Sakonnet Golf Club Course Review
I was fortunate enough to play Sakonnet Golf Club with the Donald Ross Society who go around and play Donald Ross designed courses throughout the US, society members get to play courses that they may not ever get a chance to play and you also get to meet a lot of great people who share a love of golf. Sakonnet is located in Little Compton, Rhode Island about a 5 minute drive from Donald Ross’ vacation cabin which we had the pleasure of having an early lunch at before our round. The lunch was hosted by Donald Ross’s great grandchildren who also made a very large timeline of all the courses he designed throughout the years. It was quite an experience to be in one of golfs greatest architects summer residence.
Sakonnet has a very golden age feel to the layout here. Gil Hanse has since come in and brought back many of Donald Ross’ original design elements that Ross implemented 90 years ago. The one unique feature here is the rock walls that sit along several holes, if you have every played North Berwick in Scotland it will most definitely remind you of that. There are several holes that are set along the ocean and those hole are very tricky when the wind is up. Its not an overly long course but it doesn’t have to be since it sits so close to the ocean. You’ll find a mix of unique holes here including the drivable/risk reward par 4 17th Hole.
1st Hole Par 4 383 yds – The first hole is a short uphill hole that brings you to the highest point and the best views on the course. There is ample fairway here to get your round started just avoid bunkers located on both sides of the fairway. A common feature found on many Donald Ross courses here is a bunker 50 yds from the green, ff your tee shot finds trouble avoid this bunker at all costs. The green is protected by two bunkers left and one on the right.
2nd Hole Par 3 180 yds – The second hole is the most scenic on the course with views of Newport across the bay. The hole runs downhill slightly to the green and there is no protection from the wind or elements here, its has a true links feel to it. The green is protect by bunkers left and right and two bunkers about 30yds short of the green. The green here has several gentle slopes in various places so have a straight put would be rare.
3rd Hole Par 5 477 yds – This reachable par 5 for the longer hitter. Your tee shot is semi blind uphill to an ample fairway, avoid going left as there is a rock wall separating the 3rd and 4th fairways that runs most of the length of both holes. Donald Ross has put in a cross bunker here located just enough from the green that will make you think a bit more on your second shot, either go for it and carry the bunkers or lay up short of them. This hole has a distinct North Berwick feel to it with the rock wall and the “Perfection Hole” looking cross bunkers. The green is guarded by 3 small bunkers left and one of the right. The green is relatively flat so you have a good chance to get up and down if you miss the green.
4th Hole Par 4 407 yds – This hole is routed by towards the bay, the fairway here is wide just avoid the pesky rock wall on the left on your slightly uphill tee shot, your second shot is down a gentle slope to the green set over looking the bay to Newport. There is a bunker 50 yds short right of the green that should be avoided. The green is guarded by two small bunkers left and one bunker right 10 yds off the green. This green is on the small size and has lots of slope around the back and left side.
5th Hole Par 4 368 yds – This short hole plays slightly up hill to a wide and generous fairway. The green is surrounded by 4 small bunkers 2 left and two right, the green has some slope to it and there is a runoff area on the right side of the green to allow you to chip with the club of your choosing.
6th Hole Par 3 214 yds – This medium length par 3 is a classic design, the area directly in front of the green is a reverse bowl allowing all shots along the ground to run up onto the green. There are two bunkers right of the green which will challenge a missed shot and the left side contains a large grass cover area with two mounds that is tricky to chip from as I found out.
7th Hole Par 4 384 yds – The seventh is a short hole giving the golfer a good chance at a par or birdie, the fairway here is very generous and the only trouble on the hole is a small bunker right around the driving area. The your second shot is to a green guarded by two bunkers located at the front of the green left and right. The green is one of the flatter greens on the course so you have a good chance at making your putt.
8th Hole Par 4 361 yds – Another short par 4 but a tougher drive, the trouble on the tee shot here is left a good aiming point is at the fairway bunker located 60 yds from the green. The green itself is slightly elevated and bunkers guard the front and right side of the green.
9th Hole Par 3 202 yds – A longer Par 3 especially if the wind is coming of the ocean. This hole was redesigned by Gil Hanse it definitely has that golden age feel only done with modern equipment. This hole has 5 bunkers on it two right and left and one 70 yds short to catch those shots we wish we could have over. The green is slightly elevated so missing the green will leave you with sand wedge in your hand.
10th Hole Par 4 412 yds – This medium length par 4 is setup by the tee shot, the play off the tee is to keep your ball as close to the right bunkers as possible. Your second shot will have to contend with the forced carry over a hazard area that guards the front right part of the green. Their are four bunkers guarding the drive here three on the right and one left for the longer hitters. The green is angled for shots from the fairway but be aware there is a bunker fronting the green and one left depending on where you come in from. The green has undulation on every part so there are no flat putts on this green.
11th Hole Par 4 396 yds – This hole brings you into the part of the course that is wide open. There’s no trouble on this hole except the left side, a drive right might find the adjacent fairway or rough. Your second is into a smaller green that has a small creek running across the fairway. There are no bunkers guarding the green here just one short of the creek on the left. The green is fairly flat here and not difficult to two putt.
12th Hole Par 5 517 yds – The longest hole on the golf course, your opening shot is hit to a generous fairway, there isn’t a lot of trouble here if you can keep your ball out of thicker rough. The hole definitely give all golfer a chance at a par here. Your second shot must avoid the fairway bunker left about 150 yds from the green. The third shot into an elevated green surround by bunkers and mounding at the front of the green. The green is smaller but the pin can be placed in several places on the green giving members a good variety of 3rd shots.
13th Hole Par 4 – 418 yds – Your drive here is wide open again the only trouble on this hole is as you approach the green, the fairway is wide and most drives will find the fairway, your second shot is into a reversed bowl green that undulates from back to front any shot nearing the edges of the green could be repelled down into the fringe or rough. The left side of the green is especially sloped so the safe shot is towards the middle of the green here.
14th Hole Par 4 – 399 yds – This hole medium length par 4 doglegs left, there are two bunkers left and one right, the best line here is down the left side over the rock wall leaving you with a direct shot into the green. Your second shot is uphill and you will not be able to see the bottom of the pin. The green location is between the start of the small part of the house and the the two trees right, its guarded by two bunkers that front the green on either side. The green is fairly flat in the front in the front and middle, the back has a small bowl to bring your shot back towards the middle.
15th Hole Par 4 – 405 yds – This hole gently doglegs left like the last hole, there are two large bunkers guarding the left side, the best shot is down the left side but there is plenty of room right here. The second shot is to a green with no bunkers but two small horizontal hazards that guard any shot left 30-40yds short of the green. The green is flat on the left and center the right part of the green slopes off toward the rough and should be avoided for your best attempt at a par or birdie.
16th Hole Par 3 – 158 yds – This par three has one bunker guarding the right side of the green, the left side of the green is safe option as it has been mowed down giving players the options to fairly easy chip or even a putt. The green has medium sized hump left and your ball could deflect in any direction from here. The front and middle of the green are fairly flat and the back left of the green is bowl shaped and any ball long will move toward the left.
17th Hole Par 4 – 310 yds – This risk reward hole is a perfectly located hole in a tournament situation, if a player needs a birdie they can attempt to cut the corner and drive the green. The safe shot is anywhere left as there is a hazards that guards the right all the way down past the green.The further left and long your tee shot is the more the green opens up, there is a bunker that guards the front and left of the green, you second shot must carry onto the green or you risk have your third shot from the bunker. The green is fairly flat for being such a short hole so you have a good chance at a birdie here.
18th Hole Par 4 – 347 yds – The finishing hole at Sakonnet is a short par 4, the longer hits can challenge the hole and have a short chip in, for the mere mortals a shot down the middle will suffice and leave you with a short shot, you must avoid the bunkers down the right side of the fairway. The green is guarded by two small skinny bunkers that run from the front of the green to the back both left and right. The green has a fair bit of slope on it and it makes an interesting finish to your day of golf.