If you like a magical routing, beauty surrounding you on all sides, challenging shot values and superb conditions (and who doesn’t?) then you can’t do much better than The Orchard Course at Newport National in Middletown, Rhode Island.
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.
Reports are that the course came out of the winter in wonderful condition and opened for play on March 16, one of the earliest starting dates in its brief history. There is a new head pro on board for 2008, Dave Johnson.
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 bent grass fairways and the tee boxes, which gives one the impression that the track could just as easily be sitting in Ireland or Scotland than in the Ocean State.
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.
The Orchard Course starts strong with a 522-yard, dogleg left par-five that has water guarding the left side from 150 yards out from the green. 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 most difficult 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 at Newport National Golf Club