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REHOBOTH â€“ If you talk to golfers who play Rehoboth Country Club on a regular basis, one thing becomes clear.
â€śYou canâ€™t spray the ball on this course,â€ť East Providence native Luke Ring admitted. â€śI try to hit the ball in the middle of fairway and then get the ball on the green as quickly as possible. And that isnâ€™t easy. Rehoboth has distance and itâ€™s very narrow on most holes.â€ť
Pawtucketâ€™s Al Deroche, a retired firefighter, strikes a similar note.
â€śI just try to keep it between the trees,â€ť he said, a wry smile forming on his lips. â€śRight now, the rough is really tough. It can cost you a shot in some places, just getting out of the rough. But the thing about this course is, if you keep the ball in play, you can shoot a pretty good score.â€ť
The golf course was carved out of the trees in this leafy Providence suburb back in the mid-1960s. Founder Harry Shock wanted to build a championship golf course for public golfers. Few would deny Shock and architect Geoffrey Cornish succeeded in their mission. The golf course is celebrating its 45th season this year. Many of its players are customers who have frequented the course for several decades.
Shock, a Central Falls native, acquired the old Goff Dairy Farm property and converted it into a golf course that measures 6,760 yards from the back tees. The white tees play to a more manageable 6,340 yards and the yellow tees bring the course down to 6,090 yards. The golf course plays to 5,490 yards from the womenâ€™s tees. The various tees make the course a fair test for golfers of all levels.
Shock passed away in 1995. His three daughters took the business over, determined to improve the course. They rebuilt the clubhouse and kitchen grill. Golfers can play 18 holes and then stop in the clubhouse for a meal and refreshments afterwards.
The golf course starts with a straight-forward first hole of 380 yards (from the white tees). There is nothing too difficult here, or so it would seem. Then comes a 500-yard second hole which plays to a par five. With trees lining both fairways, accuracy on each of the first two shots is very important.
The par three third hole offers a short break, measuring in at 155 yards.
Then come the two most demanding holes on the front nine. The fourth hole is the No. 1 handicap on the golf course, a 550-yard par five that demands a straight tee shot and a solid second shot just to get down around the 150-yard marker. Depending upon which way the wind is blowing, the third shot could be anything from a wedge for the long hitter down to a metal wood shot for the medium hitters.
The fifth hole measures 400 yards from the tee. A seriously hooked tee shot will go out of bounds to the left side of the fairway. A big slice off the tee lands in the pond off the right side of the fairway. Another pond must be cleared at the 150-yard marker. The green is slanted uphill. Anything above the pin is potential three-putt territory especially when the greens speed up in warm and dry weather.
Hereâ€™s the good news. Rehoboth gets easier after the first five holes. The next three holes yield pars and the occasional birdie to golfers who can hit accurate shots into the green.
The ninth hole is a 410-yard par four that provides a strong finishing test to the front nine.
The back nine is a bit more woods-oriented than the front. Keep it straight off the tee on Nos. 10 and 11, which can yield birdies and pars. The 12th hole is a long par three that plays to 190 yards. It is followed by a 365-yard 13th hole. The 14th and 15th are also short par fours. The 16th is a 160-yard par three guarded by two bunkers.
Rehoboth closes with two great holes. The 17th is a 520-yard par five. The 18th is a 410-yard par four. If the wind is blowing in your face, bogey is a good score on both of these finishing holes.
Carl Magill, a lefthanded golfer who grew up in Pawtucket and now resides in Seekonk, plays Rehoboth two or three times a week. He enjoys the challenge of the golf course.
â€śI donâ€™t really have a plan for playing this course,â€ť he said with a laugh. â€śNot being in the woods â€¦ is that a plan? Really, I just try to stay out of the rough. Itâ€™s wet and heavy right now, with all the rain. The rough was so wet last week, I think it kept me out of the woods a few times.â€ť
All of the snow last winter and then the persistent rain this spring has its benefits, too. The greens have grown in full, allowing golfers to roll the ball truly to the hole. The speed of the greens has improved, too.
Rehoboth Country Club is a public course whose players often gather at the 19th hole to discuss their golf games. As a fellow said to me recently: â€śYou golf at Rehoboth? I played there once. It seemed like everybody knows each other out there.â€ť
He was right. Rehoboth is a friendly place to play golf.
Rehoboth has weekday specials from 7 a.m.-11 a.m. for seniors (55 and older) that include 18 holes and an electric cart for $35. The rate for all others during that time period is $40. Tee times can be made up to seven days in advance by calling the pro shop (1-508-252-6259). â€¦ Greens fees on weekends are $36. The price falls to $26 after 1 p.m.