Host to the US Women’s Amateur in 2011, the course at Rhode Island Country Club is routed across a diverse landscape of parkland, woodland and wetlands, culminating in a closing stretch that lies beside the marshes of Narragansett Bay.
Since 1999, the club has been home to the annual Charity Classic, an event where eighteen professionals from the PGA, LPGA and Champions Tours join co-hosts Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade in raising funds for a number of good causes in southeastern New England.Many of the fairways at Rhode Island are routed close to Echo Lake, where a large creek and ancillary wetland areas encroach at a number of the holes, but it’s the windswept closing quartet of holes on the south side of Nyatt Road that live longest in the memory.
I had a “Three Bridge” day for my most recent round at Rhode Island Country Club. That’s what the locals call a clear day on the club as the view from the clubhouse includes all three bridges that cross Narragansett Bay. Two of them—the Newport and the Jamestown span the Bay’s East and West Passages respectively, while the oldest—the Mount Hope—crosses the eponymous body of water, another arm of Narragansett Bay.
The course’s visual aspect reaches a crescendo on the final four holes, which share the clubhouse’s three bridge view. But the inland holes are just as strong. RICC is one of the first half dozen courses Donald Ross built in the U.S. and represents one of the finest of his pre-World War I efforts. It’s been lovingly restored and all the usual Ross features are here: challenging bunkers, contoured greens and a routing that has holes running in all directions. The only parallel holes are those last four, but they are different enough to be as memorable as their predecessors.
The restoration would have been better had it been less of a rote effort. There are a number of fairway bunkers (e.g. on 8, 9, 11, 150 that just don’t come into play anymore. But I’m picking at a tiny nit here. Shelter Harbor is the only course in Rhode Island I’d rather play then this one.