...out of 4 GT logos, pending a future review.
In summary, while there's absolutely no question that Coventry Pines is a true Goat Track, we're going to rate it...
The 4th hole took the whole "walking on a waterbed" concept that we encountered at the 2008 GT Championship at Airways GC last August to a new level. It was amazing to see how much of the course was floating on subsurface water. We're not civil engineers, but purely out of coincidence, we played Chanticlair GC earlier in the week and discovered that a course can actually be drained to the point where the question doesn't arise whether it should be converted to a cranberry bog. In our less than expert opinion, one thing that may have impeded good drainage was that every "brook" on the course has a maximum depth of six inches. Oddly enough, one of the driest places on the course "strictly prohibited" cart travel. Go figure.
Other Notable Track Features
If you want to imagine that you're playing somewhere else, which isn't unreasonable, the left rough on #7 is the place to be, as it evokes thoughts of the fabled "pine straw" at Augusta National....if you've been out in the sun long enough to really tap into your creative Inner Goat Tracker.
#8: A par-3 with a blind shot to the pin. There's a tree behind the green with a bullseye nailed to it to provide a rough idea of where to hit your shot. Brilliant. GT Duke pointed out that the letters "GT" were painted on the corner of the sign. Pure coincidence, or is it...
Kickin' it Old School: Literally. Coventry Pines (and nearby Goddard Park, which we also played that afternoon) are the only courses we've run into since the mid 90's that allow metal spikes. The challenge, of course, is to find a place that sells them (Golfer Number Two had to resort to buying them on eBay (may as well have been the black market), but he's now the proud owner of something that resembles real golf spikes...and you just can't put a price on that!
Onto the Course...
We were told that Coventry Pines usually "crisps up nicely" by mid-summer, but with this summer's heavy rainfall, we encountered completely different Tracking conditions (it's worth noting that we played this Track after some pretty heavy precip the previous night). Based on course conditions, we did some follow-up research to confirm that Coventry, Rhode Island is in fact approximately 420 feet above sea level.
Layout: For the most part, it's uncomplicated, with a lot of pine trees. Classic old school Tracking.
Fairways/Rough: Aside from approach angle, no real benefit or downside to being in one versus the other, consistent with a lot of Tracks we play.
Bunkers: We ran into a couple on #1 and #3 that were partially "reclaimed," possibly a sand conservation measure. A fair number of them are essentially flat; those that aren't demonstrate a remarkable ability to retain water, which may explain the design preference for flat bunkers. The ones that weren't holding enough water to be used as stocked ponds were firm enough to make rakes unnecessary; a good way to speed up play (and since we finished in 2 hours flat, no complaints here).
Greens: The most notable feature here was that most putts absolutely died about a foot or so from the hole. Conditions were generally consistent with what we'd expect at a true Goat Track; some bare spots here and there, random unrepaired ball marks, etc., but nothing too unusual. That said, people who should know better insisted on violating the Universal Truth of Goat Track Putting (no break on a green at a public course). Not surprisingly, none of those putts made their way into the cup (apparently "Ignore This Universal Truth at Your Own Peril" doesn't register with some folks).
Drainage: Usually, this section of a typical Goat-Track.com course review falls under the "Water Hazards" heading, but "Drainage" is the more relevant issue to address here. As noted above, we checked to make sure that we weren't at or below sea level, given the proximity to the Narragansett Bay, Pettaquamsutt River, etc.
Continuing the pre-game warm-up,after loosening up on the practice field (closed when we played), you may want to hit the practice green. This earns high marks here, mainly because it reinforces part of the Costanza Constant, as noted on the GOAT TRAQ FAQ page. The practice green at Coventry Pines, in addition to being the smallest we've ever seen, is also built into a slope near the pro shop (don't let the picture at right fool you). The result is that there's no chance in hell that you can encounter a putt on the course that even vaguely resembles one from the practice green. We can't heap enough praise on the Coventry Pines folks for pointing out the sheer futility of practice greens. The added bonus was the power/cable lines strung overhead (not visible in the picture above, unfortunately), within arm's reach. Consider yourself warned not to raise your putter over your head here, otherwise you may get what you deserve for being on a practice green in the first place.
Pro Shop: What else is there to say? Classic, rustic, New England. A stone chimney? It all works. We also appreciated the "no alcoholic beverages allowed on the course" sign posted near the pro shop. This appears to be there mainly for entertainment purposes since, in our brief sampling of carts leaving the course before we teed off, there were probably as many with coolers as without. Maybe it was just a picnic lunch thing.
An aptly named course, since it's both located in Coventry and loaded with pine trees. We're pretty sure that there weren't any sleepless nights spent trying to name the course. Coventry Pines meets or exceeds most Goat Tracking criteria and is definitely worthy of being considered Goat Track material. Our thanks to Dan, who both recommended this fine course and joined us for a round, providing his "local expertise."
The Coventry Pines Review
Pre-tee: There's a lot to take in from the gravel parking lot at Coventry Pines while you get your sticks out of the trunk. As you soak it all in, you may notice that Coventry Pines doesn't have a range, it has a "practice field," similar to the practice area near the cricket fields at Keney...maybe...to a certain extent...we'll leave it at that.
Coventry Pines GC, Coventry, Rhode Island (reviewed July, 2009)