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CASE STUDY: South Shore Golf Course evaluated by NCAA Division I collegians

By David Rogers. NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — On May 16, we ran a story about our recent trip to South Kingstown, R.I., where we got a firsthand look at Blowing Rock-based Ron Cutlip’s latest golf course design: South Shore Golf Club. During our visit, we ran across the men’s golf team from the University of Rhode Island, who have adopted the 9-hole course in the middle of a residential development as one of their primary practice venues.

Communicating with them through community developer Larry LeBlanc and Cutlip, the head coach, Gregg Burke, and a few of the players from the team offered their insights about the course and its features, including hole-by-hole characteristics.

Spring had not quite arrived in mid-April, but the course was already beginning to “green,” if not yet fully.

Photographic image by David Rogers

Those Teaching Moments

“From the time you drive into the beautiful homes within the complex, with the golf course just ahead, you know you are in for a very special playing experience,” said Coach Burke in his review. “The layout is so well designed that it is a challenge for a high handicapper as well as to the Division I golfer and top amateur.

“The two hallmarks of the course,” added Burke, “are the challenge of the tight fairways’ tee shots, with challenging bunkering to access the green — and the incredible green complexes themselves. The size of the greens and the devilish slopes and tucked areas allow for more pin placements than virtually any course around.

“This is not a golf course where you look at the yardages and think birdies,” Burke concluded. It is one where you look at the holes and think respect. Along with Whitinsville Golf Club, the Par Three Course at Shelter Harbor, South Shore is a ‘top three’ nine-hole layout in New England.”

Ron Cutlip, left, greets University of Rhode Island senior Geronimo Narrizano. Photographic image by David Rogers

Geronimo Narizzano, a senior from Buenos Aires, Argentina: “The best quality of the golf course is the multiple tee areas and the incredible number of pin placement options. You can play this course over and over and it will feel different every time.”

Seb Carlsson, a freshman from Narragansett: :The best part of the golf course is the green structures. So many options and so many tricky putts out there.”

Aidan O’Donovan, a sophomore from Somerville, Mass.: “Overall, the course is very fair. It has a tough par 5 and a (reachable) par 4, which I think every course should have. The greens are tricky with false fronts and tiers but they are also very fair. It is just flat out a great golf course, tee to green.”

Brandon Gillis, Assistant Coach who played for Wake Forest and Rhode Island: “This (course) is both fun and challenging. From the start, you see it is a beautiful layout with great bunkering. The greens complexes make the course great. There are so many tee shot and pin options. You could make this as easy or as hard as you want and it would be a fun round either way.”

Photographic image by David Rogers


No. 1:

    • Terrific opener made tougher by the false front and the traps to the right.
    • Bunkers and trees make this a tough tee shot unless you decide to lay up.
    • The smart way to play it is mid-iron/wedge but the temptation to go for it makes it great.

No. 2:

    • Visually a great golf hole with both easy and difficult pin options.
    • The different tee block options can change this hole dramatically as can the pin options. Maybe the toughest tee shot on the course.
    • If the pin is below the ridge you just hit a shot that finds the fairway and then use the slope. Otherwise, you probably want a little more out of the tee shot.

No. 3:

    • Wow. Just a great green and the best par three on the course.
    • The giant dip in front of the green makes this a tougher hole, visually.
    • The green is tough and a four-putt is not out of the question.
    • So many options for distance make this a different hole every time.
    • One of the best par threes in RI.

No. 4:

    • Bunkering left and tree line right make this a decision hole. You can bust a drive and have little in but you bring risk into the equation.
    • Great green!
    • You cannot see the hole from the tee so with well-placed bunkers in the fairway, this is a really tough hole.
    • Loved this hole. Fun tee shot and better green.
The backdrop to No. 5 includes an historic rock wall dating back to the 1600s. Photographic image by David Rogers

No. 5:

    • Another risk/reward tee shot. Super wide fairway that can lull you into being lazy off the tee.
    • The easiest green on the golf course but you still need to get it close to make birdie.
      Only easy hole out there.

No. 6:

    • Best hole on the golf course. Layup off the tee almost guarantees par but if you risk the bunker and the trees right, you can get home in two.
    • Green is long and thin which makes for great pin options.
    • The landing area looks wider than it is.
    • The best part of the hole is the green, which slopes front to back – very rare in golf.
    • Reachable par 5 with a narrow second shot into the green.
    • Two good shots and you can make 3 or 4 but a bad tee ball or (poor) second shot and double bogey comes into play pretty quickly.
    • Easy hole until you hit a bad tee shot and then you are punching out and hoping for par.
    • Best hole for sure. Depending on where you are with your score or in your match will decide how you play this.

No. 7:

    • Most severe slope on the golf course. Pin back left makes it crazy tough.
    • Like No. 3, the pin placement makes the hole. It can be a easy birdie to a scramble bogey!
    • Everything about this hole says ‘stay right’ — but if you are too far right and the pin is near the edge of the slope you could see a very big number.
    • Another hole that looks easy from the tee box but can be tough if pin is near slope.

No. 8:

    • Fun hole because you can reach it with a hybrid but going over turns a birdie into a par or worse.
    • Visually challenging and one would think to go for it every time because the layup is not easy.
    • Still can’t decide if this is a really easy hole or a tough hole.
    • Hate to say it but the only hole I didn’t love. Looking forward to seeing what they do with the giant waste area to the left.
    • Green needs to grow in a but more.
No. 9 will have a fountain — a water hazard? –when fully operational. Photographic image by David Rogers

No. 9:

    • Could be the prettiest hole on the course with the creek just in front.
    • Terrific finishing hole.
    • Water is in play on tee shot and second shot.
    • The trees blocking the approach if you are on the wrong side is challenging.
    • Funky angle off the tee box and don’t go right.
    • A good tee ball and can be set up nicely in the fairway for birdie.
    • Great golf hole! Not sure where the clubhouse will be but this would be a great one to see from a deck of some kind.


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