Located next to Church Cove on the first peninsula east of Newport, the windswept 18-hole layout at Sakonnet Golf Club dates back to 1922 when Donald Ross redesigned nine holes that had been in existence since 1899 before appending an additional nine.
Gil Hanse restored the layout in 2004 which included extending the overall length by more than 400 yards (though the course still measures a modest 6,337 yards from the back tees). Hanse also included two new holes that were in the original Ross drawings but never built.The opening five holes still occupy open ground next to the coastline (with greens at the par three 2nd and 404-yard 4th sited yards from the water’s edge) and this stretch remains the most charming on the whole property.
I was fortunate enough to play Sakonnet Golf Club with the Donald Ross Society who go around and play Donald Ross designed courses throughout the US, society members get to play courses that they may not ever get a chance to play and you also get to meet a lot of great people who share a love of golf. Sakonnet is located in Little Compton, Rhode Island about a 5 minute drive from Donald Ross' vacation cabin which we had the pleasure of having an early lunch at before our round. The lunch was hosted by Donald Ross's great grandchildren who also made a very large timeline of all the courses he designed throughout the years. It was quite an experience to be in one of golfs greatest architects summer residence.
Sakonnet has a very golden age feel to the layout here. Gil Hanse has since come in and brought back many of Donald Ross' original design elements that Ross implemented 90 years ago. The one unique feature here is the rock walls that sit along several holes, if you have every played North Berwick in Scotland it will most definitely remind you of that. There are several holes that are set along the ocean and those hole are very tricky when the wind is up. Its not an overly long course but it doesn't have to be since it sits so close to the ocean. You'll find a mix of unique holes here including the drivable/risk reward