Review: Meadow Brook Golf Club

Course Name: Meadow Brook Golf Club

Designer: Rob Roy Rawlings (1929), Roger Rulewich/Dave Fleury (2010, Redesign)

Location: Richmond, Rhode Island

History: Originally opened in 1929, the Hendrick family (Exeter, Richmond) bought Meadow Brook in 2006. It was redesigned and completely renovated by Roger Rulewich and Dave Fleury in 2010. The new design has received many accolades including #2 public course in Rhode Island by Golf.com in 2014 and #3 public course in Rhode Island by Golfweek in 2015.

Conditions: 8/10, Meadow Brook is always in amazing condition, with beautiful thick rough, and nicely manicured bunkers and fairways.

Value: 8/10, Meadow Brook is one of the best values in the state. At peak hours, it will cost you $75 to ride and $60 to walk. If you walk at twilight, you can play this gem for $30. There are also senior rates and off-season rates.

Scorecard:

Tee                      Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Black                  72           7468              75.4               132

Blue                    72           7086              73.3               129

Green                72            6532              70.6               123

Silver                 72            5898             67.7               114

Red                     72            5308              69.5            118

Best Score: 76 (Green Tees), 5/20/2017 with Mike S., and Sam P.

Front 9 Best: 36 (Green Tees), 5/20/2017 with Mike S., and Sam P.

Back 9 Best: 40 (Green Tees), 5/20/2017 with Mike S., and Sam P.

Hole Highlights: Almost certainly, the clubhouse was meant to be built by the 1st tee instead of the 2nd. For whatever reason, it wasn’t and the trek to the first tee is somewhat annoying and dangerous. The first hole could be the 18th, but it’s not that strong of a hole so that’s probably why. Ranging from 374 yards to 431 yards, this hole plays downhill with OB trees on the left. The teeshot is somewhat blind and a small creek crosses the fairway about 50 yards short of the green. This creek shouldn’t really come in play on the approach, but drives will need to be short of it.  A short par 5, the 2nd ranges from 486 to 523 yards. Outside of a heavily sloped green, the most difficult part of this hole is the drive. You must carry it about 200 yards to the fairway and avoid two spacious bunkers on the left and right sides of the fairway. As a medium length dogleg left, the 3rd hole is supposed to be one of the “easiest” on the course. For whatever reason, I find this drive to be very challenging, as trees jut out on the left side of the fairway, almost necessitating a draw to hit this tight tree-lined fairway. The most difficult par 3 on the course, the 4th hole ranges from 178 yards to 261 yards from the back tees.  This hole is fairly open but a tiny pot bunker short left of this green spells trouble for many players.

Undeniably the most difficult hole on the front 9, the 5th is the number 1 handicap and plays between 432 and 481 yards. In addition to the brutal length of this hole, the drive is quite narrow and uphill. Take bogey here and don’t look back. The shortest hole on the course, the 6th is straightforward but can play varying lengths due to it’s huge green. Putts over 100 feet are not unusual here.  The 7th hole is my favorite on the front 9. Ranging from 371 yards to 408 yards, this wide par 4 features a dual fairway split by bunkers similar to the 13th at Bethpage Red. The 8th hole is the 3rd handicap hole as a long par 5. Although straightforward, this hole is pretty tight requiring precise drives and layups. The 9th is a fairly unremarkable finishing hole that plays between 361 and 397 yards. Narrow and uphill, I usually hit iron off the tee here from the Green Tees to hit the fairway and avoid a large bunker on the left.

The back 9 is the clearly superior side at Meadow Brook and this is evident when you step on the 10th tee box. This beautiful par 3 is surrounded by water on all sides and plays downhill between 160 and 200 yards.  The 11th is a really solid par 4 that ranges between 376 yards and 421. Your drive must carry a bit of the 10th pond and stay right a large bunker on the left side of this fairway. Although this fairway is pretty generous, the green is tiny and dense woods line both sides of this hole. The 12th is a behemoth wide open par 5 that plays between 538 yards and 603 yards. Length and good bunkering are the main defenses here, and you almost always feel worn out after playing this hole. The 13th is one of the shortest par 4’s on the course at only 362 yards from the Green Tees. It is the most open hole on the course, but bunkers in the middle of this fairway make it a risky hole to hit driver on. This is definitely a hole you can play several different ways.

Ranging from 399 yards to 449 yards, the 14th is a long narrow par 4 that is somehow the 16th handicap hole. The 15th is a majestic par 5 and their most difficult hole on the back 9. Playing between 569 and 649 yards, this monster of a hole is heavily tree-lined on the drive. On your second shot, you will want to avoid a large bunker jutting out on the left side of the fairway about 170 yards from the green. Your final approach will have to carry a valley of fairway to an elevated green. The 16th plays as a slight tree-lined dogleg left between 404 and 442 yards. This is another hole I just don’t see many pars. After being beat up by length on the back 9 thusfar, the finishing two holes actually provide good scoring opportunities. The 17th is a medium length par 3 over water that can play a variety of distances due to the fact that this green is probably 50 yards deep. The finishing hole is one of the shortest on the course but is beautiful. Water lines the entire left hand side of this par 4, and hitting this narrow fairway is very difficult. Many players bail out right and end up in the rough. Three large bunkers loom behind this green, and a downhill lie in these will virtually guarantee a skulled shot into the water. The 18th hole finishes at the 1st tee box and the long trek back to the parking lot is not a fun one, especially if you play at twilight like I do.

General Comments: While the clubhouse is cozy and spacious, the practice facilities at Meadow Brook are lacking. There is a small putting green by first tee and no driving range. It’s worth noting that the first teebox is actually about 500 yards from the clubhouse, and many players start on Hole 2. Pace of play has been pretty good when I’ve played.

Verdict: While Newport National is the prized gem of Rhode Island public courses, Meadow Brook is underrated in my opinion and offers better value and fantastic conditions. This is a course I would recommend to anyone in the area.

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