Review: Jamestown Golf Course

Course Name: Jamestown Golf Course

Designer: Unknown (1895)(1901, Redesign)

Location: Jamestown, Rhode Island

History: One of the oldest public courses in the country, Jamestown Golf Course originally opened as Conanicut Golf Club in 1895. The course was moved and redesigned in 1901 to its current location. A new clubhouse was erected in 1951.

Conditions: 7/10, Jamestown GC is always kept lush and green. The greens here roll fast and true while the bunkers and rough are both well-kept.

Value: 7/10, An easy walk, Jamestown GC costs about $20, with minor discounts for town residents.

Scorecard:

Tee                     Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Blue                   36           3058               34.4               108

White                36           2761               33.5               105

Red                    38           2431               33.3               107

Best Score: 37 (White Tees), 5/14/2014 with Sam P., Evan S., and Zach R.

Hole Descriptions: I imagine Jamestown GC hasn’t undergone many changes over the last century. This is a prototypical classic design, where strategic bunkering and the wind act as the main defenses. Many of the holes here are short and straightforward, but there’s something refreshing about having holes where what you see is what you get.

A prime example of this is the opening hole, a short, downhill, drivable 280 yard par 4. Out of bounds lines both sides of this generous fairway, adding a bit of danger to an otherwise simple hole. A trio of bunkers guard long right of this large green. The longest hole on the course, the 484 yard par 5 2nd is a true three-shotter from the Tips but is certainly reachable from the Whites. This hole plays straightaway the entire way, but features a tight fairway guarded by water and fescue down the right side. This green is also one of the most undulating on the course, making golfers work for their birdie. The 3rd hole is another short uphill par 4 at 279 yards. OB lines the entire righthand side and the green is well-protected here. The 4th hole is one of my favorites at Jamestown. Wide open, this medium-length 375 yard par 4 contains no bunkers and relies on the crosswind, length, and difficult green for its defense. You absolutely cannot go long here, as the back of this green slopes off steeply.

The par 3 5th hole plays short at only 114 yards, but features 4 prominent bunkers strategically placed around this hard to hit green. Like any good short par 3, birdies are plentiful here but golfers will be penalized at least one shot for missing the green. At only 379 yards from the White Tees, it almost feels like cheating to play the 6th hole as a par 5. With a generous driving area, the danger on this hole arises near the green as two large cross bunkers just short catch any balls trying to run up. Two additional bunkers on the back sides of this green require golfers to have pinpoint distance control. The 7th hole plays 141 yards and is essentially a longer version of the 5th with 4 surrounding bunkers and an undulating green. The 368 yard par 4 8th is the number 1 handicap and self-proclaimed “best hole at Jamestown GC”. Although the driving area is fairly wide, you’ll want to cut the corner on this dogleg left to avoid a long shot into this protected green. A bunker 230 yards out on the left side of the fairway tests golfers cutting the corner and leads to many bailouts right. The finishing hole plays uphill at 328 yards. Fairly straightforward with OB right the whole way, this hole is notable for its view of the beautiful Claiborne Pell Bridge that connects Jamestown to Newport.

Best Par 3: 7th Hole, 141 yards, 13th handicap. With only two short par threes to choose from, I chose the longer one because they essentially play the same with multiple bunkers surrounding a difficult green. The key to this hole is controlling your ballflight in the windy island conditions.

Best Par 4: 8th Hole, 368 yards, 1st handicap. Easily the best hole at Jamestown, this strong par 4 plays downhill and to the left. A bunker at the left corner of the dogleg instills fear in the golfer on the teebox. This narrow green is difficult to hit, with three bunkers flanking the right side. Par is a great score here.

Best Par 5: 2nd Hole, 484 yards, 3rd handicap. A stout hole from the Tips, the 2nd is reachable in two from the Whites. Accuracy is needed on every shot here, as this hole features the tightest fairway on the course. A sloping green makes this hole more difficult than the scorecard indicates.

General Comments: Like many old courses, there are limited practice facilities at Jamestown. There is no range and only a tiny practice green near the 1st tee. Pace of play is always a problem at Jamestown, especially on summer weekends.

Verdict: Although Jamestown GC’s straightforward set-up might bore more advanced golfers, its rich history and prime location make it the best public 9-hole course in Rhode Island. I highly recommend this course to Newport tourists who want a cheaper, quicker round than Newport National.

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