Course Name: Triggs Memorial Golf Course
Designer: Donald Ross (1932)
Location: Providence, Rhode Island
History: Triggs is one of two public Donald Ross courses in Rhode Island (Winnapaug), and is regarded as one of the finest public courses in New England. This classic design was built in 1932 on Obadiah Brown Farm and soon after hosted a PGA Tour event headlined by Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead. Triggs currently holds the following titles:
- #13 Best Course in Rhode Island – Top100golfcourse.com (2020)
- #2 Best Public Course in Rhode Island – Golfweek (2020)
Conditions: 6/10, Triggs is a little rough around the edges, but I’m always pleasantly surprised by the conditioning here considering how many rounds the course logs. The greens are smooth and run well and the fairways and teeboxes are firm but generally in good shape. The “rough” ranges from true rough to wispy fescue and burnt out crabgrass.
Value: 7/10, Triggs is one of the best values in the state, setting you back only $42 to walk on weekends. Seniors receive additional discounts and the twilight rate of $18 to walk after 5:00 PM is pretty sweet in the summer.
Tee Par Yardage Rating Slope
Blue 72 6522 72.3 132
White 72 6302 71.1 128
Red 72 5320 71.3 124
Hole Descriptions: Most great New England golf courses are private, but golfers in Hartford, Boston, and Providence are fortunate to have classic designs as their municipal courses. Devereaux Emmett’s Keney Park Golf Course in Hartford was recently renovated and the result is fantastic. In Boston, both George Wright and William J. Devine are excellent Ross designs, and in Providence, you have Triggs. These courses share some common features – small greens, strategic bunkering, and an elegant minimalism that highlights the thought that went into the architecture. While none of them display impeccable conditioning or private amenities, they commendably provide an excellent opportunity for golfers of all ability and income level to enjoy some of the same features as U.S. Open courses.
Much akin to Ross’s nearby gem Wannamoisett, Triggs begins with a difficult stretch of long par fours. The opening hole is a 379 yard straightaway par 4 with OB down the left and bunkers that straddle the fairway at about 200 yards. This circular green is quite large, but a bunker to the left and fescue on the right makes for a difficult up-and-down. A bunker 60 yards short right of the green serves more as a visual illusion than true hazard.
The 2nd hole is a long 411 yarder that slides left the entire way. The drive here is fairly open but balls too far left will be blocked out by trees. There’s a series of bunkers on the right side of this fairway near the green that complicate the lay-up.
At a stout 445 yards, the number 1 handicap 3rd is a strong par 4. This teeshot is semi-blind with OB far left and trees and mounds on the right. The approach to this green narrows and plays considerably downhill, making club selection difficult.
The 4th hole is the first par 3 at Triggs and a difficult one at 184 yards. This hole plays blind uphill with bunkers short that appear closer to the green than they actually are. Make sure to club up to reach this relatively flat green in regulation.
You finally get some relief on the short par 4 316 yard 5th. This is a slight dogleg right with a blind teeshot around trees on the right. The difficulty with this hole comes on the approach with an elevated green surrounded by three moat-like bunkers.
The 6th is the only par 5 on the front but is definitely reachable in two at just 493 yards. This elbow-shaped dogleg right begins to turn about 250 yards from the tee with a bunker conveniently placed here on the right side. For the final 100 yards, this fairway narrows and slopes severely downhill. Missing this tiny green left or long is death.
At 185 yards, the 7th plays similarly to the 4th but much more uphill. This strong par 3 features bunkers on either side of this back-to-front sloped green.
The 8th hole provides another good scoring chance at 332 yards. Straightaway, this hole features a pond and bunker left of the fairway but any drive over 200 yards will comfortably clear these hazards. Like the short 5th, this green is tiny and well-protected by three bunkers. The front side finishes with a straightforward, but somewhat bland 391 yard par 4 lined by trees on both sides.
The first of three par fives on the back, the 502 yard 10th plays straight away from the clubhouse. Trees line both sides of this fairway and the worse miss is right, as this side slopes off steeply. The lay-up on this hole is fairly difficult, with a bunker smack dab in the middle of the fairway about 75 yards from the green. Those going for this relatively tiny green in two will contend with two bunkers short right. The 11th hole is a straightforward par 4 that plays only 340 yards. Both sides are lined with trees and your drive must carry at least 180 yards over rough and marshland to reach this fairway. Like many other holes at Triggs, bunkers surround this elevated green. The 12th is a memorable par 3 at 195 yards. Unlike the first two uphill one-shotters, this hole plays severely downhill with a creek running before the green.
The 13th is another interesting short par 5 at just 447 yards. Despite its lack of length, this hole is quirky and requires some local knowledge to succeed on. A pond directly in front of the teebox dominates your view and may distract golfers from the fact that this tight fairway necessitates a right-to-left ballflight. A large bunker about 200 yards on the left collects its fair share of drives and those that run through the fairway right will find themselves with an awkward sidehill lie. From this point, the hole snakes for another 245 yards and culminates in an elevated green. The collection of par 3’s at Triggs is strong and perhaps the best is the 140 yard downhill 14th. Five bunkers surround this oval green and the extreme downhill nature makes proper club selection imperative. My track record on the 496 yard par 5 15th is pretty abysmal but it’s really not too challenging a hole. The drive is undeniably claustrophobic, with trees lining the entire right side and OB (a high school track field behind these trees). The drive is also straight uphill and anything too far left is no bueno on this dogleg right. The fairway narrows as you near this tiny back-to-front sloped green surrounded by three bunkers.
At only 302 yards, the driveable par 4 16th is a fun risk/reward short par 4. From the teebox you’re probably only about 270 yards from the green, but tall trees blocking the left side of this dogleg left are a formidable obstacle. Long hitters that hit the ball high can carry these trees, but the ideal play for most golfers is a straight drive of about 230 yards, leaving a wedge in. The pond directly in front of this teebox is a common fishing spot for local youth. The 17th and 18th are strong closing par fours at 401 yards and 399 yards, respectably. Both are slight dogleg lefts that are fairly generous off the tee. The pond from 8 is in play just short right of the 17th green, which is relatively hidden and blind behind a plateau.
General Comments: Like most old, urban courses, the grass range at Triggs is short and only allows about 200 yards. There is, however, a large well-kept practice green. The clubhouse can best be described as a glorified shack with the bare-minimum supplies inside.
As the premier public course in Providence, Triggs is an extremely busy course and rounds here can be a real slog, with some of the worst golf etiquette I’ve ever witnessed. Having a teetime is virtually useless, and I’ve never played when there weren’t at least four groups waiting on the 1st tee. The marshalls here are notoriously hot-tempered and seem to spend more time yelling at people than enforcing pace of play. For this reason, I generally avoid Triggs unless there’s an outing, and it’s a real shame considering the quality of the design and history.
Verdict: The urban Triggs is a classic Donald Ross design and easily the best public course in the Providence area. With that being said, glacial pace of play and virtually no amenities leave me always feeling a bit disappointed.