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. In 1964, Geoffrey Cornish added 9 additional holes that are very different than Follett’s original design. In 2002, Ian Scott-Taylor came in and blurred the differences between the two designs

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

Value: N/A, this is a private course.

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

Best Score: 86 (Blue Tees), 8/5/2015 with Dylan

Front 9 Best: 42 (Blue Tees), 8/5/2015 with Dylan

Back 9 Best: 44 (Blue Tees), 8/5/2015 with Dylan

Hole Highlights: By virtue of it’s 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, 3, 4, and 12-17 were designed by Geoffrey Cornish, well-known for his characteristic large sloping greens. Hole 1 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 is 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 one of the most talked about due to it’s 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 in Rhode Island, this would be the hole. 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. The 3rd hole at Valley plays parallel to the 2nd back uphill at 359 yards. This hole is also fairly open but plays longer than its distance on the scorecard. Once again, the most difficult aspect of this hole is the severely sloping back to front 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 about 240 yards out on the right side catches plenty of teeballs. The left side is more open but you will 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.

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 play honestly. In my mind, this is a 3 shot hole no matter what because the green is elevated and extremely small. OB and three tiny bunkers surround this green. At only 133 yards, the shortest hole on the course is the devilish par 3 6th. This uphill par 3 features an insane hourglass green that slopes hard both from left to right and back to front. Three putts and even four putts are not uncommon here. At 378 yards, the straightaway 7th is a very 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. The par 3 204 yard 8th is the longest par 3 on the course, but plays much shorter due to an extreme downhill elevation change. This green is also quite undulating from left to right. The 387 yard finishing 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 side. There is a very old cemetery behind this green.

The 387 yard 10th hole 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 green on this hole is 3-tiered and often unfair at times. Easily the most claustrophobic teeshot at Valley, the 360 yard 11th runs downhill lined by dense forest 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. Although I am usually never a proponent of making a par 3 a stroke hole, the number 4 handicap 12th hole is undeniably difficult. At 187 yards, this hole usually plays into the wind and 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. The 387 yard (common distance at Valley?) 13th is a narrow downhill par 4 lined by sporadic trees on both sides. The most notable feature on this hole is the double green it shares with hole 15. Water lies directly behind this green so the safe play is to be short.

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 its not immediately clear where you should aim your drive. Once you hit this fairway, the hole is fairly easy, requiring only a wedge into this 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 off the tee to leave yourself a wedge into this double green. At only 457 yards, the par 5 16th offers a very good birdie chance with a good drive (my cousin eagled this hole in a tournament). This hole narrows quite a bit in the layup area, so going for this large green might actually be the play if you have the chance. On a course with an absolutely fantastic set of par 3’s, the 17th is definitely their signature one. At 174 yards, this hole plays uphill and requires a carry over a pond. This green is decently large but quite sloping. The finishing par 5 plays a very strong 544 yards. The drive is downhill with trees on both sides, while the approach shot and layup are both uphill and blind. What really struck me about this hole was how tiny this green was – definitely difficult to hit and hard to get up and down.

General Comments: With 2 expansive putting/chipping greens and a full range for most players, Valley has pretty impressive practice facilities. Pace of play when I played was fantastic and multiple members even let us play through.

Verdict: Valley is a fun, challenging layout with some very memorable holes. It is always in good shape and I recommend playing this course if you get a chance to.

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