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

Conditions: 9/10, Quidnessett is one of the best conditioned courses in the state and should be proud of their superintendent. The bentgrass greens are always lightning quick, while the fairways, teeboxes, and bunkers are impeccably groomed. The rough is generally thick as well.

Value: N/A, This is a private course.


Tee                           Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Championship     72           6935               73.6               133

Mens                       72           6500               71.6               128

Ladies                     72           5786               73.0               124

Hole Descriptions: Aesthetically, there are few courses that match Quidnessett. This is clear as you drive down the Club’s opulent driveway between two lush, tree-lined holes reminiscent of Magnolia Lane. It’s even more evident on the back nine, where the Narragansett Bay provides a gorgeous backdrop on several holes. Unfortunately, the course was designed in a time where golf course architecture was severely lacking ingenuity and Cornish’s design here leaves a lot to be desired. I have two major issues with the layout at Quidnessett. Firstly, the front nine is very repetitive with tree-lined par fours that are extremely forgettable. Only the par 3 5th hole stands out, but unfortunately it too falls victim to the my second issue: the greens. Similarly to every Cornish course I’ve played, the greens here are exactly the same on every hole – circular and running hard back-to-front. In short, Quidnessett is a visually-appealing, well-conditioned course, but the architect failed to capitalize on the setting and finances at his disposal.

The opening hole is a solid 379 yard par 4 running straightaway from a slightly elevated teebox. Tall trees, the driveway, and a bunker at 230 yards guard the left, while the right is fairly open with only a few sporadic trees. This approach plays slightly uphill to a large back-to-front sloped green guarded by bunkers short left and long right. The par 3 2nd hole is squeezed between the 1st and 3rd at 176 yards. The weakest of a very nice set of one-shotters, this hole features a slightly elevated undulating green surrounded by three deep bunkers. At 543 yards, the par 5 3rd hole is quite confusing from the teebox, especially on your first play.  Playing uphill on the drive, this fairway is one of the narrowest on the course guarded by sporadic trees and bunkers on either side around 225 yards. Your second shot will be blind as this fairway snakes left and then back right while remaining quite narrow. The driveway and OB left come into play for the final 170 yards and a series a bunkers cuts diagonally into the right fairway about 140 yards short of the green, making the lay-up area almost non-existent. This approach plays downhill to a flatter green guarded by bunkers short, left, and right. The par 4 4th hole is the number 1 handicap, but is fairly boring, playing straightaway at 465 yards. The only real difficulty on this hole is the length and the fact that OB lines the left side the entire way. This green is long and narrow and guarded by bunkers long, right, and left.

The 5th hole is the best on the front side, and one of the most memorable holes on the course. At 214 yards, this intimidating par 3 requires a carry the entire way over a giant pond. Putting is extremely difficult on this hole, as golfers will have to contend with an incredibly steep back-to-front slope. The 405 yard par 4 6th plays parallel to the 1st with the driveway on the right this time. This hole doesn’t do much for me as a slight dogleg right around rough and bunkers down the right between 210 and 260 yards. This green runs hard back-to-front with two bunkers right and one left. I always find the 422 yard par 4 7th to be one of the more difficult holes on the course with OB right and dense trees on both sides. A good drive that finds the narrow fairway will be left a long approach over deep greenside bunkers to a tiny green. At 416 yards, the par 4 8th runs parallel to the 7th and is yet another rather mundane par 4. With thick woods down the left and OB right, this hole requires a drive of at least 230 yards to reach the dogleg left and have a shot at this green. The 8th green, like so many others, runs extremely hard back-to-front with bunkers on either side. At 516 yards, the 9th hole is named “Birdie Lane,” as the shortest par 5 on the course. This hole features a generous fairway and a sharp dogleg left at about 260 yards with multiple bunkers on either side at this point. The lay-up plays slightly uphill here to an undulating fairway guarded by a giant waste bunker down the left about 70 yards short of the green. This green is one of the largest on the course and is guarded by bunkers on either side.

The 10th hole is a difficult par 4 and one of the better holes on the course. This 412 yard dogleg left is a tough driving hole, lined by the driving range on the left and dense fescue and trees right. The approach here plays slightly uphill to a large green guarded by deep bunkers on either side. The longest hole at Quidnessett is the challenging 592 yard 11th. After a teeshot through a chute of trees, this hole runs straightaway downhill towards Narragansett Bay, which you can see behind the green. Reaching this green in two is almost unheard of, but the lay-up is very difficult as the fairway is constricted by hazards and trees on either side about 120 yards short of the green. You’ll need to decide whether to come up short of this or try to carry it, but I don’t see the benefit of muscling it through. This shallow green is protected by bunkers short and long.

The approach at 11

The par 3 12th is another beautiful hole with the Bay in the background. At 185 yards, this one-shotter features a small green guarded by a bunker long and giant bunker short right.

The 12th green

The par 4 13th is a very strange hole, and one I’m not fond of. I suspect Cornish was shackled by wildlife or land concerns so he built a 362 dogleg right with the dogleg occurring at only 200 yards. The golfer is given very little options off the tee here with tall trees running all the way down the right and condos lining the left. Bunkers at 220 yards loom long for those who run through the fairway. The only real option is a 210 yard straight shot, which is rather boring for such a short dogleg. From the fairway, this hole turns at a 90 degree angle right towards a long, narrow green lined by bunkers short on either side and marshes long. At 526 yards, the 14th is easily the best par 5 on the course and my favorite overall hole. This straightaway three-shotter requires an immediate 170 yard forced carry over marshland to a fairway lined by sporadic trees left and sand dunes down the entire right side. The Bay is just beyond these dunes, making this an absolutely gorgeous hole. Like the 11th, the lay-up area narrows considerably with bunkers on either side about 100 yards short of the green. This elevated green complex is probably my favorite on the course, with numerous undulations and four bunkers surrounding it.

The 15th hole is the shortest par 4 on the course, and is another confusing hole. Running away from the water at just 331 yards, this slight dogleg right initially features a wide fairway lined by bunkers on either side at 220 yards. The fairway narrows as you near the green and a tall tree inexplicably obscures the right portion of the green from the teebox. This is nonetheless one of the best birdie chances with a large back-to-front sloped green lined by bunkers on either side. The final par 3 16th is another good one-shotter at 181 yards. Playing very similarly to the 5th, this hole requires a carry the entire way over marshland to a circular green that runs severely back-to-front. A bunker protects deep right and leaves a miserable up-and-down. At 410 yards, the number 2 handicap 17th is a challenging hole I’ve never really felt confident on. The landing area here is initially wide but you’ll likely have a blind approach due to trees on the left that block your view of the green. A bunker down the left narrows the fairway significantly at 270 yards and misses wide on either side will be lost. The kidney-shaped green runs back-to-front and is lined by bunkers on either side.

The difficult par 4 17th

The “Perfect Ending” closing hole is my favorite par 4 at Quidnessett. At 400 yards straightaway, the only danger on the drive is clumps of trees on both sides of a wide fairway. This fairway stops at about 300 yards with marshland that runs for 80 yards before the green. With the clubhouse in the background, this green is very severe, running hard back-to-front with two bunkers behind.

The par 4 18th from the clubhouse

General Comments: Quidnessett’s practice facilities are strong, with a grass driving range plenty long enough for driver and a massive practice green in front of the clubhouse. The clubhouse itself is not the original, but is still majestic and very large, featuring great views of the course and Narragansett Bay. It’s a very popular spot for outside banquets and weddings. I can’t confirm this, but I believe Quidnessett was the first course I ever played.

Verdict: The views, amenities, and conditions at Quidnessett are fantastic, but a pedestrian Cornish design keeps it from being one of Rhode Island’s elite courses. Nonetheless, it’s a very solid course that I recommend if you get an opportunity to play it.

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