Review: Quidnessett Country Club

Course Name: Quidnessett Country Club

Designer: Geoffrey Cornish (1959), Geoffrey Cornish/Bill Robinson (1974, Back 9)

Location: North Kingstown, Rhode Island

History: Despite being a rather new club, Quidnessett has a colorful history. When the club opened in 1960, Sam Snead beat Arnold Palmer by one stroke in an exhibition match. After 2 fires in the 1970’s, the beautiful original clubhouse was completely rebuilt. In 1990, the Rhode Island Republican Party hosted a fundraiser for George H.W. Bush on his campaign trail. In the late 1990’s, condominiums were built around the course, with many members living on the course.

Conditions: 9/10, The superintendent and his crew are some of the hardest working in the state and it shows. Quidnessett is in impeccable shape with fast greens, beautiful teeboxes and fairways, and thick rough.

Value: N/A, this is a private course.

Scorecard:

Tee                           Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Championship     72           6935               73.6               133

Mens                       72          6500               71.6               128

Ladies                     72           5786               73.6              126

Best Score: 81 (White Tees), 8/6/2012 by myself

Front 9 Best: 41 (Blue Tees), 7/22/2013 by myself, 41 (Blue Tees), 6/24/2013 with Owen L. and Jackson W., 41 (White Tees), 8/6/2012 by myself

Back 9 Best: 40 (White Tees), 8/5/2013 with Ryan S., 40 (White Tees), 8/6/2012 by myself

Hole Highlights: Aesthetically, there are few courses that can match Quidnessett. This becomes clear as you drive into the club between two lush, tree-lined holes. Unfortunately, the Cornish design itself leaves a lot to be desired. The front 9 especially becomes repetitive with a slew of long par 4’s that aren’t bad on their own but do little to differentiate themselves. The greens at Quidnessett are also another huge issue I have. Although fast and well-kept, almost every green is sloped hard back-to-front. This is readily apparent on the 1st hole, a solid 379 yard par 4. Tall trees and a road guard the left side, while the right is fairly open. A fairway bunker on the left about 230 yards from the tee is the major danger on the drive. The 2nd hole is an 176 yard par 3 and by far the weakest of what are a very strong set of three-shotters at Quidnessett. This hole features 3 large bunkers surrounding a sloped green, making sand saves very rare. The 3rd hole is very confusing, especially on your first play, as the fairway is incredibly narrow in the landing area. This narrow fairway snakes in an S shape and the green only becomes visible about 150 yards out. There are certainly birdies to be had on this 543 yarder with three accurate shots, but I feel like I’m left guessing with most of my shots here. The 4th hole is the number 1 handicap hole, but is fairly boring. The only real punch this hole packs is its length at 465 yards, but it is fairly open, especially on the right side.

The 5th hole is the standout on the front side, and one of the most memorable holes on the course. At 214 yards, this intimidating par 3 requires a carry of at least 200 yards to carry a fairly sizable pond. Putting is extremely difficult on this hole, as balls lucky enough to find the surface will have to contend with an incredibly steep back-to-front slope. The 6th hole is a 405 yarder that runs parallel with the road like the 1st. While the fairway here is narrow, you have a pretty wide landing area if you can avoid a trio of bunkers in the right rough about 240 yards out. The 422 yard 7th is one of the more difficult holes on the course with OB right and dense trees on both sides. A good drive that splits the fairway will be left a long approach shot that must carry two deep greenside bunkers. The 8th is another challenge at 416 yards. The hole typically plays shorter than this, but a good drive is needed to have a shot at this green due to the dogleg left. This green is fairly tiny and also incredibly steep. At 516 yards, the finishing par 5 is named “Birdie Lane.” I’ve never quite mastered this hole, though, as it is an extreme dogleg left that turns sharply at 250 yards. Well-placed bunkers lined the fairway at this point and make going for the green in two impossible. This hole also narrows considerably by the green, making lay-ups difficult.

The 10th is another difficult par 4 that seems just a bit awkward to me. This 412 dogleg left is lined by the driving range on the left and dense brush on the right, making an accurate drive a must. The approach shot to this green is uphill, and large greenside bunkers catch many shots. The 592 yard straightaway 11th runs straight downhill to Narragansett Bay. Going for this green in two is almost unheard of, and the layup presents a true challenge as the fairway narrows to almost nothing about 125 yards from this green. Aggressive players might want to split the gap, but the prudent play is to lay up short and leave yourself more than wedge in. The par 3 12th (pictured below) is another fantastic par 3 with the Bay in the backdrop. At 185 yards, the wind can play a big role here. The 13th is a very strange hole, and one that I have several distinct memories from. Condos line this dogleg right on the left and are certainly in play. How do I know? My friend tried to play a slice but pull-hooked it right into a window (which is fiberglass, don’t worry). An ideal tee shot here will go between 200 and 225 yards but anything outside of that range will either be OB long or blocked out short.

Outside of an eyesore tree that blocks out the right side of the teebox, the par 5 14th is easily the best par 5 on the course. At 526 yards, this straightaway hole is guarded by tall dunes and the Bay on the right and requires a carry over marshland of 150 yards. Like the 11th, bunkers constrict this fairway considerably in the layup area. This green is also elevated and well-guarded by bunkers, making successful second shots to this green rare. At 331 yards, the short par 4 15th is drivable for the longest hitters and probably offers the best birdie chance on the course. The fairway here is wide, but a tree occludes the right side by the green. At 181 yards, the 16th is similar to the 5th as it requires a carry the whole way over marshland to a severe back-to-front slope. At 410 yards, the number 2 handicap 17th is just another hole I never really feel that confident about. The landing area here is wide but you will invariably have a blind approach shot due to trees on the left that block your view of the green. The “Perfect Ending” 18th hole is probably my favorite par 4 on the course. What you see is what you get on this strong 400 yard straightaway hole. Trees line both sides of the fairway here and the fairway gives way to marshland about 115 yards short of this green. Your approach shot will have to carry these marshes the entire way, with the beautiful clubhouse in the backdrop.

Best Par 3: 12th hole, 169 yards, 16th handicap. While the 5th is a picturesque par 3, it’s severe green places it behind 12. The backdrop of the Narragansett Bay and well-placed bunkering on 12 are fantastic.

Best Par 4: 18th hole, 367 yards, 6th handicap. Many of the par 4’s are nice but forgettable at Quidnessett, but 18 stands out. “Perfect Ending” is a strong par 4 that runs towards the majestic clubhouse and requires a carry over water to this difficult green.

Best Par 5: 14th hole, 506 yards, 12th handicap. The backdrop on 11 is pretty fantastic, but the design on 14 is much better. This long, narrow par 5 requires a carry on the drive and is bordered by the Narragansett Bay on the right. An elevated green and strategic bunkers make this shorter par 5 a good risk/reward hole.

General Comments: As a relatively new club, Quidnessett has some of the finest practice facilities in the state with a 300 yard driving range and huge putting green. I can’t confirm this, but I believe Quidnessett was the first course I’ve ever played. Pace of play is usually on par with other private courses in the area. Quidnessett’s clubhouse and patio overlook the course and are very popular for weddings and other social functions.

Verdict: The views, amenities, and conditions at Quidnessett are second to none, but a pedestrian Cornish design keeps it from being an elite course. Nonetheless, it is a very solid course that I recommend.

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