You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better conditioned and more visually stunning public golf course in southern New England than The Orchard Course at Newport National Golf Club.
This a true delight, both for the senses and the avid golfer in all of us. The Orchard Course stretches to 7,200 yards from the tips and provides a stern test for even the most accomplished players. True to the links-like design of the course the layout plays differently from day to day. When the breeze blows hard off the nearly Atlantic Ocean or Sakonnet Passage it can make The Orchard Course play as difficult as the legendary Scottish links on a windy day.
The Orchard Course was designed by Arthur Hills and his associate Drew Rogers. They fit the routing well into the natural environment of the Rhode Island oceanside. Fescue lines the bent grass fairways and the tee boxes, which presents the impression that the track could just as easily be sitting in Ireland or Scotland than in the Ocean State.
The Orchard Course opened as private facility, but new ownership and management decided to make the change to semi-private several years ago. Lucky us!
“The response we have had to the course has been incredible,” said Matt Adams, a Connecticut native who serves president and general manager of Newport National Golf Club. “I don’t think there is another premium golf course that is available for play in this area. There isn’t anything that compares to the challenge, beauty and experience at Newport National.”
We certainly aren’t going to argue the point. The holes at The Orchard Course offer a pleasing blend, ranging from the long and difficult to the short and sublime. The fairways are ample and the greens on the large side with some undulation.
There are indeed no weak holes on the layout. Unlike some courses that give you a patsy to start with, The Orchard Course comes out swinging with a 522-yard, dogleg left par-five that has water guarding the left side from 150 yards away from the green to the putting surface. It’s rated as the seventh toughest hole on the course.
Number eight is a slight dogleg right par-four that demands a tee shot over a waste area, as does the relatively short, 391-yard par-four ninth where birdie awaits two good shots.
Number 13 is perhaps the best par-three on the course. It measures 170 yards from the tips and plays over water to a large, oblong green that has bunkers guarding each side.
And the 17th may be the toughest par-four on the course, playing almost 490 yards with a huge bunker protecting the left side of the fairway landing area.
The Orchard Course, built on a former nursery farm, has multiple teeing areas to meet the abilities of all players.
“I like to say that the land Newport National was built upon was the canvas Arthur Hills and Drew Rogers created their masterpiece on,” said Adams, who has worked as a commentator for the Golf Channel and has authored several books.
For après golf, the nearby restaurants, shops and historic sights of Newport beckon, and the beaches are close by. There are plenty of great hotels and bed and breakfast establishments in the area. www.newportnational.com