Understated & underrated

Cranston/Warwick region stands up nicely alongside its more famous neighbors.

BY JOHN TORSIELLO • PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARK WILLIAM PAUL

For a state so small, Rhode Island has its share of outstanding golf courses. The Cranston/Warwick area includes a handful of enjoyable tracks that will entertain you for a week if you choose to stay and play.

The Edgewood Manor Inn in Cranston served as my base of operations. The manor dates to 1905 when Samuel Priest, a wealthy businessman, commissioned the three-story Greek Revival mansion. The 18-room inn boasts five ornate fireplaces, stained-glass windows, and painted, vaulted ceilings. Owned and run by Andrew Lombardi, it has earned accolades for its gardens, early 20th-century ambience and antique furniture. Nearby is the historic Charles Newhall Home, built in 1892 and recently restored with seven guestrooms decorated with Victorian and Empire furnishings.

The golfing expedition began at Cranston Country Club, a solid course that is playable for golfers of all skill levels. But it also has enough bite (it plays nearly 7,000 yards from the tips) to interest the better players. The coolest hole is the 170-yard eighth that features an island green. I dumped three balls into the drink in a Tin Cup moment before finally finding the putting surface. Designed by Geoffrey Cornish, each hole is distinct, a sure measure of an intriguing layout.

Harbor Lights Marina and Golf Club in Warwick Neck is another Cornish design that has been reduced from 18 to nine holes. It features a sweet view of Narragansett Bay as you approach the ninth green.

West Warwick Country Club is a well-maintained, nine-hole gem that has been home to several of the state’s finest players. Not far away is nine-hole Midville Country Club. Although somewhat short, the conditions are good and the routing is interesting.

Foster Country Club plays approximately 6,200 yards from the tips and offers an interesting layout. The strength of the course is in the par-3 holes, especially the 237-yard third. The course ends in unique fashion with back-to-back par 3’s, including the 200-yard 18th.

Goddard State Park in Warwick has a nine-hole course that is ideal for beginners. The park has many other things to do after golf, including 18 miles of horse-riding trails and an equestrian show area. You can also choose to relax on the expansive lawns, gaze at the more than 80 varieties of trees from around the world and throw a blanket down for a picnic.

If you have the kids with you, you might want to spend time at Mulligan’s Island in Cranston. There are two miniature golf courses, a 60-stall driving range, a nine-hole par-3 course and a USGA-rated 18-hole pitch-and-putt course. There are also batting cages and beach volleyball courts.

There are a number of superb restaurants and pubs in the Cranston/Warwick area. At Not Your Average Joe’s, located in the Warwick Mall, I feasted on delicious Philly cheese steak egg rolls and meatloaf that was served atop mashed potatoes, crowned with various vegetables and onions, all draped in gravy.

Fatbelly’s, an Irish pub, is a great spot to hang out after golf and recount the day’s round. It features Irish-themed fare and craft brews. Also, you could check out the Spanish offerings at the appropriately named Spain Restaurant. If you’re craving Italian food, stop into Macera’s Soup and Sauce.

There are a variety of other activities in the area that have nothing to do with golf. Nickle Creek Vineyard is a family-owned winery in Foster that specializes in small production and handcrafted wines. The Washington Secondary Bike Path is the state’s second-longest bike path at 14.2 miles, running from Cranston Street in Cranston to Central Coventry. If looking at the stars and planets is your thing, make it a point to visit the Seagrave Memorial Observatory in Scituate, where the group Skyscrapers, Inc. maintains four telescopes. There are also two charter fishing boat operations based in Warwick.

While Providence and Newport attract much of the attention during the summer, the Cranston/Warwick area of “Little Rhody” can provide a laid-back golfing getaway.

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