In 1895, the founding members of The Misquamicut Club engaged Tom Bendelow to fashion their original golf facility. Over the next couple of decades, it’s said that both Willie Anderson and Seth Reynor made modifications to this rudimentary layout before the purchase of additional land enabled Donald Ross to completely redesign the course in 1923.
The front nine is set out on undulating terrain, with most of the back nine occupying much flatter ground. The par threes at the long 3rd and short 8th are excellent one-shot holes on the outward half but the round really comes to life on the way home, with the strong par fours at holes 13 and 14 of particular merit. A long, uphill par three ends a round here in somewhat unconventional style at the 18th hole.
A number of the fairways are routed close to tidal inlets that run along the Atlantic coastline, weaving in and out of wetland areas teeming with all sorts of wildlife. The course extends to a very modest 6,214 yards from the back markers so Misquamicut can certainly be described as a short, but very sweet, Donald Ross classic.
You stand on the first tee of Misquamicut and visualize a roller coaster. What a fabulous opener. The 2nd is a big par 4 with a down hill that hides the green. The 3rd is a big par 3. There are several big par 3's here at MGC. It is par 69 with 6215 at the back tees. It plays much longer though.
4 is a short par 4 which has severe slopes as it glides uphill to a green almost circled by bunkers. 5 is a huge par 4 with less contour than most holes here. 6 is a devilish par 3 that has a green diagonal L to R with OB right there left and the short and right side is a severe 20 foot wall/hill. steps built into it. It plays around 200. 7 is one of the two par 5's. It's a good hole. It's just that there are so many great holes. 8 is a great par 3. 170ish with another 20 foot wall staring at you. The green also slopes off L&R. 9 is a fabulous par 4. It's not long 375ish. The green is cut into the hill and another wall type hill confronts your 2nd shot. 10 creates your first view of the ocean. The rolling terrain slopes unpredictably every which way with a hill left that hides the green behind it. A great hole.
12 your elevated tee across the road to a dogleg right par 4 which has coastal pond creating the dogleg. 13 is the only area you hear the waves. The teebox is adjacent to the beach as you play a par 3 across a tidal pond to a near blind green. 14 is a dogleg right flat big par 4. It plays very long. 15 is a par 4 straight away with an almost island green bunker surrounded. The front bunkers are 30 yards from the green but unless you have played the hole before visually they don't appear that way. 16 is much like 14 just much shorter. 17 is the 2nd par 5 which meanders thru the tidal ponds you play over on 12 and 16.
The only knock on the course is only two par 5's and they are the most plain holes on the course. 18 is a monster par 3 climbing up a huge hill with the clubhouse off to the left and a 30 foot climb from tee to green. It can play 220 on the card but 250 in reality. Special course. Having played all of the best of Rhode Island. I would humbly say, this is the best. Wannamoisett and Shelter and Newport in a dog fight for the next 3 slots.
Joy is the word that springs to mind when playing The Misquamicut Club. The first ten holes are a rolling adventure and you play three of the best par 3's you will ever play. The adventure begins on the first tee played right from the clubhouse to a very tilted green. Do not leave yourself a downhill putt as you don't know where it will stop.
This is followed by a lovely long dogleg left followed by a wonderful long par 3 that if you hit it too far you will go out of bounds onto a road.
Then next is a beautiful short par 4 with a very well protected green. It is an amazing short hole.
Then you walk up to play the fifth, a long hole that has a green complex that if the pin is back left, you risk missing it due to the indentation in the green. It is terrific.
Followed by another fabulous par 3 that if you miss it to the right you have a blind recovery shot as the green is about ten feet above your head.
Then next is a long par five that is also terrific although the green is not as interesting as the ones before it.
Then there is an easy hole followed by another terrific par 3 that you must hit the green or you are faced with another steep hill to climb for your recovery shot. This is repeated on the ninth hole, a short par 4 with another elevated green. The green is titled and fun.
Followed by another short par 4 downhill and in the distance you get a glimpse of the water. This is another fun golf hole to play as the tee shot feels semi-blind.
Then one has to drive over the road to a cape hole. The more you bite off of this dogleg right, the more you bring water on the right into play. However, if you play it too conservatively, you can go out of bounds left. So just aim for the middle as it is no more than a pitching wedge in.
After the tenth hole, the golf course is flat as it plays between the road and the water. The holes are not quite as interesting, although they are still fun to play, particularly the 17th, a long par five that requires you to thread your shots between the marshes, and the hole has a terrific green and is well bunkered to the right.
Finally you walk back over the road and play a long, uphill par 3 to another terrific green. This hole is as much fun as the 18th at Pasatiempo, longer but with a more reasonable green. The degree of difficulty is about the same.
I loved everything about The Misquamicut Club. It is a course that is inspirational and sparks joy. It does not beat you up as a par 69 and do to being relatively short. But it offers so many challenges due to the some really cool undulations and terrain changes as well as some excellent green complexes.
There are a few very good golf courses in Rhode Island and this is definitely one of them.
So much of modern golf design is based primarily on length -- stretching holes to even longer and longer distances. A visit to Misquamicut is a step back in time but one that powerfully continues to resonate today.
The layout consists of two totally different presentations. The front half is grand stuff -- the roll and pitch of the land is intoxicating. Rhode Island, along with Massachusetts -- has the kind of geography that allows for certain courses to have such major ground movements even though one is quite near to the ocean.
The opening hole commences with the 1st tee literally parked just outside the clubhouse. The fairway pulsates like stormy waves on the ocean. The player has a range of clear options -- one can hit driver and attempt to cover as much terrain as possible or play shorter and likely have a longer shot but one that provides a view of where the pin is located. If one were to define the ideal starting hole I'd be happy to nominate the 1st at Misquamicut.
The routing for the first half of the layout is done extremely well. The holes blend so well into the existing terrain and for all those who are traditionalists walking the course is very doable as greens and tees are always situated near enough to one another.
The final hole on the outward side is one of the finest short par-4's one can play in all of New England. The 350+ yard holes starts from an elevated area and in the nearby distance you see the fairway below. The hole turns right in the drive zone and for those who are unaware there is out-of-bounds that pinches in from the left as that side makes up the adjoining practice area. An aggressive play at the tee is not something to carry out unless laser-like placement is executed. The fairway chokes down on width considerably and often times the prudent play is to leave oneself anywhere from 100-125 yards with the approach.
The green is elevated high above the fairway and the approach must be played with the touch of a jeweler. High rough guards the front of the entire green and when the pin is cut in the far left corner it takes real nerve and unerring skill to loft an approach and have it remain in place when landing. The magnificence of the 9th is that it provides a slew of options and it can easily challenge all types of players.
When you reach the 10th tee you can see the ocean in the distant background. Like so many of the holes on the outward half -- the 10th sports a contoured fairway with a circular rough area centered in the fairway and providing lanes of fairway to either side. The green is a treat with enough contour to distinguish between the timid and the too bold.
Once you complete the 10th you move to a teeing ground perched high above the entrance way to the club. At this point you hit a tee shot across Ocean View Highway. The next seven holes play in close proximity to the water and while the land is generally flat the exposure to the elements allows the wind to clearly impact play. In its most severe case -- it's not unheard of to face 3-4 club wind differentials, or more, at given times during the season. The routing is also good -- never permitting sameness to enter the scene.
The differentiation between the first 10 holes and the next 7 is quite significant. But, it is because of this varying "look" that the total experience is truly enhanced. Among the most noted is the demanding long par-4 14th at 435 yards. There's a pond that guards the much preferred right side and even for the strong players the wherewithal to carry, or come close enough to it, requires a hefty strike of 280+ yards followed by a well played approach to a subtle green.
One of the really testing situations you encounter comes with the par-5 17th. The drive zone is protected by wetlands that flank both sides on the tee shot. There's sufficient room but just the thought that hitting into the penalty areas is clearly possible. Throw in the varying impact of whatever wind you encounter and what seems like a birdie hole is anything but.
The finishing hole commences across the highway -- returning to the same side where the clubhouse is located. At Misquamicut the 18th is a par-3 playing uphill and usually involves dealing with a prevailing left-to-right wind during the playing season when standing on the tee. Complicating matters is the elevation change encountered -- hitting uphill to a green sitting in the distance. Other courses have conclusions featuring a par-3 -- Garden City, Cascades at The Homestead, Pasatiempo, Geronimo at Desert Mountain are a few of the ones I've played -- and the 18th at Misquamicut is every bit as good as the aforementioned.
Misquamicut artfully shows how a par-69 that plays just a tad over 6,200 yards can be so much fun to play. In many ways -- the nature of the club reminds me of a number found when in the UK and Ireland. On a clear and somewhat breezy day a round of golf at Misquamicut is a true delight to savor and forever relish.
M. James Ward
The first 11 holes or so are laid out on incredible rolling topography equal to many of the greatest courses in GB&I. Donald Ross found green sites that made my jaw drop and certainly made me think two or three times about what club I was hitting.
Steeply elevated greens with merciless surrounding slopes are as much golf as you can handle for a course that (on paper) tips out at just over 6,200 yards.
After a run of holes along the sound, you cross back to the main paddock to play the fabulous uphill par 3 18th hole which is a beautiful setting.
Old school New England charm is abundant at this remarkable club.
The wind is the reason to play and enjoy the sound side holes.
Many people describe the course as schizophrenic due to the substantial differences between the front 9 and back 9. The front has wild, rolling terrain, which I found unique and fun. The back is on the water and is completely flat. The course finishes on a rare par 3, but it is a strong uphill shot back on the side of the course with elevation changes.