Course Review: The Kittansett Club – October 20, 2023

I took my game to The Kittansett Club in Marion, Massachusetts during the 3rd week of October. 

This course has been on my “bucket list” for a while now.  Actually, that is not true.  If I knew more about golf courses it should have been on my list ~ but up until I played here, I was very unfamiliar with it.

As many of GolfNewsRI readers probably know what I did not know, The Kittansett Club is ranked among the best courses in the country.

Golf Digest has ranked the course in the 100 Greatest in the United States since 1971.  In the 2023-2034 ranking, it stands 89th.  The previous season’s ranking was 77th and the course peaked in 1999-2000 at number 39.

It is ranked number three in Massachusetts behind The Country Club in Brookline and Old Sandwich in Plymouth.  I had the opportunity to play Old Sandwich in June of this year and it was a nice compare and contrast opportunity.  

Additionally, The Kittansett Club is ranked the 11th Best Course By The Sea by the same publication – ahead of Torrey Pines, Kiawah Island, Monterey Peninsula Club and Chambers Bay. 

Teeing area right on water PHOTO: Course Reviewer

Last August, the club hosted the 67th U.S. Senior Amateur Championship. 

In the days heading up to my tee time, I had not done my research of the course but knew it was a great course.  One of the perceived few negatives of the course is that it is hard to get to.   

I did not have that experience at all.  The course is about a hour from my home in Rhode Island and mostly Route 195 East.  

When you exit route 195, there are  scenic roads heading up to the course.  I was told later that some of the nicer oceanside homes go from $3MM to $5MM plus ~ one of them being owned by Geraldo Rivera’s ex-wife.

Geraldo Rivera’s ex-wife’s home PHOTO: Course Reviewer

As I approach the course, I see many holes before you get to the driveway to enter the clubhouse area.  I was surprised what a large land footprint the course has for only 18 holes.

The Clubhouse and Golf shop are old school and harken back to the year the course was built ~ 1922.  Both are right on the water.  There is no bag drop attendants so I take my clubs to the front of the pro shop and was  instructed to place them on any cart.

I check in and find I am the first  of my group to arrive. 

I am latter told that there is some serious internal member discussion if the club should have tee times or not.  As of this writing, the club does accept tee times. 

I am warmly greeted and provided directions to range.  The range, which also faces the bay, is one of the best conditioned ranges I have ever seen. 

Driving Range at the Kittansett Club PHOTO: Course Reviewer

There are no divots in the hitting areas and the players are provided ample new Titleist range balls.

I have a slow start to my warm up but finish strongly enough to have confidence on the first tee.  I start off hitting the ball ok but double the first and bogey the second and any earlier confidence I had  is being challenged.  

Another reason for concern is that it appears that most of the first few holes are all downwind and this is going to change sooner or later.

A turning point in my round is the par -3 167 yard signature hole.  

This breathtaking hole, which is right on the water, requires a tee shot over water and over a beach. 

The third hole at Kittansett PHOTO: Course Reviewer

With the wind blowing seemingly in all directions at once, I hit a weak iron that fell into the beach area.  I was literally on the beach!  

I then hit a memorable sand shot on the green and made the par putt!

That shot seemingly settled me down and I played much better after that.  The course layout is spectacular.  The course begins and ends on the water with ocean views on virtually every hole.  You can see the Sagamore Bridge and Woods Hole in the distance and on a clearer day one can see the Bourne Bridge.

The wind is strong and I’m told this is a typical weather day.  When in Marion, do like the Marions so I played the course and adjusted my game to the wind.  

The 10th hole at The Kittansett Club PHOTO: Course Reviewer

One of the most gratifying shots I had all day was on the par 3, 230 yard 11th hole.  It was dead into a strong wind so I hit driver and was just off the green and I two putted for par.

As the round proceeds, I am playing well but not making the putts I need for a very good score.  The greens were consistent and consistently excellent. 

Eventually there is terrible luck on the greens but it wasn’t mine.  For quite a while, we had the course to ourselves and had no one behind us and no one ahead of us.  

On the par 4 12th hole, a twosome of  ladies caught up to us.  They were in the middle of the fairway waiting for the green to clear to hit their approaches.  Our host suggested that we let them play though. 

As we moved to the side of the green, one of the women hit an extremely accurate approach – I’m guessing from about 180 yards.  The ball hit the front of the green and rolled up and gently hit the pin and stayed out!  

The four of us never met this person and we felt so bad for her.  They drove up to the green and the other woman quickly two putted for an assumed par and the other woman backhanded a six inch putt for birdie. 

They said thank you for letting them play though, told us they were making up a rained out date here and they teed off number 13 and we never saw them again.

The 17th hole at the Kittansett Club PHOTO: Course Reviewer

It took me much longer than I had hoped to get my game to come around but I finished par, par, par and topped in off with a birdie on the par 5 18th.

The Kittansett Club  was truly an exception golfing experience.  I only realized after the round that the Tee / Rating /Slope was 73.5 /143 so in hindsight, I was delighted with an 82 (par 71).

We stayed for drinks and a quick bite to eat and the food ~ which was delicious – and it seemed that the food was in front of us in about 1 minute after ordering. 

As I drove back to Rhode Island, I was amused with myself for knowing so little about this club prior to playing but I certainly look forward to playing here again next year.

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