Designed by Arthur Hills and his then associate Drew Rogers, the Orchard Course at Newport National Golf Club occupies a 200-acre site that was once a flourishing tree and shrub nursery. Fringed by tall swathes of fescue, the bent grass fairways on this exciting layout have been open to New England golfers since 2002.
Drew Rogers, when asked to comment on the Orchard course, responded with the following:
“The planning process seemed to take on a life of its own, taking years to complete, with plans being churned out by the dozens as the land assemblage evolved. Ultimately Arthur and I worked together in arranging a diverse collection of holes that would embody the site, incorporating the various plots of landscape materials and the stunning views of the Sakonnet Passage, Atlantic Ocean and Narragansett Bay.Though not the planned goal, the course would evolve to take on almost a links-like appearance. Holes 3 and 4 are unique in that they are consecutive par threes, playing in opposite directions, with number 3 set against a massive grouping of old, Japanese pieris – an ornamental shrub that, when flowering in the spring, takes on the look of blooming gorse from the British Isles.”
Went there on a windy 50 degree day in December. The course is in immaculate shape.Would highly recommended it to any golfer and would love to shoot it again in warmer weather.
The Orchard course at Newport National opened to great fanfare in the early years of this century. Plans included a grandiose clubhouse and a second course on adjacent land. While the place has not been a financial success (None of the plans materialized and the “clubhouse” continues to occupy a “temporary” building.), Newport National is certainly an artistic success. The course is built on sandy soil which, while not technically linksland, shares many of the characteristics of true links. And architect Drew Rogers took fine advantage of the property he was given.
The running game is very much in evidence here, despite the fact that Rogers fronts many of his greens with bunkers. In these cases, he often creates sideboards—giving the player the option of landing his approach there and then kicking it at an angle onto the green. The green complexes leave plenty to the imagination, contoured nicely. My favorite is the eighth, where the front corners are completely squared off, an homage—as at Fox Chapel—to Seth Raynor.
Most holes feature a choice off the tee, none more interesting than the short par 4 fifth, where the left rough may provide the best angle to the green…………..or then again it may not.
Newport National is deserving of its standing here ahead of a number of fine private courses. And I can think of no other truly public course in New England I’d rather play.