Donald Steel has created as interesting a set of green complexes as there is in the state. The humps and bumps make for challenging and always different putting. And the approaches provide variety as well, with only a couple holes not allowing the option of a running approach. Steele’s bunkers are lovely, with a couple (on #2 and #16) appearing to be right next to the green when the player has, in fact, 20 yards between the bunker and the green. Prior to reaching the green, the course is not as interesting. While some shots (notably # 10 with its split fairway, # 15 with its fairway bunkering and #18, a driveable par 4 with Narragansett Bay providing a hazard all the way down the right side) require decisions, most do not. Reaching the tee on many holes is, however, another of the challenges. The last four holes, for example require over a half mile of walking on cart paths. And there are lengthy walks to four other tees, all the result of much of the property being wetlands. While members do walk (there’s a good caddie program), the course does not fare well as a walk in the park. The most unusual aspect of the routing (for guests anyway) is parking at the pro shop by the 4th green and then taking a cart down a half mile long path to the first tee. The cart path, like all of them on the course, is made of crushed white shells—much more attractive than the usual blacktop………..and more functional, too. The first time I played here, I had dinner in the clubhouse after the round. It was late in the season and quite dark when we finished dining. There are no lights on the cart path we took back to our cars, but the white shells made the navigation easy. I enjoy playing the Abbey, but it’s not among my Rhode Island favorites.
Date: December 10, 2015