Review: Point Judith Country Club

Course Name: Point Judith Country Club

Designer: William F. Davis (1895, Original 9), Mr. Bristow (1919, New 9), Donald Ross (1927, Renovation, New 9), Ron Pritchard (1997, Restoration)

Location: Narragansett, Rhode Island

History: Located in one of America’s premier beach towns, Point Judith CC was founded in 1894 by 25 wealthy Philadelphians who shared interests in polo, tennis, and golf. The first links opened in 1895 with 9 holes from William Davis, the pro and first architect at Newport Country Club. The history gets a bit murky after this, but in 1927 famed architect Donald Ross remodeled the original 9 and added 9 holes of his own. Almost certainly, some of his holes were tinkered with or altered over the years, but Ron Pritchard did his best to restore Ross’s design in 1997. Today, Point Judith CC serves as the University of Rhode Island’s home course.

Conditions: 9/10, Apparently, Point Judith used to keep the rough down and greens slow to make it easier for members, but this is no longer the case. This is a bonafide championship layout with thick rough, quick true greens, and fantastically conditioned teeboxes and fairways.

Value: N/A, This is a private course.

Scorecard:

Tee                                 Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Black                             71            6717               73.2               133

Blue                              71            6329               71.5               130

White                            71            5813               68.8               126

Gold                               71           5640                73.0               126

Hole Descriptions: The course at Point Judith has been through many changes since it first opened in 1895 and was actually remodeling two greens (2nd and 4th) when I played in 2018. On one hand, I was bummed that there were two temporary greens, but on another, I was incredibly impressed by the continued efforts of the club to improve their course. Apparently the 2nd and 4th greens had strayed far from Ross’s original designs and garnered almost universal criticism. It is the sign of a very healthy club to actively listen to membership feedback and actually implement changes.

Despite the numerous architects that touched Point Judith over the years, there is an overwhelming classic era feel at the course. Whether it’s the rock walls, strategically placed bunkers, or fantastic tiny greens, I get the sense that Ross and William Davis would be proud of the course in its current state.

The 1st at Point Judith is a difficult opening hole with a tight fairway lined by thick rough, a bunker, and a pond on the left starting at 180 yards, and a drainage ditch running down the entire right side. The fairway narrows even further as you near this heavily back-to-front sloped green with a pond on both sides and great bunker placement short right. Par is a good score here.

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The tough opening hole

As mentioned, the 2nd hole was under construction when I played so we had to play it as a par 3. The original hole is a straightaway 350 yard par 4 running back towards to the clubhouse. This fairway is again fairly tight, with ponds on either side at the beginning and some trees on the right towards the end of the fairway. This tiny, well-bunkered green was historically one of the most difficult in the state, but is being softened with the renovation.

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The par 4 2nd

At 504 yards, the 3rd is the first of two par fives at Point Judith. This is a tricky dogleg left with OB running down the entire left side and a pond on the right side of the dogleg running between 210 yards to 300 yards. The aggressive play here is to cut the corner of the dogleg, but this requires great precision given the hazards on both sides. The lay-up is complicated by two bunkers that constrict the fairway about 120 yards short of the green.

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Your view from the 3rd teebox

The 4th hole is the shortest par 4 on the course and was being renovated when I played.  This tight drivable hole features a blind uphill teeshot and a tight fairway lined with sparse trees and bunkers on the left. This green is guarded by three bunkers short.

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The approach on 4

The 5th is a strong 391 yard par 4 that again plays somewhat blind to an uphill fairway. A straight drive is needed here, with trees running down the right side and a pair of bunkers on the left at 210 yards. This green is flanked by bunkers and runs hard back-to-front.

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Approach from the 5th fairway

The 347 yard 6th is on the shorter side but is certainly one of my favorite par fours at Point Judith. This beautiful hole suits my eye perfectly from the teebox with a slight dogleg right fairway lined by numerous bunkers for the first 200 yards. This relatively flat green is tiny and guarded by three bunkers.

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The classic par 4 6th

Playing 380 yards, the 7th yet again plays semi-blind with a fairway above the teebox. This is another fantastic dogleg left par 4 with a tight fairway lined by massive bunker complexes on both the left and right. I’m not sure if these are Ross’ work, but they are tremendous and very penal nonetheless. This green is guarded by a bunker on the left.

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You can’t see the bunkers or green from the 7th teebox

As you stand on the 8th teebox, you’re only a few hundred yards from the Ocean, but unfortunately there are no water views at Point Judith. This 403 yard par 4 is the number 1 handicap hole on the course, but wouldn’t be my choice for that designation. This strong par 4 plays downhill the entire way with OB on the left and a giant bunker complex on the right. This circular green is guarded by a bunker on the right.

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The downhill approach on 8

You have to wait eight holes for the first par 3, but the 9th is worth it as a short 120 yard one-shotter. This hole reminds me a lot of 8th at Newport CC, and I bet William Davis played a big role on both. This minuscule green is difficult to hit and three surrounding greenside bunkers are very popular destinations.

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The par 3 9th
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The postage stamp green on the 9th

At 402 yards, the 10th is a strong, straightaway par 4 with OB down the left and a creek lining the right. This hole is fairly straightforward, but a stunning set of bunkers surrounding this large green make this one of the most memorable holes. These fantastic bunkers were just recently redone and remind me of Tillinghast’s work at Bethpage Black.

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The tight par 4 10th
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Recent work has greatly enhanced the bunkers on 10

The 11th is the second par 3 at Point Judith and plays 173 yards. When we played, the tees were back and it played closer to 200 yards. This hole is relatively level and features a flat, receptive large green guarded by two bunkers short.

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The par 3 11th

The dogleg left 12th plays only 313 yards but is quirky enough to be challenging. Thick woods line the entire lefthand side of the hole and the dogleg doesn’t occur until about 200 yards, forcing the golfer to hit a decently long drive. This back-to-front sloped green is extremely narrow and surrounded by a moat of bunkers.

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The confusing view from the 12th teebox
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The approach on 12

Playing 385 yards, the straightaway par 4 13th runs slightly uphill. This tight fairway is lined by bunkers on the left at 175 yards and one on the right at 250 yards. This elevated green is guarded by bunkers on both sides.

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The par 4 13th

With a teebox jutting out into a pond, the short 326 yard par 4 14th runs uphill the entire way. Thick woods line the left, while a deep single bunker looms on the right at 225 yards. Players must attack this large green through the air, as two deep bunkers guard just short.

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The par 4 14th from the teebox
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Don’t be short on 14

The 15th is probably my least favorite hole at Point Judith as a confusing and difficult 357 yard par 4. A rock wall and trees line the entire left side of this very tight fairway that gets even tighter around 230 yards with a blind pond on the right. Is the ideal play to bomb it over the pond, or lay-up short with iron? I’m not sure of the answer and wasn’t even aware of the pond when I teed off foolishly with 3 wood. This elevated green runs hard back-to-front with bunkers short and right.

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Most of the danger on 15 is hidden from the teebox

The closing stretch of holes at Point Judith is one of the finest in the state with a strong par 3-4-5 trifecta. The 16th is the best par 3 on the course and by far the most difficult as a 196 yarder with a carry over water the entire way. This hole features a huge false front and deep bunkers on either side of the green.

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The challenging par 3 16th

At 425 yards, the 17th is the longest par 4 at Point Judith and also the best. This beautiful hole plays downhill with a bunker on the left at 220 yards and a fairway that predominantly slopes left-to-right. For those laying up, a set of bunkers on the right about 70 yards short of the green will be in play. This back-to-front sloped green is guarded by bunkers on both sides.

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The par 4 17th

I’ve played some fantastic courses in Rhode Island, but I’ve yet to play a par 5 better than the closer at Point Judith. This monstrous 567 yard hole plays back towards the clubhouse and is a true three-shot hole for even the longest of golfers. The better miss on the teeshot is right, as there are bunkers on the left at 250 yards and the Club’s driveway lines the entire left side. The approach shot here is very challenging, with a “Great Hazard” set of crossbunkers running across the fairway about 150 yards short of the green. This tiny green plays back-to-front, and yields very few birdies.

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The beastly par 5 18th
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From just short of the 18th crossbunker

General Comments: Point Judith is a true summer retreat, and we basically had the entire course to ourselves on a cold May day. You can tell the club is thriving, however, with a full membership, amenities including tennis and paddle tennis (?) courts, and spacious range and short game areas. I love the classy clubhouse and locker room, which is painted a beautiful dark green with open wicker lockers.

Verdict: The classic Point Judith Country Club is one of the better courses in Rhode Island and one I highly recommend. Expect plenty of fun, excellent conditioning, and some great holes at this old-school gem.


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