GRAY — Spring Meadows Golf Club at Cole Farms offers challenges right from the start. Jamie Donaldson, a longtime member, refers to the opening holes as “the gauntlet.”

“The third hole can make or break your round,” said Donaldson. “The fourth can break your heart.”

And the first hole isn’t easy, added Spring Meadows head pro Ben Morey.

Just when Spring Meadows has you hanging on for dear life, it gives you a reprieve for the rest of the front nine with some good birdie opportunities – such as on No. 5, a short dogleg left of 351 yards or No. 7, a driveable par-4 for the big hitters and the most picturesque hole on the course.

All in all, Spring Meadows is a very playable golf course.

“There are enough areas to miss your drives so that makes it enjoyable for golfers of all levels,” said Morey.

With four sets of tees on every hole, golfers can play from yardage that suits their games. They also get a great view of the course upon stepping out of their cars. From the parking lot, you can see nearly half the course.

“The view is just marvelous,” said Dave Pollard, an owner of the course along with his three brothers, but the only brother involved in the golf operation.

Spring Meadows opened nine holes in 2000 and 18 holes in 2001. The course is on the land of the old Cole Farm, which was a working dairy farm until the 1960s. Before that it was an apple orchard. Cole Farms Restaurant, across the road on Route 100, is also owned by the Pollards.

In the mid-to-late 1990s, the Pollards began talk about turning the land into a golf course. An early classmate of Dave Pollard’s was Fred Stone, who went into golf course construction and had done work for architect Brad Booth, who designed Spring Meadows.

Additional land was purchased to make up the 200 acres that comprise the golf course. The course has changes in elevation, lots of wetlands, soft fairways, a big pond in the middle and eight doglegs.

“I feel it’s a thinking person’s golf course,” said Pollard. “There’s a fair amount of risk-reward. Certainly, the 10th hole, is like that. I feel it’s a fair course from tee to green.”

Like many courses in New England, Spring Meadows was affected by the tough winter and cold spring. The greens are much improved from the start of the season and looking to keep improving from cooler fall nights.

“The greens are doing well. I think we’re 95 percent back,” said Pollard.

Playing 405 yards from the blue tees, the first hole is a slight dogleg right downhill with a pond down the right side and a larger pond to the left and behind the green. Trees line the left side. An aggressive tee shot over the first pond could leave a short iron to the green, but it also could bring you a penalty stroke if you dump it into the water. A smarter tee shot is down the left center of the fairway.

“It’s one of the tougher opening holes round,” said Donaldson. “The wind often cuts across the hole.”

The second hole, a 337-yard par 4, isn’t that difficult unless you hook your drive where it could find water or if your second shot is long.

“You don’t won’t to go over the green,” said Morey.

Hopefully, you’ve parred the first two holes or are only 1 over, because the third hole, a dogleg, par 5 of 555 yards from the blue tees or 600 from the black tees and the No. 1 handicap hole, can as Donaldson said ” break your round.” The hole requires target golf that has to be played in three stages over wetlands.

“If you make par, you feel good,” said Ed Fortier, another member.

The fourth hole is a very strong par 3 of 167 yards from the blue tees or 190 from the black tees. A trap in front and to the left of the green catches many tee shots. It takes a long iron or hybrid to reach the green.

Then the course lets up with potential birdie holes in Nos. 5 and 7. The sixth is a 150-yard par 3. The green slopes from right to left.

“We’ve had more holes-in-one on this hole than any other par 3,” said Morey of the sixth.

The seventh with its elevated tee could be the signature hole.

The par 3s on the front nine are more challenging than those on the back nine. That’s true of the entire front nine compared to the back.

“The back nine you can make some birdies,” said Donaldson.

The birdie holes start right out with the downhill, dogleg right 522-yard, par 5. The big hitters cut off the dogleg by bombing their tee shots over the trees that gives them a mid or short iron to the green. Holes 11, 12 and 14 are par 4s that offer birdie chances. The second par 5 on the back, the 15th, requires a second shot over a wetland. The course finishes with two strong par 4s. The 17th is the No. 2 handicap hole while 18 is uphill, measuring 366 yards from the blue tees and 426 from the black tees.

There’s always something going on at Spring Meadows. The course has a Monday night scramble at 5 p.m. and a Tuesday senior league. There’s a men’s twilight league on Wednesdays and a women’s league on Thursdays. Once a month, Morey leads the Friday Firecracker, in which the format of the game changes each time.

The Spring Meadows barn, which dates back to 1922, hosts meetings, wedding receptions and other events.

Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at

tchard@pressherald.com

Twitter: TomChardPPH