EAST PROVIDENCE — The good folks currently in charge at the Silver Spring Golf Course want to make others aware their club is a welcoming place whether it's in the mid-summer heat or mid-fall …
EAST PROVIDENCE — The good folks currently in charge at the Silver Spring Golf Course want to make others aware their club is a welcoming place whether it's in the mid-summer heat or mid-fall chill.
They also want to stress the six-hole layout is back in fine form, as good or better than you remember it, especially in recent times.
A couple weeks back, a special "appreciation" tournament was held for members and regulars at the course tucked just below street level off Pawtucket Avenue in Riverside.
"We want people to know that we refurbished the golf course," said Lou Roccabello, the latest president of the club who spent his entire professional career in the golf course/parkland maintenance as well as being a former past president of the Rhode Island Golf Course Superintendent’s Association.
He continued, "The greens and the conditions here were almost unplayable. So we came in two years ago, this is my second year, and we brought back the greens. As you can see it looks plush."
Looks certainly are a factor. On that late October tournament weekend the greens were close to carpets and the fairways were well manicured. Five of the six tee areas were also in good shape, save for parts of the always-pesky fourth hole.
"What we've tried to do is give people the conditions they would like to play off of anywhere, but that it's still affordable for them," Roccabello said.
Most who play the game regularly want a course to be in acceptable condition, while cost is also key. Avid golfers would agree the Silver Spring fees are quite reasonable. For 6-9 holes walking it's $15, 12-18 $20 and all day is $25. The same amounts at each point with a cart are $25, $35 and $45, respectively.
"It's affordable. It's a convenient. And what we're trying to do is keep it affordable with our fee structure," Roccabello added. "Our regular daily fees are basically less than any other course, if not less than everyone. And we're also trying to keep it a nice, open space in East Providence."
The ability to keep Silver Spring open and available to residents and visitors is one of the reasons why its leaders changed its status from private to non-profit, according to vice president Scott Peters.
The course can now avail itself to grants and aid from local, state and federal levels, especially those aimed at so-called "green" spaces. It also gives the club the ability/option to potentially seek low interest loans in support of maintenance and operations.
"Being a non-profit makes it easier to access those funds instead of being a private course," said Peters.
In private and in public, to some extent, the future of Silver Spring is seemingly always being discussed.
It's well established to many the owners of the property, Exxon/Mobil, are trying to rid themselves of numerous parcels they hold around the city. Silver Spring appears to be one of them.
"All we know is that it's in a non-disclosure period," Roccabello said of the latest rumors around the course. "Mobil is trying to sell all their land off. I know that there's a lot oil down by the second tee, so I don't know what you could really build on here. So we're really hoping that they're going allow this to stay. It's been here over a hundred years after all."
The Silver Spring layout was created in 1919 as a course for executives at what was then known as the Standard Oil Company of New York upon the break up of the original behemoth Standard Oil under the Sherman Anti-Trust act earlier that same decade.
Standard Oil of New York, through other joint ventures and acquisitions over the next several decades, eventually did business under the Mobil Oil Corp. monicker before it, too, merged with a former sister company, Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, or Exxon, in 1999.
Long before that last merger, however, the Mobil Oil Corp. agreed to lease the land to local interests in 1963 and it became known as Silver Spring Golf Course.
Said Peters, "For Exxon/Mobil it's a good deal because they own the land, but we take care of it, maintain it at no cost to them. Ideally, the city could buy the land, that would be ideal."
It doesn't seem likely the city, still dealing with the old Metacomet Country Club imbroglio, would be a taker for the course. The more realistic aim is to keep it in the hands of the members and the public.
Peters added, "It's a very player-friendly, family-friendly course. All ages, any sex, come out and if you like to golf and have a good time, this is the place to go.
"It's convenient, especially if you live in East Providence. You can get here easily from any place in East Providence. Wherever you live in East Providence's, it's not much more than a 10-minute drive.
"One of our members, Jim Hibbert, calls it the 'Gem of East Providence...the hidden gem because it's down low...It's affordable and it's friendly."