A couple of years ago I made a trip to Boston and played The Country Club, Myopia Hunt Club, Old Sandwich and Boston Golf Club, but for some reason did not play Kittansett on that trip. I can’t remember exactly why we didn’t play, but I think they may have been hosting a club event on the weekend that we were there. Anyway, it was one of the few times that I’ve “left a man behind” on my Top 100 quest. The good news is that with Jet Blue service from Richmond to Boston it is an easy trip and I knew an opportunity would come up again one of these days.
Fortunately, that opportunity came this year when I received an invitation from my buddy John in Alabama to join him on a trip to Boston to visit our mutual friend Hans and play The Country Club, Myopia Hunt, Fishers Island and Kittansett Club. Unfortunately, I was already scheduled to be at the beach that weekend with my wife so as much as it pained me . . . and it did pain me quite a bit . . . I had to say no.
A couple of days later I received another email that indicated that there was an open spot in the group just for the game at Kittansett and if I could make it I could take the spot. Luckily, the Kittansett date did not interfere with the beach trip, so I hopped on the internet and booked a flight as quick as I could. I would fly up first thing in the morning, tee off at Kittansett Club around 2pm and then catch the 5am flight back to Richmond the following morning . . . piece of cake.
When the day of our game arrived I packed a very light bag, got dressed for golf (including my spikeless golf shoes), and boarded the plane for Boston. An hour or so later I was on the ground and headed over to the rental car desk to meet up with Sam, one of the other players in our group, who was going to drive me out to Marion where Kittansett is located. After a little over an hour on the road we knew we were in the right place when we began to see flagsticks and tall native fescue grass just off the left side of the road. From the few glimpses we saw, the course looked incredible and we were suddenly even more excited than we had been. Once we arrived we dropped our golf bags and met the rest of the guys for lunch on the porch.
Kittansett Club was founded in 1922 and was initiated as an idea to help to reduce costs of running the clubhouse for the nearby Beverly Yacht Club. The Beverly clubhouse was open for three months each year, but the reality was that it was only used on the 15 days that there were official races during that time period and sat unused the rest of the time. If a golf course could be built on nearby Butler Point then the clubhouse could be used by both the yacht and golf clubs which would be more practical and would help reduce the expenses for the yacht club. To make a long story short, the Butler Point land was acquired and the Kittansett Club was born. Incidentally the word Kittansett is a Native American word that translates into “by the sea”.
Now that the land was in the club’s possession it was time to build a golf course. The club consulted with both Donald Ross and the Philadelphia golf course design and construction firm of Toomey & Flynn, but no contract was made with either. Using a set of plans that had been developed for the club by Toomey & Flynn, Frederic H. Hood, one of the club’s founders, took personal responsibility for the construction of the golf course and even served as superintendent until the construction process was complete. In August of 1923 there were 9 holes open for play and by October of the same year the full 18 was officially open.
Back here in the 21st century we had just finished up our lunch on the porch and were getting ready to tee off. Course plays to a par of 71 and has teeing options of 6811, 6400, 6118, 5721 and 5536 yards. We decided to take it all the way back and play the 6811 yard option.
Hole 1 – 435 Yards – Par 4
The course starts out with a fairly straight forward, but lengthy par 4. Long hitters have to beware on this hole because the fairway runs out and there is a patch of rough waiting for drives that go too far.
Here is a look at the approach into the green. Sam hits it a mile and his drive ran out of fairway and he had to hit his approach from the rough.
Here is another look at the green from about 100 yards out.
Hole 2 – 447 Yards – Par 4
Next we have another long par 4 that has some mounding and a bunker that runs across the fairway. They were not in play for me, but could be for longer hitters.
Here is a view into the green from just short of the mounding.
Another look towards the green from near the bunker on the right side of the fairway.
Hole 3 – 167 Yards – Par 3
The first one shot hole on the course is the most well known and frequently photographed hole on the course. The green is essentially an island green with sand and water in front and sand all around the sides and back.
Here we have a view from the backside of the green.
Hole 4 – 375 Yards – Par 4
Next we come to the shortest par 4 on the front nine that requires a carry over a waste area to reach the fairway. The carry is less than 200 yards and really shouldn’t be much of a factor for most players.
The hole doglegs a little bit to the right on the approach shot into the green. One interesting detail is that when the course was originally designed one of the principles Mr. Hood implemented was that the base of the flagstick was to be visible from the fairway on all of the par 4s. He wanted to “keep it fair” . . . its a nice thought, but I don’t know that it helped me much!!!
Hole 5 – 431 Yards – Par 4
I loved the tee shot on this lengthy par 4. With the tree on the left, woods on the right and the native grass between the tee box and the fairway there is a little bit of a visual intimidation factor.
Again, the fairway is not continuous all the way to the green. I’m not sure how much the patch of rough comes into play as someone would really have to crush a drive to run out of fairway.
Hole 6 – 424 Yards – Par 4
This hole is a dogleg right and features a series of mounds which is one of the unique design features at Kittansett. When Mr. Hood built the course they found an extraordinary amount of very large and heavy rocks on the property. It was too costly to remove them so they decided to pile them up and plant grass on them to create some interesting hazards on the course. I thought it was one of the features that really gave Kittansett Club its personality. A fade over top of the mounds is the ideal shot from the tee here.
Here we have the approach shot into the green.
Hole 7 – 534 Yards – Par 5
The first three shot hole on the course also happens to be the only one on the front nine. With the right wind and a well positioned drive this hole can be reachable in two for many players.
As we walked off the tee we saw the sign below that indicated the water level on the course after a number of hurricanes that have struck over the years. It’s hard to imagine that standing in the exact same spot in 1954 the water would have been over 2 feet above my head! Hopefully they wont have to add any more lines to the sign in the coming years.
Below is a look into the green from about 140 yards out.
I couldn’t help but notice this cool little trail by the 7th green and took a quick walk down it to see what it was. It lead back to a house and the trail appeared to be someone’s private entrance onto the course. I’ve never really been interested in living on a golf course, but in this case I think I could be convinced.
Hole 8 – 209 Yards – Par 3
Next we have another one shot hole and this is a bit longer than the last one we played. Note the grass covered mounds and the eyebrows around the bunkers. This grass was some nasty, thick stuff and there was about a 50% chance of actually finding a ball that was hit into it.
Here is a look back at the 8th green from the 9th tee. There were some internal contours to many of the greens here but for the most part they were fairly subtle.
Hole 9 – 411 Yards – Par 4
We closed out the front nine with another long par 4 that requires a straight drive to avoid the woods on the right and the native grass on the left.
The fairway on this hole is intersected by a small hazard that longer hitters may need to lay up short of on their drives.
After we holed out on the 9th hole we hit the quaint little halfway hut located behind the green.
Inside I had something that I haven’t had in years . . . a Nilla Wafer. Man, I loved those when I was a kid. Washing them down with a Dark & Stormy was just what the doctor ordered!
Hole 10 – 352 Yards – Par 4
The back nine starts out with a short par 4 with a generous fairway that is about as good of a birdie opportunity that the course has provided so far.
The green has bunkers around it but with a short iron or wedge in hand there aren’t many excuses for missing this green.
Hole 11 – 241 Yards – Par 3
This is one of the coolest holes I have seen. I didn’t love having to hit my DRIVER on a par 3 to a blind green, but it’s a cool novelty every now and then.
The green on this hole is what I think makes it amazingly cool. Its two tiered and the two levels sit at a really unusual angle. I absolutely loved green and I forgot all about having to hit driver to get there once I saw it!
Hole 12 – 393 Yards – Par 4
A draw off the tee here is going to the be ideal shot. The bunker in the middle is in play, but can be carried.
A fairly straight forward green on this hole.
Hole 13 – 375 Yards – Par 4
This hole is a dogleg to the right and a nice little fade is the ideal shape for the drive here.
Here is a look at the approach shot from the corner of the dogleg. Being too long here will likely result in the ball going out of bounds and over the road that runs along the backside of the hole.
Hole 14 – 186 Yards – Par 3
Here we have a mid-length one shot hole with a large green. Just about everyone in our group managed to make a mess of this hole despite the scoring opportunity it presented.
Hole 15 – 545 Yards – Par 5
It’s been a good long time since we played our last par 5 at the 7th hole. This one has a nice and wide fairway so hitting it down the middle as far as possible seems like the best strategy to me.
A look into the green for the 3rd shot. The bunker in the foreground sneaks out into the fairway and should be considered by players who layup on their second shot.
Hole 16 – 403 Yards – Par 4
This is a nice little hole that curves to the left and plays out towards Buzzard’s Bay. You may recall from earlier in this post that Butler Point is the name of the land where Kittansett Club is located and the point stretches several miles out into Buzzard’s Bay which is the water that is visible from all around the course.
A view of the green from about 100 yards out.
Hole 17 – 392 Yards – Par 4
Another longish par 4 that often plays directly into the wind. Avoiding the native grass on the left is a good start to playing this hole well.
Although not visible in this photo there is some native grass and bunkers that can be a big problem for players who miss the green here.
Hole 18 – 491 Yards – Par 5
The course closes with a very friendly par 5 that is reachable in two under the right conditions. Starting the drive up the left side of the fairway with a little fade will be the perfect shot to get into position A to go for the green in two.
The wind was not as stiff as it usually is so there were several of us going for the green in two in our group. Below is a look into the green taken from about 150 yards out.
Once we finished, our group of eight hung out and enjoyed a few of the club’s signature Dark & Stormy’s on the porch which was the perfect way for me to bask in the post round glow that I was feeling. The 3rd hole is the only photo I had seen of Kittansett Club prior to arriving so I hadn’t known what to expect from the course. Somewhere in the middle of the 4th fairway I officially declared my unabashed love for the place. The seaside location, the look of the native grass and the unusual mounding really gave the course the type of unique personality that really speaks to me. On top of a fantastic golf course the actual club itself is as cool as they come. At Kittansett you won’t find an overeager valet waiting to whisk you clubs away or any of the other extraneous amenities seen around many of today’s modern golf clubs. Here they are completely laid back and the experience is 100% about the golf . . . which is just how I like it! This is my kind of place for sure and the type of golf course I could play every day of my life. Without question Kittansett Club is my sleeper hit of the season so far. I absolutely loved it!!!