Course Review: Crystal Lake – October 20, 2021
This week I played Crystal Lake Country Club. Crystal Lake is an 18 hole public course in Mapleville, Rhode Island on Broncos Highway.
Crystal Lake is an interesting course that has more pluses than minuses.
One unique feature is that the club-owned driving range is a short drive ~ and not adjacent to the course. It is good for guests to have a range to warm up, but it is not a strong point of the golf experience. The range is often not well maintained with thick, often uncut grass to hit off. This week was an anomaly.
The grass hitting area was well maintained but guests were required to hit off the mats. Many guests find the range unfriendly: There are no bathrooms and the ball dispenser does not take credit cards or make change. If you go to the ATM and only bring $20s with you, you are not hitting balls. The machine takes money in increments of $5 / $8 and $10 (large bucket). The range is short with few intermediate targets to focus on.
The range balls use to be in horrible shape. You now will likely find more balls than not that are worth hitting.
The course itself is interesting. It is built on a sand pit and absorbs water very well. If you are looking forward to playing a morning round of golf but it has rained hard the night before, you will want your tee time to be at Crystal Lake. Overall the topography of the course is wanting.
The land – once owned by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in the early 70’s ~ has a large source of water – Sucker Lake; so large that the course is lacking enough land and some holes had to be jammed in during the design. The lake is officially known as Sucker Lake but changed to Crystal Lake for obvious reasons.
The weekly rates are $54 with a cart up to $74 with a cart on weekends. We found the course in very good condition and the greens are much nicer than one would expect for a high traffic blue-collar public course.
The course layout has some strong par 3s – including esthetically pleasing ones on the 2nd and 11th holes ~ with dramatic downhill shots. You will find some very short, uninspiring par fours that will leave better players frustrated with anything less than a tight putt for birdie.
The most often heard criticism of Crystal Lake is the back to back par fives on the front nine (holes 5 and 6). Due to the lack of land ~ Sucker lake takes up a full 70 acres ~ the course architect was forced to jam in two par 5s back to back with the 5th having out of bounds stakes inside the course.
It is a soulless par 5 with no risk reward aspect. It generally requires a long iron to mid iron off the tee, a mid iron lay up and then a short iron into a hard surfaced green that often repells good approach shots. It could be the worst golf hole in Rhode Island The second par 5 is simply a longer par 4.
The back nine is much easier that the front nine and has some very unsatisfying holes.
The 18th is short dogleg left and is a weak finishing hole.
However, given the good course conditions, reasonable greens fees and a few good holes, I still recommend the course.
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