly uphill to a square green.

Perhaps it’s because I was dehydrated, but I found the back nine a lot more intimidating and challenging than the front nine. The first three holes were especially devastating. At 428 yards, the downhill 10th hole features OB on the right and tall trees lining the left. An even more claustrophobic tee shot looms on the 376 yard 11th. With a forced carry of over 215 yards and OB encroaching on both sides, a drive in the fairway is the only chance at par here. While not overly long, the par 5 12th is also tight and runs extremely uphill. A series of bunkers lines the right side of the fairway in the lay-up area. After these demanding holes, Wentworth Hills changes its tone in a very strange way with two reachable par fours in a row. The 13th hole plays only 268 yards from the back tee, requiring nothing more than a mid-iron to leave a pitch in. You cross a bridge into Rhode Island to reach the generous 288 yard 14th, but the fact that you’re in a new state doesn’t absolve the sin of back-to-back throwaway holes.

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This course contains 4 holes in Cumberland, RI

The 15th hole is an exceedingly narrow 494 yard uphill par 5 with trees lining both sides the entire way. A fairway bunker on the right side at 265 yards catches many well-struck drives. A blind bunker 60 yards short of this green on the left places a premium on the layup as well. After inexplicably pairing two poorly designed par threes in a row, Wentworth Hills contains two similar par threes in a row just one hole later. The 16th hole plays slightly downhill at 176 yards to a deep green guarded by two bunkers on the left. Playing complimentary to the neighboring 8th hole, the 165 yard 17th features water on the short and right of this heavily undulating green. The tight finishing hole plays straight uphill at 392 yards to an elevated, back-to-front sloped green. Two deep bunkers short of this green catch many balls and leave a nasty up-and-down.

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The par 3 17th has a large water hazard on the right

Best Par 3: 8th Hole, 159 yards, 9th handicap. Playing almost exactly the same as its neighbor the 17th, this beautiful medium-length par 3 plays the entire way over water to a long, narrow back-to-front sloped green. The only bailout you have is short right.

Best Par 4: 10th Hole, 428 yards, 4th handicap. I had trouble choosing one par 4 at Wentworth Hills, as many of them blended together as tree-lined target golf holes. I settled on the challenging 10th not only because it’s a strong hole, but also because it sets a precedent for a much tighter, intimidating back side. Playing downhill at 428 yards, this hole is actually more generous off the tee than it appears, but thick forest on both sides of this fairway are no doubt intimidating.

Best Par 5: 5th Hole, 505 yards, 10th handicap. The longest par 5 at Wentworth, this hole is still reachable with a good drive. The entire lefthand side is heavily tree-lined while the right is more sparsely populated. Both the lay-up and approach to this tricky green are made much more difficult by alternating bunkers on both sides of the fairway for the final 75 yards.

General Comments: I didn’t visit the driving range, but the practice green was large and consistent with the greens on the course. Pace of play was decent, and several groups actually let us play through, which is a rare occurrence on public courses. One complaint I have is the lack of water available – we almost passed out walking on a hot summer day.

Verdict: Wentworth Hills is a beautiful, well-conditioned course that flies under the radar. It is certainly one of the best public tracks in the area and one I recommend.

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