Best in State

The best golf courses in Rhode Island

You can head to upstate Vermont and New Hampshire, or western Maine or Massachusetts, for a certain flavor of New England that comes in the form of ancient mountains, lost-in-time hamlets, snowdrift winters and electric fall colors. The golf courses of Rhode Island show off another version of New England, this one centered around the historic beach and port cities of the state's southern shore where Moby Dick meets the Vanderbilts.

That unique maritime essense permeates the atmosphere of six of this year's ranked courses, and several, like Newport Country Club, The Misquamicut Club, Sakonnet and Warwick Country Club, have holes that run alongside the ocean and bays. The course that doesn't, Wannamoisett, is equally unique, a 1914 Donald Ross design that occupies one of the smallest footprints of any course in the country, barely 90 acres.

Below you'll find our 2023-'24 ranking of the Best Golf Courses in Rhode Island.

We urge you to click through to each individual course page for bonus photography, drone footage and reviews from our course panelists. Plus, you can now leave your own ratings on the courses you’ve played … to make your case why your favorite should be ranked higher. 

(Parentheses indicate the course's previous ranking.)

1. (1) Newport Country Club
Private
1. (1) Newport Country Club
Newport, RI
History was made here in 1894 when the nine-hole Newport Country Club, one of five founding members of the USGA, became America’s first championship venue, hosting both the inaugural U.S. Amateur and, in the fall of 1895, the inaugural stroke-play U.S. Open Championship. In 1899, Davis added the club's second nine on the property's lower section, stretching it out to the Atlantic shoreline. A.W. Tillinghast remodeled the course in the 1920s, resulting in the most authentic links experience Tilly ever created, or perhaps, more accurately, co-created. Over the past 20 years, consulting architect Ron Forse has faithfully restored many Tillinghast greens and bunkers lost over time. Newport is the rare nationally-ranked course that’s never had a fairway irrigation system. Weather dictates how firm and fast it plays.
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2. (3) Shelter Harbor Golf Club
Private
2. (3) Shelter Harbor Golf Club
Charlestown, RI
Though the late club founder and northeastern financier Finn Caspersen was not an avid golfer, he was intrigued by the idea of building a club near his summer home in Rhode Island. But the property he had was challenging and quite severe in places, strewn with wetlands and studded with huge boulders. He ultimately determined that Hurdzan/Fry was the firm that had the environmental chops and creative juice to make the most of it. Though the holes were limited in where they could go, they achieve a desired “old New England” flavor that mixes well with the more historic courses in the neighborhood and possess a dynamic range of strategic lines, carry options and green sizes. The early 1900s bunkering, crafted by Coore & Crenshaw shaper Jeff Bradley, is icing on the cake.
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3. (2) Wannamoisett Country Club
Private
3. (2) Wannamoisett Country Club
Rumford, RI
Built on just 89 acres, barely room for 18 holes, no room for even a small practice range, with lots of bunkers and tiny greens, the Donald Ross-designed Wannamoisett has long held the reputation of the Sugar Ray Leonard of golf courses, compact but carrying plenty of punch. The course has received a number of renovations over the decades, that latest by Andrew Green in 2021 that included green and fairway expansions, the rebuilding of the bunkers in a more authentic Ross style (based on the architect's field notes and sketches) and the continuation of an existing tree clearing program. A long-time host to one of amateur golf’s premier events, the Northeast Amateur Invitational, Wannamoisett is considered today the best par 69 layout in the land.
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4. (4) The Misquamicut Club
Private
4. (4) The Misquamicut Club
Westerly, RI
4.4
45 Panelists
This is the definition of a great classic hidden gem with an original design by Donald Ross and later work done by Seth Raynor. The compact routing makes great use of land movement and boasts challenging green complexes. The fabulous inland holes include the tremendous 165-yard Volcano hole at the eighth. The back 9 plays in and around lowland marshy areas and has a flat but great collection of holes where you navigate in and around the marshlands.
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5. (6) Sakonnet Golf Club
Private
5. (6) Sakonnet Golf Club
Little Compton, RI
4.6
23 Panelists
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6. (5) Warwick Country Club
Private
6. (5) Warwick Country Club
Warwick, RI
4.2
32 Panelists
Warwick Country Club might be the second best par 69 course in the U.S., behind only Wannamoisett Country Club, which is just 17 miles away on the other side of Providence. Both courses were designed by Donald Ross—Ross laid out the first nine holes at Warwick in the early 1920s—with the latter property situated on the shore of Narragansett Bay. Geoffrey Cornish added the second nine in the early 1950s, what is now most of today's second nine. The clubhouse and pool occupy the most coveted views and real estate, but the expansive bay is visible from much of the course, including the original eighth and ninth holes with their greens set next to the water.
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