The Takeaway: A great test and worthy host of the famed Northeast Amateur, Wannamoisett consistently ranks in the top three courses in Rhode Island. While lacking some character as a whole, the one-shotters are top shelf and the conditioning is nearly perfect. Grade B
Designer: Donald Ross 1914 (Willie Campbell original nine in 1899)
Phone Number: 401-434-1200
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Wannamoisett Country Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 96 Hoyt Ave., Rumford, Rhode Island 02916 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: Wannamoisett is one of Donald Ross' most well regarded designs and certainly one of Rhode Island's most significant tournament courses. Host of the prestigious Northeast Amateur since its inaugural event in 1962, the tournament has a long list of distinguished winners that most clubs would die to lay claim to. Photos of Ben Crenshaw, John Cook, Hal Sutton, David Duval, Luke Donald, Dustin Johnson, and Colin Morikawa are found on the upper floor of the clubhouse as a tribute to the champions. The course plays to a par 69 with golfers not encountering the lone par five on the course until the 17th hole. But don't let a par 69 fool you; the course stretches out to over 6900 yards with one strong par four after another (13 in total) and an excellent collection of one-shotters. Ross maximized the land considering Wannamoisett sits on a mere 104 acres and is the best championship course on that small of a parcel. In fact, Merion's East course, which is widely considered the best course in the world on a small parcel of ground, enjoys 22 more acres than Wannamoisett which testifies to Ross making the best of his opportunity in Rhode Island. The routing does a nice job of taking holes in different directions to help give variety when the nearby coastal winds move across the course, and while carts are available, it is an easy walk on relatively flat ground. Perhaps the thing that impressed me the most at Wannamoisett was the conditioning that found a perfect balance of firm, fast fairways yet delivering receptive greens. On the downside, as trees have been removed over time there is artificial mounding that has been put in those areas that feel wildly out of place and the course is completely surrounded by a neighborhood just blocks from the Seekonk River to the west and the Central Pond on the Massachusetts border to the east; neither of which is in view while playing. The tight, tame terrain makes it difficult for the course to offer a ton of character but makes the most of it through the bunkering and green complexes. Wannamoisett may not blow you away, but would be a great home course where you would rarely lose a ball and would consistently test your game. While not as grand in scale, Oakland Hills and Butler National come to mind as comparable courses in terrain and design.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 3rd Hole – 136 Yard Par 3 – The most memorable hole at Wannamoisett is also its shortest. A wedge or 9 iron should get you to the dance floor which is protected by a fish hook bunker that flanks the left side and curls in front of the green. The raised putting surface isn't large and you either hit it or plan on making a bogey since par saves can be challenging here; especially if missing to the right where the sharp falloff is unforgiving.
Best Par 3: 12th Hole – 234 Yards – Ask the guys in the pro shop what makes Wannamoisett special and a consensus statement will be how good the one-shotters are, and the 12th is a testament to that. In fact, Donald Ross at one point coined this the "finest one-shot in the nation" which is quite high praise from a guy that designed 400 golf courses with no less than 1,600 one-shotters. The 12th features a bowled green that offers some forgiveness as a trade-off to the brutally large Sahara bunker on the right side that the hole gets its name from. This cavernous pit is the last place you want to find yourself, but in case you were planning on bailing left there is a narrow bunker along that side discouraging you from taking that path. The best play is to go long and utilize the backslope to work the ball back towards the center of the green. Ultimately, you'll be patting yourself on the back finding any part of the putting surface rather than negotiating the bunkers that characterize this one-shotter.
Best Par 4: 10th Hole – 416 Yards – A slight dogleg left, the 10th features four bunkers in the driving zone waiting to punish the tee shot that can't stay in the short grass, while some artificial mounding is found beyond the bunkers on the left in case long hitters try to cheat the hole. The approach shot plays to a green with a punchbowl front that will feed balls onto the putting surface as long as they reach the peak of the hill. The fronting hill also creates some deception on how close the green is since the bunker short of the hill can look greenside from a distance.
Best Par 5: 17th Hole – 558 Yards – With there being only one par five on the course, this choice was about as easy as it gets. Teeing off from the northern corner of the property, the 17th features a cross bunker just 140 yards from the back tee and is devoid of bunkers for nearly another 200 yards beyond that. As long as out of bounds is avoided on the left, the tee shot should be trouble free for most players. The real challenge here comes around the green which is protected by four bunkers that flank every side except the back where the 18th tee sits.
Birdie Time: 5th Hole – 372 Yard Par 4 – My favorite hole at Wannamoisett, the dogleg right 5th presents a quality risk/reward opportunity. You'll need 260 yards in the air to clear the last of a trio of bunkers that protect the inside corner of the dogleg while players that double-cross their drive and tug it left may find themselves out of bounds. A good drive should leave a wedge shot in and a great chance to hit it close at this raised greensite. Two of the four bunkers in front of the green are well short of the putting surface and play with your mind more than anything, so take dead aim at the flag and card a birdie here.
Bogey Beware: 2nd Hole – 503 Yard Par 4 – I honestly thought this was a par five when I played it and had to readjust my expectations when I went to record my score. To my credit, the hole did play as a par five when the course first opened, and that was prior to 40 yards being added to the hole in 2009. Not only does this hole tip out over 500 yards, it often has a slightly hurting cross wind which makes it all the more difficult. If the length wasn't enough, Ross placed the green behind a creek that front the putting surface and causes many players to layup on their second shot; especially if they missed the fairway with their tee shot. Wannamoisett delivers as tough of a 1-2 punch to start a course as any you'll find, so try to minimize the damage and give respect to a Par 69 layout that is way more challenging than one might suspect.
Recommended AccommodationsHamilton Village Inn - Located just blocks from Bissel Cove near Wickford Village in a quaint New England setting, Hamilton Village Inn offers affordable accommodations with convenient access to Newport, Providence, the ocean, and of course, the golf courses. Rooms are available are ground level or on the second story to meet your preference and there are a variety of bed configurations to meet your needs.
For a comfortable, affordable stay in Rhode Island, look no further than Hamilton Village Inn. Contact: 401-295-0700 or firstname.lastname@example.org