Review: Cranston Country Club

Course Name: Cranston Country Club

Designer: Geoffrey Cornish/Bill Robinson (1974)

Location: Cranston, Rhode Island

History: Designed in 1974 by the duo of Geoffrey Cornish and Bill Robinson, Cranston CC has hosted the Cleveland Tour as well as several R.I.G.A. events. The state High School Tournament is held here annually.

Conditions: 7/10, The conditions here are usually pretty good. The teeboxes, fairways, and rough are well-kept. My major complaint is that the greens are on the slower side. Considering how large they are, you almost have to take full swings to get it to the hole.

Value: 4/10, A bit overpriced, Cranston CC will cost you $59 on a weekday with a cart. Even to walk 9 holes, it’s $27 at it’s cheapest. There are also no discounts for twilight, seniors, or juniors.

Scorecard:

Tee                     Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Black                 71           6914               74.0               131

Blue                   71           6493               72.0               127

White                71           6109               70.0               123

Red                    71           5199               69.8               123

Best Score: 83 (Blue Tees), 8/19/2017 with Mike S., Greg P., and Griffin W.

Front 9 Best: 45 (Blue Tees), 8/19/2017 with Mike S., Greg P. and Griffin W.

Back 9 Best: 38 (Blue Tees), 8/19/2017 with Mike S.

Hole Descriptions: In many ways, Cranston CC is a prototypical Geoffrey Cornish course, characterized by large greens, tree-lined fairways, and a fair share of weak holes. I do applaud Cornish, however, from putting a little more effort into these greens, which have more subtle undulation and more variation than his usual back-to-front. Although the front side contains the famous island green 8th hole, the hillier back side is the superior side, despite several holes with powerlines a la Swansea Country Club.

The front 9 is relatively flat and open beginning with the 533 yard opening hole. Although OB looms far left, this hole is pretty much wide open, allowing players to rip driver with their first shot of the day. This hole features fairway bunkers on both sides of the fairway about 230 yards from the tee and a devastating, large fairway bunker about 80 yards short of this green.

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The approach to the par 5 1st – avoid the fairway bunker on the left

The 2nd hole is a bit more intimidating from the tee. At 365 yards, this slight dogleg right features a large clump of trees buttressed by rock wall on the right side, blocking out any drives that go right. Meanwhile, the left side narrows with OB as the hole slides gently right. This is a birdie hole, however, with a good drive.

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It’s important to keep your drive left of the trees on the par 4 2nd

At 390 yards, the 3rd hole is a straightforward par 4 notable for its gigantic green that spans over 50 yards back to front. Three putts are common on this heavily undulating surface. After the long, unremarkable 215 yard par 3 4th, the 5th hole is one of the hardest holes on the front. At 376 yards, this narrow par 4 is lined by trees on both sides. Your drive must carry 200 yards to reach the fairway over water and then again must carry a pond on the approach to a severe back-to-front sloped green.

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The long par 3 4th yields few GIRs
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The 5th teeshot is one of the hardest shots at Cranston CC

The 6th hole is a funky 367 yard par 4 with a narrow left-to-right snaking fairway. You can be blocked out by either the right or left trees here and must contend with a tiny pond short left of this green on the approach. The green here is two-tiered, running straight back-to-front. The 7th hole is a 366 yard dogleg left which requires either a right-to-left ballflight or a straight drive shorter than 230 yards to avoid running through the fairway.

The 8th hole at Cranston CC is one of the most famous in the state. At 150 yards, this hole features a kidney-shaped island green that is very wide yet very shallow. Wind often makes club selection difficult here, and I put several into the water when I played the first time.

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The famous island green at Cranston is difficult to hit

The 9th hole is boring yet difficult as a straightaway 447 yard par 4. This number 1 handicap hole is fairly generous off the tee, but its prodigious length forces many players to attack this green with wood or long iron. Multiple bunkers surround this difficult back-to-front sloped green.

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The closing hole on the front runs back towards the clubhouse

I only played the front 9 the first time I played Cranston, and was fairly unimpressed by the flat, unremarkable layout. The back 9, however, has elevation changes and is routed well in comparison. This is clear on the 10th, a fun 380 yard dogleg left that features a blind downhill teeshot and blind uphill approach. A tree about 240 yards on the left side of the fairway shouldn’t be there, but the fairway is generous enough so that golfers can aim right. Your approach shot plays longer than it looks to a difficult green with a false front. Par is a great score on this hole.

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View of the 10th from the start of the fairway

At 392 yards, the 11th is another nice dogleg left from an elevated teebox. It’s hard to tell due to the algae, but a pond juts into the left side of this fairway between 200 and 265 yards from the tee, making this a tough driving hole. Like the preceding hole, the approach here runs back uphill.

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The 11th tee – I couldn’t tell there was water on the left and ended up wet

The 12th is the shortest hole at Cranston as a pleasant 136 yarder. Running uphill, remember to take about half a club extra on this hole. Large bunkers flank the sides of this narrow green.

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The par 3 12th – home to my first birdie at Cranston CC

At 510 yards, the 13th is the only reachable par 5 at Cranston, but doing so would require two great shots. This dogleg left’s fairway is generous, but any misses right will be lost in the woods. There’s a pond for the final 75 yards before this green which must be carried the entire way to reach. This narrow green runs extremely hard back-to-front.

 

The 373 yard par 4 14th plays similar to some holes on the front as a flat, tree-lined dogleg right. This hole is relatively innocuous, but just does nothing to stand out. The 185 yard 15th, however, is one of my favorite holes at Cranston CC. This pretty, tree-lined par 3 runs downhill to a V-shaped green guarded by a bunker on the left. The hole was in the front the day we played, leaving some very quick putts from above the pin.

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The walk to the par 3 15th

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the wide-open 383 par 4 16th. Featuring a blind uphill teeshot, this hole is open except for another inexplicable tree smack dab in the middle of this fairway 210 yards from the tee. If you can avoid the tree, you’ll be left with only a short iron in to this back-to-front sloped green.

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The par 4 16th features another ill-conceived tree in the middle of the fairway

At a strong 550 yards, the beastly par 5 17th would’ve be a strong hole were it not for the unsightly and loud (the ricochets from these things were unbelievable) power-lines that border the right side of the hole. Your drive here is uphill, with a bunker on the left at about 200 yards, and small ponds on the right for the first 200 yards. From the fairway, you are presented a choice on the lay-up to stay short or carry a creek about 130 yards short of the green. From the edge of the fairway, this hole runs uphill, making an already long hole feel that much longer.

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Power-lines dominate your view on the 17th teebox
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The uphill approach on the par 5 17th

The closing hole at Cranston CC is one of my favorites on the course as a strong 375 yard par 4. With electric wires above you, you can hear the volts of electricity surging through as you stand on this elevated teebox. This double dogleg features a wide landing area on the left and difficult approach shot playing straight uphill to a shallow green. The optimal angle to this green is on the right side of the fairway because a tree might block you on the left.

Best Par 3: 8th Hole, 150 yards, 3rd handicap. Although a bit gimmicky, the 8th is easily the most memorable hole at Cranston CC with its island green. Though only a mid-iron is needed, hitting this green requires great touch due to the fact that you only have about 15 yards of green to work with.

Best Par 4: 18th Hole, 375 yards, 4th handicap. Although the double dogleg 5th at Bethpage Black is light-years better than this one, it’s hard not to see the similarities between the two. Running downhill right-to-left from an elevated teebox and then right-to-left back uphill to a perched green, this hole plays as a more forgiving, shorter, less visually appealing version.

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The double dogleg finisher is the best designed hole at Cranston CC

Best Par 5: 13th Hole, 510 yards, 10th handicap. Exponentially better than the boring 1st and power-line heavy 17th, the reachable 13th is a fun risk/reward three-shotter that features one of the prettiest teeshots at Cranston CC. It takes two superb shots to carry the water and reach this narrow green in two, but it can be done. Like all good short par fives, this hole will yield a wide variety from eagle to triples.

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Your view from the 13th teebox

General Comments: Cranston CC is a busy course, but rangers have patrolled pace of play well when I played. The practice green and range are both expansive. I can’t say the clubhouse is the prettiest I’ve ever seen, but it’s a popular venue for weddings and other banquets.

Verdict: Cranston CC is the premier public course in central Rhode Island, but left me underwhelmed. While conditioning is solid, typically lackluster Cornish hole designs do little to make this course stand out. Cranston CC is firmly in the middle tier of Rhode Island public courses at a top tier price.

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