Review: Laurel Lane Country Club

Course Name: Laurel Lane Country Club

Designer: Bota/Thoren (1961, Front 9), Richard Holley Sr. (1970s, Back 9)

Location: West Kingstown, Rhode Island

History: Known as “The Gem of South County,” Laurel Lane opened as a 9 hole course in 1961 and added the back 9 in the 1970s. It is currently semi-private.

Conditions: 6/10, While the fairways and teeboxes were spotty in places, Laurel Lane was in serviceable shape. The greens rolled true and the rough was thick and healthy.

Value: 7/10, with plenty of discounts and solid rates already, you will be able to play here for under $30 most times of the week.

Scorecard:

Tee                      Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Blue                     71          6177                69.1             120

White                  71          6010                67.4             116

Red                       70         5447                68.1             118

Best Score: 82 (Blue Tees), 7/12/2013 by myself until the last hole

Front 9 Best: 41 (Blue Tees), 7/12/2013 by myself until hole 9

Back 9 Best: 41 (Blue Tees), 7/12/2013 by myself

Hole Descriptions: Designed by completely different designers, the two nines at Laurel Lane are so divergent that it honestly feels like you’re playing separate courses. The front is relatively flat and open while the back is extremely hilly and wooded.

The opening hole is their number 1 handicap hole and I’m not quite sure why. It’s narrow and decently long at 414 yards but it’s also relatively straightforward with no bunkers. The 2nd hole is a short dogleg right par 5 that’s fairly simple with a good drive. Trees line the right side of the hole, but the fairway is wide and there are no fairway bunkers. The 3rd hole is a straightaway, flat 189 yard par 3 with a hard back-to-front sloping green, while the 4th is another boring, straight 371 yard par 4 with no bunkers. I thought the 5th hole was the strangest on the front side. After four wide open flat holes, this hole is an incredibly narrow 352 yard par 4 that’s so tight that finding a good aiming point is difficult your first time playing. A tall tree on the left side near the green can complicate the approach shot. The 6th hole follows a similarly strange formula; at just 241 yards, this par four is uphill and features a pond that you must carry over 165 yards to this fairway. A tree flanks the left side of this fairway, making the drive a bit more intimidating.

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The view of the 6th from the green

A straightforward 212 yard par 3 follows, and is essentially just a longer version of the 3rd. To me, the 8th is clearly the best hole on the front 9. A dogleg left, this medium length par 4 features a group of bunkers about 250 yards out that longer players can carry and have a pitch into the green. Drives too far left will likely be blocked out by a line of trees on the left side of the fairway. The 9th hole is a fitting epitomization of the front 9. At 379 yards, this straightaway par 4 is fairly open and uneventful.

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The approach shot to the 9th

The back 9 begins with a challenging, tight dogleg right. At 400 yards, you almost have no chance to hit this green in regulation after missing the fairway. Trees and a small pond surround this green, making it difficult to hit with a longer iron.

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The approach shot to the 10th green

The 11th hole is a hole I had a tough time with my first time playing the course. At just 318 yards, this uphill par 4 features a narrow, blind teeshot and a large back-to-front sloping green. The 12th runs parallel to the 11th and is pretty much its opposite as a 329 yard dogleg right downhill par 4 with a wide landing area and narrow green. Playing 345 yards, the 13th is a tight uphill dogleg right. A large tree protrudes out into the left side of this fairway about 60 yards from the green and may block out approach shots from the left fairway.

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The tight teeshot on the 13th

The 14th is a difficult uphill 390 yard par 4 with OB in the form of the driving range on the right. After a long walk, the 15th is the first par 3 on the side at 169 yards. This is a strikingly beautiful hole and by far the best par 3 on the course. A canopy of trees frames this bean shaped green while a pot bunker just short right makes for a difficult up-and-down. I was not a huge fan of the boring short par 5 16th. At just 480 yards, this hole is considerably narrow with OB on the right side and a road lining the left side. This elevated green runs back-to-front and is protected by two left bunkers. After a boring 172 yard par 3, the finishing hole is without a doubt the best hole on the course. This long 548 yard dogleg left runs uphill and features a tight driving area guarded by trees right and a road left. A pond that crosses this fairway at about 310 yards is a rare strategic fairway hazard I enjoyed. It doesn’t punish long drives, but adds another layer of intimidation to an uphill lay-up. The clubhouse and patio directly behind this elevated green make for a picturesque ending.

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The beautiful approach shot on 18

Best Par 3: 15th hole, 169 yards, 16th handicap. Besides the fact that the other three par threes are glorified fields with greens, this is actually a pretty strong hole. With tall trees covering all sides, this hole requires a carry over a valley to a shallow back-to-front sloped green. Picking the right club off the tee is essential here; two deep bunkers (a grass and sand) guard the front of this green while up-and-downs over this green are almost unheard of.

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The best par 3, the 15th

Best Par 4: 8th hole, 385 yards, 7th handicap. My favorite of a pretty bland set of par fours, this dogleg left turns sharply about 260 yards from the tee. This hole is notable for a trio of blind bunkers at the left elbow of the dogleg that catch longer players trying to cut the corner. Like many holes at Laurel Lane, this green also runs hard back-to-front.

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The 8th hole offers players options

Best Par 5: 18th hole, 548 yards, 2nd handicap. A true three shot par 5, this challenging hole is tight off the tee with dense forest to the right and a road to the left. Hitting driver is imperative here due to a large pond that bisects this fairway about 310 yards from the tee. To have a reasonable shot at this green in three, you need to cross this pond in two. After the pond, this hole turns left and uphill to a difficult back-to-front sloped green. The clubhouse’s patio behind this green provides an excellent finishing visual.

General Comments: Although I didn’t use the range when I played, it’s no secret that Laurel Lane has some of the best practice facilities in the state. Pace of play both times I played was also fantastic, as the course wasn’t very busy. The Proshop workers were extremely friendly here…I will also say that it feels like you’re driving into an exclusive country club, with a tree-covered, scenic driveway running through the back nine.

Verdict: Located in an highly saturated area of good public courses, Laurel Lane offers great value and very strong practice facilities. It’s certainly not the best course in the area, but a round at Laurel Lane is always a fun one. If you only have time for 9 holes, I recommend the back side, as it has a lot more character.

 

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