Would it be an exaggeration to suggest Brian Silva’s career has been a renaissance for golf course architecture? Perhaps...but there’s little denying that Silva has made his mark both restoring and creating new courses around the United States. It just so happens that his first original design was Renaissance Golf Club in Haverhill, Massachusetts.
Despite the name, Silva has made a name for himself at least in part by adapting the features of the template layers, such as C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor. This course is not solely a tribute to those classic holes, but Silva sprinkles a few examples around the property, including a Narrows, Cape, and Sahara hole. There are other existing concepts that he utterly reinvents, however.
The Punchbowl hole is considered a drivable par four, despite playing 370 yards! The question is whether you trust your putter enough to score once the ball has been gathered into this beckoning green, or if you prefer to take a wedge in. The Long template is traditionally the lengthiest par five at Macdonald’s courses...but at Renaissance it is a par three. But what a par three...at 250 yards, it lives up to the name.
Renaissance Golf Club is a Brian Silva design
The first hole is welcoming. There are strategic fairway bunkers staggered right, center, left with the right being the closest. The green is sloped away from the approach with two bunkers left. The 2nd is short par 3. There are 3 fairway bunkers that are well short of the green and did not make a lot of sense to me. There are two large waste bunkers greenside and the one right is a precipitous dropoff. The first par five is a good one. A manageable forced carry off the tee, there is a procession of bunkers lining the left fairway and two right. Conceivable to get home in two but you have to carry a hazard short and left to a long narrow green. My advice is pick your favorite wedge yardage. It is the number one handicap hole. The 4th is along uphill par 3. There is a cluster bunkers short, but unless you chunk it, they really shouldn’t come into play. The green is crowned with a false front, take an extra club. The 5th is a reachable downhill par 5. Off the tee favor the left side, especially if you are contemplating going for it. The green is a peninsula in a large waste bunker and left is the cleanest approach. If you decide to layup, there are three pesky fairway bunkers on the left about 100 yards out. The 6th is a tough par four. While the fairway is quite large it is also a continuous rolling mogul with water left. Good luck getting a flat lie. Avoid left on the approach as there is BAB, also take an extra club as this is uphill. The 7th is pretty straight with several fairway bunkers right. Favoring the left side will provide a better approach angle to the green that has bunkers left and right. The dogleg left 8th is a tough hole, from the tips 489 yards dogleg left carry over water with fairway bunkers on the outside elbow. To have a chance to get home you must cut some of the corner, too much you are wet, not enough probably in the bunkers or through the fairway. If you par, go buy a lottery ticket. The front ends with a decent birdie oppty. One of the straightest holes on the course, a decent drive should leave you with a scoring iron in.
The back starts with a driveable punch bowl green (not for me) par 4. It is rated the easiest hole on the course, be warned there is a fairway bunker just left of center. Most of Silva’s designs have a similar risk/reward hole. The 11th is another good scoring oppty. Yes, there is a water carry and a fairway bunker right. Decent drive will take them out of play. Off the tee the further right the better, otherwise the approach to an elevated green must contend with the three bunkers left. The 12th is uphill, but with the only real teeth two fairway bunkers right. One of the largest greens on the course. I really liked the dogleg right long par 4 13th. The convoy of bunkers on the left should not come into play. However, the water hazard inside the elbow and the long bunker between it and the fairway for about 100 yards all the way to the green, absolutely come into play. The hole contour does accept low running shots and actually will funnel them left to right, which is about the only way I can fade a ball. As a committed hooker, dogleg rights typically are not high on my hit parade. I didn’t even birdie it, but it is a good golf hole. The 14th is a reachable par 5 dogleg right. The tee shot is out of a chute and there is a large water hazard most of the way down the right side. Where it ends a large wrap around half the green bunker starts. For those of you playing it as a 3 shotter, be wary of the “principal’s nose” bunker about 100 yards out. The 15th is a 250 yard par 3. If you cannot carry your drive 240 do not go at the pin as you will end up in a collection area short. The best play is down the right side over the two bunkers where a fortuitous bounce should get you onto the green. The 16th is a good birdie oppty. Slight dogleg right with trees left and a large waste bunker right. If you end up in the bunker you can pretty much kiss par goodbye. This is one of the smallest greens on the course with a BAB front left. Do not be deceived this bunker is well short of the green. The last par three is over a waste bunker. This green is tilted right, so it is best to be about 5 yards left of the target line. The 18th is a good finishing risk reward par five. There are fairway bunkers on both the left and right in the landing zone. For you big hitters who are thinking of going for it, favor the left. The next shot will be blind over a high mounded bunkering area. I think it plays easier down the right side as a 3 shotter. This green is well protected with a plethora of bunkers.