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by John Cardullo
Way back in the wood among the evergreens there lies a 9-hole golf course, Coventry Pines Golf Course. A beautiful – and simply frustrating – piece of paradise.
In this second installment of our multi-part series on local golf courses in the state of Rhode Island, we head to the town of Coventry, to play at Coventry Pines.
Just minutes off Route 3 in Coventry, Rhode Island you will find this gem of a 9-hole golf course named Coventry Pines. It is a 3,032-yard par 35 course that makes it a wonderful course for the golfer who is just beginning to get into the game of golf, but it also is not as easy as it appears. Deciding how you want to attack the course will make you think hard about the club selection you may use, and that is what makes this simple little golf course a nightmare if you make the wrong club choice and attack decision.
Coventry Pines opened in 1959, at a time when many smaller golf courses were built, as the sport began to take off in popularity. Coventry Pines was a family owned course where the everyday golfer could come and play a sport that was considered at the time strictly for the wealthy. Not only did the owners of the course not conform to that way of thinking, they offered golf for all, going as far as having an “honor system” for those who wanted to play earlier or later in the day when there were no employees around. That system is still in effect today.
As most first holes are on a golf course, the hole is 330 yards and straight, to ease you into the flow. As you tee up you see trees on both sides of the fairway, and there are a lot of them. Because of the fairways being so narrow, an errant shot could get you in trouble fast. To make matters worse is the main road that leads you into the parking area runs along the left side of the first and second hole. The road is only protected by a string of trees that runs along the road, but a miscue could easily find the road or even a passing car. Hitting my driver off the tee I found my ball off the fairway in the rough to the right, my 2nd shot was pulled to the left side of the green, mis-hitting my pitch shot, I was still in the rough around the green. I pitched again and putted for an “easy hole” six. I walked away from hole one noticing that the putting surface was fast.
Hole two was another straight 295-yard hole with a small water hazard located after the tee box; it should not be a factor to solid shots off the tee, but still it makes you think. Small sand traps protect most of the holes on the course. I discovered at the 2nd hole the sand was more of the soft variety which makes it easier to blast out and on to the green, but blast out too hard, and you could find your ball on the other side of the hole off the green, which will give you more frustrating headaches. The putting greens at Coventry Pines are smaller than most courses and fast, mis-hit an approach shot, or hit a putt too firm and you can find yourself in a worse position than you were originally. Lucky for me my sand blast flopped onto the green and a two putt gave me a bogey 5 for the hole. So much for easing you into a round.
The 3rd hole is a 165-yard par 3 which is protected by two large pine trees on either side of the fairway with sand traps in play. My drive made it to the edge of the green and two putts later I recorded my first par of the day. However that would be short lived as I moved onto the 4th hole that could be either played as a par 4 or par 5 depending where you decide which tee location to choose. We opted for the 350 yard par 4. A small stream runs across the fairway about 125 yards from the tee box, and as with all hazards on a golf course avoiding trouble makes everything much better. With the exception of a 112 yard approach shot with my pitching wedge that came up short and in the ruff in front of the green, a better pitch and single putt gave me a respectable bogy 5 for the hole.
The par 4 378-yard 5th hole proved to be my trouble hole for the day. I noticed that this season there would be one problem hole in each round, and this was it. My drive was straight and in the fairway. Unfortunately I scuffed the bottom of my club before hitting the ball which slowed acceleration, but I was in the middle of the fairway. That didn’t last long, my 2nd shot was pushed far left and landed in a cluster of trees. The ball landed surrounded by trees with an opening where a pitch shot would get me out of trouble, and before another creek that was running about 80 yards before the hole. A perfect pitch to a lay up before the creek and another wedge puts me on the green for a two putt; 6 for the hole, taking my medicine I was onto the par 5 6th hole.
Because of the fairways being so narrow, an errant shot could get you in trouble fast.
As I was teeing up on the 6th, it occurred to me that Coventry PINES could not have been a more appropriate name, trees were everywhere and the pesky creek seemed to follow us on virtually every hole, including this one. The key to this course is to stay in the fairway or near abouts and stay away from any trees. As the case with any golf course you weigh the risk against the reward, with Coventry Pines sometimes going the safe way is the right way. With that thought in mind, I bogeyed the par 5 with a 31 on my scorecard, and three holes left to play. The par 4 7th hole was a 335 yard up hill fairway where you want your ball to be over the hill. Again I hit the drive “fat” (hitting the ground before hitting the ball), but the golf Gods were smiling on me, as my ball hit something hard on the fairway and jumped another 60 yards leaving me 100 yards to the green. My 2nd shot was a floater to the right of the green, a pitch and two putt later another bogey made it to my card.
Two more holes were left to play, as the temperature hit 87 degrees. The 7th hole is a 200-yard par 3, which coming off the tee you cannot see the green or the flag. The hole drops down out of sight. As you look toward where you think the hole should be, nailed to a tree in your line of sight is a bullseye target. Aiming towards the target and hoping gravity does its thing, my tee shot was off the green by a foot, and a two putt later we were off to the last hole. The par 4 9th hole is 307 yards, with a creek running halfway through the fairway. It is one of the easiest holes on the course and with another bogey I finished with a 10 over 45.
If you’re looking for a wide-open course to play, Coventry Pines isn’t for you, however if you like to play a course with a personality and has enough hazards to challenge you, Coventry Pines is the perfect course for players of every level.
I will give Coventry Pines an “A” rating. It is deceivingly longer to play than it looks and punishes bad decisions and club choices. The greens are on the smaller side and the surface of the greens is faster than you think for a course with a lot of shade. The course itself is in particularly good shape and well maintained. It is a fun course to play and the elevations and different terrains challenges the golfer. Coventry Pines is located at 1065 Harkney Hill Road, Coventry, RI 02816, telephone number is 401-397-9482. There are no Tee Times, it is first come first serve. The weekday and weekend pricing is the same, and the course amenities include a driving range, an indoor golf simulator, and an on-site Pro is available for lessons. A snack bar and pro shop is also available, and the course is also available to host golfing events. Coventry Pines is observing protocols during the Covid-19 pandemic.