Established in 1894 by a group of twenty-five wealthy Philadelphians, the country club at Point Judith initially offered members a choice of fashionable non-golfing pursuits, like tennis and polo. Indeed, the golfing element of the club’s sporting activities only really took off when Donald Ross added nine holes to the existing 9-hole layout in 1927.Today’s course has been expanded to 6,694 yards, playing to a par of 71, with many of the better holes reserved for the back nine. In particular, the closing three holes are very strong, starting with a water-protected par three at the 16th. This 217-yard tester is then followed by an uphill, 440-yard par four before the home hole returns golfers to the clubhouse by way of a long par five finisher.
Like a lot of Donald Ross’s work, Point Judith has been changed by other architects since Ross was there ninety years ago. While the routing has changed little in that period (Ross did a fine job on an L shaped piece of land.), it seemed to me that only about half the greens are clearly his work. The last six, for example, are large, undulating and have definite corners. But many of the other greens lack the size and undulations that make the originals more interesting. That lack of variety also extends to many approach shots, where an aerial play is the only alternative.
But Ross aficionados should not lament this situation. Architect Ron Forse and the club’s long range plan head Rich Higginbotham are changing that. After teaming up at Pine Tree in Florida, the two are in the process of improving Point Judith as well. Their first two steps were tree removal and a friendlier set of forward tees than their 5800 yard predecessors. The next steps are renovating greens 2 and 4. I look forward to returning as more work is done.