Course Review: Rhode Island Country Club – June 26, 2023

I had the opportunity to play Rhode Island Country Club this week.  In many ways, RICC is a gem of a course and historic in Rhode Island golf lore.  

It is almost impossible to separate the course from its long history of hosting the CVS Charity Classic.

The CVS Charity Classic PHOTO: Joe Calabro

CVS no longer sponsors this event. No one does. It partially fell out of favor when CVS Health moved from highly competent CEO Tom Ryan (who really loves golf) to highly competent CEO Larry Merlo (who really likes golf) to highly competent CEO Karen Lynch (who apparently doesn’t like golf so much). 

The firm ended its sponsorship of the tournament and the event ended its 23 year history a few years ago ~ much to the chagrin of golf -loving Rhode Islanders

A few of my best memories of the CVS Classic revolve around PGA Tour greats Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

Years ago, one of my relatives went to a CVS Charity gala dinner with her husband. She didn’t love golf, but knew very well who Arnold Palmer was and what he represented to golf. She wanted to go up to him at the gala and ask for an autograph.  Her husband didn’t think that was a very good idea and deemed it may be inappropriate. 

The wife responded, “he has a sharpie in his hand and is looking around for more people.” She got Arnie’s autograph.

Years ago, the Great Jack Nicklaus graced the CVS Charity Classic with his presence – a great coup for the Tournament.

My brother-in-law was my guest and Nicklaus said hello to him on his walk to the 4th hole. My brother in law was grinning from ear to ear and smiled in disbelief that the great Jack Nicklaus acknowledged him. Then Nicklaus – nursing a bad hip / pull hooked his drive into the trees on the left.

Just a few of the players who have come to the CVS Classic

My brother in law’s mood went from astonishment ~ to well ~ astonishment.  Even with a bad hip and playing in pain, Nicklaus did not want to disappoint the eager patrons waiting to see the greatest golfer in history.

The CVS charity classic was built upon the relationships that Brad Faxon (highest Official World Golf Ranking number 11) and Billy Andrade (highest Official World Golf Ranking Number 42) had with their fellow Tour members during their playing days. As they aged out of their prime playing years, their ability to convince top draw players to go RICC waned. 

Another financial issue that attracted players to Rhode island Country Club and the CVS Charity Classic was that players who missed the cut at previous week’s U.S. Open could go and play the Sunday pro-am and make $5,000 per 18 holes.

Some of the players recouped their expenses from the missed cut by playing both the morning and afternoon pro-am.  Recently, the PGA Tour began giving professionals who missed a US Open cut $10,000 ~ making the money from the CVS Charity less important.

When I arrived at the club, I was warmly greeted by the staff who took my clubs.  Unexpectedly, I was not allowed to take my cart across the street to the driving range and could only walk there. 

The driving range PHOTO: course Reviewer

I took my three favorite clubs ~  driver, 5 wood and 7 iron ~ to the range.  I had a terrific warm up and my expectations were high.

I started off the round very strongly – excellent drives and irons. I putted the near perfect greens well.  Out of the blue, I began struggling with my driver mid-round and had a heck of a time playing my game. Fortunately, my last four holes – all across the street and on the water, were strong.

The bay PHOTO: Course Reviewer

RICC is always in wonderful shape, but it is not a course I would want to play all of the time.  In a perfect world, they would have 36 holes for variety – which I think the course lacks.

The after round food was a 10 out of 10.

As you would expect, the course, near the water, lacks land mass and the range is very small and very close to the 18th hole. One is not allowed to hit more than 250 yards on the range. 

All in all, RICC was in near perfect condition and I get to play it once a year, which is enough and perfect for me.

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