Course Name: Metacomet Country Club
Designer: Leonard Byles (1901), Donald Ross (1924, Redesign)
Location: East Providence, Rhode Island
History: Established in 1901 by five businessmen, Metacomet was one of the first golf courses in Rhode Island. In 1924, Donald Ross redesigned the course, and it has stood the test of time since. After years of declining membership, a group led by Brad Faxon purchased the course in 2019 and hoped to enlist Gil Hanse to retouch the design. The course also opened to the public that year. The result was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster and Faxon and others pulled out in 2020, leaving Metacomet’s future completely up in the air. Metacomet has earned the following accolade:
- #10 Best Course in Rhode Island – Top100golfcourse.com (2018)
Conditions: 8/10, Well-known for it’s blazing fast greens, Metacomet is always in solid shape. The conditioning of the rough and surrounding areas has worsened in recent years, however, as the course’s membership declined.
Value: 8/10, Historically private, Metacomet first opened tee times to the public in 2019 and will continue to do so as long as it stays open. At $75 with a cart, this is hands down the best bang for your buck in Rhode Island.
Tee Par Yardage Rating Slope
Black 70 6464 71.7 126
Blue 70 6214 71.0 125
White 70 5664 67.8 121
Red 72 5438 72.1 128
Hole Highlights: I cannot stress how good of a design this is. A true Donald Ross classic, there is a not a single bad hole at Metacomet. The 1st hole plays downhill at 386 yards and is one of the best scoring opportunities on an otherwise very challenging course.
The 2nd hole is one of the coolest in the state and the first of two short par 5’s at Metacomet. Water lines the entire right hand side of the fairway on this dogleg right, and there is plenty of room to the left, giving players an option of whether they want to try to go for the green in the two and risk the water.
The 3rd starts a very challenging series of holes as a 359 yarder straight up a steep hill. The teebox sets you up to pull the ball, and many golfers do to avoid the thick woods on the right. In addition to playing much longer than its distance, the green is highly sloped and on a pedestal. Anything short or on the front of the green with backspin will come back a good 20 yards thanks to a shaved embankment.
The 4th hole is one of the most challenging in the state as an amazing 446 yard dogleg right. The downhill teeshot is actually fairly straightforward on this pretty open par 4, but the approach shot goes straight back uphill and is usually a wood or long iron for most golfers. Anything short will leave a difficult chip or bunker shot on this very complex green.
I was a huge fan of the first par 3 on the course, the 5th. At 180 yards, this hole plays straight uphill and features a tiny, sloping green.
Out of all of the difficult holes on the front 9, I find 6 to be the most difficult. A brutally long uphill par 4 that plays over 440 yards, this hole features a blind teeshot with trees lining both sides of the fairway. Players lucky enough to have a shot in will be intimidated by a narrow green surrounded by danger on 3 sides.
At 160 yards, the par 3 7th is the shortest and easiest at Metacomet. Straight downhill, this hole offers a beautiful view behind a very sloped green complex. This hole is famous in my family, as my Great-Grandfather made two holes-in-ones here 10 years apart on 7/7 with a 7-iron.
My least favorite hole on the course, the 8th is a sharp dogleg left that requires a drive less than 220 yards to avoid running through this fairway. A large crossbunker across the fairway at about 170 yards is the only real trouble on the drive, but a waste gulley separating the fairway and a tiny green makes the approach shot very difficult.
The 9th hole is the final par 5 on the course, and one of the best designed short par 5’s I’ve ever played. At only 463 yards, this hole is reachable in two but accuracy is at a premium here, as this narrow fairway is tree-lined. After a good drive in the fairway, players have plenty of options and those who decide to go for the green in two face some serious dangers left of this narrow green. The left side drops off abruptly and getting up and down from these dunes is more or less impossible.
The 10th hole is one of the finest long par 3’s I’ve ever played. At 228 yards, this mammoth of a hole offers no outs short, as thick rough runs up to the green. This green is sloped hard back to front, leaving some brutal putts.
The 11th is a straightforward 378 yard par 4 notable for being the driving range and having the driveway bisect it.
At 242 yards, the par 3 12th is another beast although this hole allows layups unlike 10. This green also sloped hard back to front.
After a long 423 yard par 4, the 14th is undoubtedly the best hole at Metacomet. Included in Jeff Barr’s 1001 Golf Holes You Must Play Before You Die, this monstrous par 4 plays downhill at 448 yards. While fairly open, the key to this hole is hitting the fairway about 260 yards out to catch a steep slope down to the 150-yard marker. From there, you are left with a blind approach shot to an undulating green.
At 384 yards, the 15th plays as a shorter version of the 6th with a blind uphill teeshot. In addition to playing longer than it’s distance, this hole features one of the tiniest greens on the course and is well-protected by bunkers.
I would venture to say that 16 is one of the best chances at birdie on the course. As a straightaway 347 yarder, drives that avoid numerous fairway bunkers will have wedge at this green. The view of the clubhouse is best on this hole. Although 14 gets most of the publicity, I find 17 to be one of the best holes I’ve ever played. At 402 yards, this hole is a perfect complement to the great 4th hole. Your drive is downhill and must stay to the right on this dogleg left to avoid being blocked out. The approach shot here is again straight up a steep hill, and many players are unable to reach this difficult green in two.
The 18th is a fun finishing hole slightly diminished by power lines that run over your head on the tee box. Downhill, your drives must stay left of the clubhouse which juts out on the right side of this hole. This green complex is very impressive, with a set of bunkers guarding the front of this green. While the back of this green has no bunkers, the grass around the greens is very tight and shaved down, leading to tough chip shots.
General Comments: Like many old courses, the practice facilities at Metacomet are pretty scanty. The range is makeshift on the 11th fairway but there are two nice putting/chipping greens. Pace of play has generally been very good, and everyone I met there was extremely friendly.
Verdict: Metacomet was always an exciting invite back when it was fully private, but is now a must play course for the general public. In my opinion, this is the best course the public have access to in Rhode Island with a terrific Donald Ross layout, excellent greens, and strong conditions.