Review: Montaup Country Club

Course Name: Montaup Country Club

Designer: No formal architect (1923)

Location: Portsmouth, Rhode Island

History: Built as a 3-hole course on Chase Peach Orchard in 1923, Montaup soon became a regulation 18-hole course. The U.S. military needed gravel on the Back 9 to construct a Navy Base for World War II, but in 1965 the Back 9 was rebuilt. Members themselves designed and built these holes, often rotating as greenskeeper. The design has received accolades as the #4 Public Course in Rhode Island by Golf.com in 2014 and Golfweek.com in 2015.

Conditions: 8/10, Montaup is in excellent conditioning, with the greens being especially nice, and the rough playing thick.

Value: 8/10, although semi-private, public golfers can play Montaup at pretty competitive rates. Easily walkable, Montaup is $47 to walk at peak hours with great discounts for twilight and military members. Open year-round, the rates also get cheaper in the winter.

Scorecard:

Tee                           Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Blue                         71           6375                70.9              125

White                      71           5809               68.1              122

Red                          73          5367                71.6               122

Gold                        73           4772               67.2              118

Best Score: 82 (White Tees), 8/17/2013 with Dad, Dylan, and Uncle Brendan

Front 9 Best: 42 (White Tees), 8/17/2013 with Dad, Dylan, and Uncle Brendan

Back 9 Best: 37 (Blue Tees), 5/29/2016 with Dylan

Hole Highlights: Many in Rhode Island believe Montaup has the 4 most difficult starting holes in the state. I would tend to agree with this statement if you only included public courses. I do, however, find Montaup’s opening hole to be the hardest opener in the state. At 414 yards, this hole is incredibly narrow and anything a tad bit left will be lost into a road. To make this hole more difficult, this green is narrow and surrounded by ponds on the right and in front. If you make par on this hole, then you are in for a very good round. The 2nd hole is another narrow 405 yard par 4. While more open than the 1st, there is once again OB left. This will be a recurring theme at Montaup, as left is dead on almost all holes but right is always OK. Right-handed hookers and left-handed slicers will have a very tough time at Montaup. After these two difficult par fours, the 3rd hole is a long 221-yard par 3 that usually plays into the wind. The left side here is OB as well, and this green slopes hard from back to front. The 4th hole is the “easiest” of the brutal starting holes as a 386 yard slight dogleg left. Despite this, I still managed to make an 11 here in a tournament after hitting 3 balls OB left into high dunes. The miss on this hole is clearly right, but trees also line this side as does a bunker 230 yards out.

The 533 yard par 5 5th is the number 1 handicap hole at Montaup, but I consider it to be the easiest hole on a brutal front 9. A dogleg left, this hole plays considerably shorter than its length and is fairly open. The main danger on this hole is a long pond which hugs the dogleg 260 yards from the teebox. The approach shot on this hole is straight uphill and the views from this green of the Bay are unbeatable. At 351 yards, the downhill dogleg left 6th hole features a tight fairway and a small pond 210 yards out in the left rough. This green is flanked on both sides by bunkers and slopes hard from back to front. The 7th hole is a 521 yard par 5 that plays narrow the entire way. Three bunkers line the fairway here at about 220 yards and a devastating bunker is found in the fairway about 100 yards before this green. The 7th green is very large and features 3 tiers, which cause many 3-putts. The 8th hole offers probably the best scoring opportunity on the front side as a short 145 yard par 3 over a small pond. At 332 yards, the short par 9th is a funky hole that features a huge plateau in the fairway. Drives short of the plateau can’t see the green on the approach while long drives past the plateau will have a severe downhill lie.

Playing almost 300 yards shorter, the back 9 is much easier to me than the front. The 10th is a fairly weak short par 3 next to the parking lot, but this is the weakest hole on an otherwise very strong back 9. You must walk a fairly long way to the 11th teebox, one of my favorite holes on the course. This 398 yard sharp dogleg left is lined by thick dunes and water on the left side, while the green is literally bordered by a beach. It is just a beautiful par 4 that is really a joy to play. The 12th is another par 3 at 184 yards with bunkers lining both sides of this green. At 514 yards, the par 5 13th is reachable for longer players but lined with thick trees and OB on the left side along the entire distance of the hole. A large tree about 50 yards from the green in the right rough occludes many players from coming in from the right side. The 14th is the last par 3 on the course and probably the best par 3 out of 5. This 170 yarder plays uphill over a pond with a water fountain in the middle. This green slopes hard from back to front and right to left, leading to some tricky putts.

At 424 yards, the straightaway par 4 15th is the number 2 handicap mostly due to length. There are plenty of trees on both sides of this fairway but this hole is one of the more open ones on the course. Montaup’s signature hole is the par 5 16th. At 519 yards, this hole is also reachable with a good drive. There is OB left in the form of abandoned railroad tracks but the main danger on this hole is a tiny pond in front of this green that is tough to carry in 2. You can see the Mount Hope Bridge well from this green (see below). To me, the hardest hole on the back 9 is the par 4 17th. At 399 yards, this slight dogleg left features a pretty tight fairway with OB left and your drive must carry a pretty decent way to reach a plateau on the fairway. The green on this hole is incredibly narrow, and getting up and down from either side is a nightmare with some of the awkward lies you’ll get. The 18th is a fun finishing drivable par 4 at 300 yards. While this hole is uphill and most players elect to layup, this hole was in the news recently for a player making an Albatross here to win a tournament.

General Comments: There is no range at Montaup, but there is a net to hit balls into. Green Valley has a range not too far away, and many players choose to hit balls there. There is a fairly large chipping/putting green next to the clubhouse. Pace of play has been pretty fantastic here when I’ve played.

Verdict: With great conditioning and the best views of any public courses in Rhode Island, Montaup is a gem that I love playing and highly recommend to anyone.

img_1647
View of the Mount Hope Bridge from 16th Green
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