Review: Wood River Golf

Course Name: Wood River Golf

Designer: Wesley Thompson (2000)

Location: Hope Valley, Rhode Island

History: Built on an old chicken farm, Wood River is a family-run public course.

Conditions: 6/10, while the greens are slow, they roll true. The fairways and teeboxes are in pretty good shape overall. There is not a single bunker on the entire course.

Value: 7/10, the price might be the best thing about Wood River. It is also one of the oddest, as you can pay for 11 holes, 13 holes, or 18 holes. 18 holes walking will only put you back about $20, which is about as good of a deal as you’ll get in the area. There is also an unlimited golf deal after a certain time.

Scorecard:

Tee                           Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

White                      69          5273                65.3               114

Red                           69          4452               65.9               107

Best Score: 81 (White Tees), 8/8/2013 with Ben S.

Front 9 Best: 39 (White Tees), 8/8/2013 with Ben S.

Back 9 Best: 42 (White Tees), 8/8/2013 with Ben S.

Hole Descriptions: Well off the beaten path, this course is fairly quirky. The first 12 holes and 18 are essentially open farm fields with teeboxes and greens. Holes 13-17 are some of the strangest holes in the state and nothing like the other 13 holes. Both times I played here, I got the feeling that most golfers only played 11 or 13 holes (or less if they couldn’t stand the pace of play!). The 1st hole at Wood River is a short par 5 measuring 453 yards. This is a severe dogleg left that takes almost a 90 degree turn about 240 yards from the teebox. For longer hitters, there is a creek running across this fairway about 270 yards from the teebox, and trees on the left will start to come into play. This hole is definitely reachable in two with a good drive – just beware of the trees overhanging on the left. The 2nd hole is a short, simple 152 yard par 3 with a sloping green. The 3rd hole is another very simple design at 332 yards. This uphill par 4 is really just open and features no hazards the entire length of the hole. Another par 3, the 4th hole plays downhill at 185 yards. This is a legit par 3 made more difficult by trees to the right and behind this green.

The 445 yard short par 5 5th is the last par 5 on this par 69 track. This hole is very claustrophobic off the tee with trees all along the right side and a large tree right in the middle of this fairway. While the tree in the fairway undoubtedly makes this hole more difficult, it simply should not be there and frequently punishes good shots. After this tree, the hole slides slightly to the right, with trees lining the right and an old metal barn lining the left. You can hear balls clanking into this barn quite often on the front 9. The barn is in even more danger on the 315 yard dogleg 6th that requires you to drive it over the edge of the barn. This short hole is probably the best scoring opportunity on the course with a good drive. At 217 yards, the par 3 7th is a serious hole due to its length, and the fact that this green slopes hard back-to-front. At 331 yards, the odd 8th hole is the number 2 handicap hole for good reason. At about 215 yards from the tee, there is a creek, and the hole goes straight to the right after this. Balls short or to the right will be blocked out from this green. I would call the 9th hole the finishing hole, but that would be incorrect on this course, which finishes on the 11th hole. The 315 yard 9th features a chute of trees you must navigate by the teebox and a dogleg left. The right side of this hole is completely open.

The short but sweet 153 yard 10th hole is the most picturesque on the course and the only one that feature a body of water. This hole requires all carry over a pond to this green. The finishing 11th hole plays uphill as another short par 4 at 305 yards. Once again, you must drive it through a chute of trees. This left side is open on while balls to the right will hit the restaurant/clubhouse. Players that pay for 13 holes will then cross the clubhouse to go to holes 12 and 18. I will review them in that order because most people play the course that way. Hole 12 is another short, wide open par 4 at 315 yards. There’s a giant tree right in front of the left side of this green that almost necessitates a layup to the right side of this fairway if you’re stuck behind it. The finishing 18th hole is rather disappointing as a bland, straightforward 155 yard par 3.

Holes 13-17 are across the street, and extremely strange and rugged. I was in constant fear of a bear mauling the entire time. The 13th hole is only 300 yards but literally straight uphill and tight. Trees line both sides of this hole and you will certainly be out of breath by the time you reach this severely back-to-front sloped green. The 14th hole was one of the strangest and worst designs I have ever come across. From the teebox, the green is only about 100 yards from you on this 265 yard U-shaped dogleg. Tall trees block your view of the green and force you to hit a short iron out and short iron back to the green. As the only par 4 over 400 yards, the 400 yard downhill 15th is an extremely fun driving hole. Dense forest guards the entire righthand side of this dogleg left and the landing area for this hole is fairly narrow. At 330 yards, the par 4 16th is the number 1 handicap hole and a very difficult hole despite its short length. It is also the hole we were yelled at on by the maintenance worker for driving too close to the teebox, which is garbage because the holes on this side of this road are very poorly marked. This hole runs straight uphill and features a massive valley about 200 yards from this tee. You’ll need to stay short of this valley on the drive, then carry it on your approach shot to a perched green. The 305 yard 17th hole is once again straight downhill and drivable. This might be the tightest hole I’ve ever played, and I’m still not convinced this hole even has a fairway and isn’t just an extremely long par 3. There’s a bird farm behind this green and some of the noises emanating from that place are rather disturbing.

Best Par 3: 10th hole, 153 yards, 9th handicap. The only hole with a water hazard on the entire course, this picturesque one-shotter is framed by trees and requires a carry the entire way to the green.

Best Par 4: 15th hole, 400 yards, 3rd handicap. Found in the midst of a strange collection of holes across the road, this downhill dogleg left par 4 features a severely elevated teebox and is actually a really fun driving hole.

Best Par 5: 1st hole, 453 yards, 4th handicap. The first of two par fives at Wood River, this dogleg left is wide open on the drive but calls for an accurate second shot to this green. This is definitely a birdie hole with a good drive.

General Comments: I have to begin with the restaurant attached to the golf course, which is absolutely fantastic. I would play here just for the food and drinks afterwards. There is no range at Wood River, and I don’t remember there being a putting green either. Pace of play has been absolutely miserable both times I’ve played this course. The first tee was heavily backed up and it easily took 3 hours to play 11 holes both times. Oddly enough, almost nobody plays holes 13-17 (discussed above), so you can get those holes in in 30 minutes or less.

Verdict: The quirky design and slow pace of play are huge detractors from Wood River, but the conditioning and prices are above average. The restaurant inside is worth going to even if you don’t play here.

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