Golfing at The Preserve Resort

The Preserve - Lone Golf Resort In Smallest State Has Big Vision

Published on June 30, 2024

Only one resort in Rhode Island has a golf course and, fittingly for America’s smallest state, it’s a short course.

But The Preserve Resort & Spa is a big property with big aspirations. About 25 miles west of Newport and 20 miles northeast of Mystic, Connecticut, the 3,500-acre luxury getaway is seeking to position itself as one of the top outdoor experience destinations in New England, if not the northeast U.S.

Golf is really a complementary amenity at The Preserve, which also features hiking, horseback riding, target shooting, archery, kayaking, rock-climbing, ziplining, and more. There’s even a Bentley experience in which participants can drive the company’s posh SUVs on a rugged off-road course on the property.

In some respects, it’s challenging to encapsulate exactly what The Preserve is, although some suggest it’s like a “bougie” Big Cedar, meaning a more upscale version of the growing outdoor resort in Missouri created by Bass Pro Shops founder and conservationist Johnny Morris.

The Preserve is many things mixed in one, with 1,000 members spread across five tiers of membership, retail and restaurants that are open to the public, private residences big and small, a four-story guest lodge, a wellness spa, and even authentic “Hobbit Houses” that can be rented out by members or resort guest for meals or gatherings. The team at The Preserve had to get special permission from the family of J.R.R. Tolkien, the author who wrote The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, to create the intimate facsimile straight out of Middle Earth.

The Preserve has a sporting club that boasts an 18-station shooting course (a progressive design similar to the layout of an 18-hole golf course) and the longest indoor shooting range in the world, a member-only offering with a German-made system that replaces the air every six minutes.

Above the latter is a Sporting Shoppe that’s open to the public, selling everything from camping gear and canoes to shotguns in the luxury gun room that cost a quarter of a million dollars. And the retail side is getting only bigger, basically doubling in size with an expansion that includes more floor space, a café, and even a 33,000-gallon fish tank near the building’s main entrance.

The public versus private elements of The Preserve aren’t necessarily easily understood; even for many residents in the immediate area there’s still an air of mystery surrounding the club.

But the property has a healthy membership for its Sporting Club and strong demand for its on-site residences, the newest of which are 40 additional “little homes” of 450-to-1,500 square feet that are under construction. Meanwhile, bigger homes can sell for up to $4 million, although the full members who don’t own a home on property are able to stay in various on-site accommodations up to a dozen times a year.

And The Preserve is an increasingly popular getaway for guests from Connecticut, New Jersey and New York as well as Rhode Island, whether for family gatherings or high-end bachelor parties where visitors can rent the “Warming Hut” tucked away in the woods for private shooting sessions or spend time in the Cohiba Tent for a curated cigar experience.

A new event barn – one that can be used for weddings and conferences — is being built near one of the highest points on property, just beyond the main guest lodge.

With so many things to do at The Preserve, golf can feel almost like an afterthought.

But the Par 3 course is a tough and testing design, with an 18-hole layout that utilizes the footprint and playing corridors of a former regulation course originally done by architect Tripp Davis. It’s available to members and guests of the resort, as well as a reciprocal benefit for those who stay at the nearby Ocean Club at Atlantic Beach, but still gets very limited play, maybe just north of one thousand rounds a year.

Guests, members or homeowners looking for a full-length golf experience, one of The Preserve’s stylish Bentleys can provide door-to-door service (and even champagne in crystal flute glasses) to local public gems such as Meadow Brook Golf Course and Exeter Country Club.

Newport National, regarded by some publications as the top public course in the state, is a little bit further away, as is the private and exclusive Newport Country Club, the site of this year’s U.S. Senior Open.

Technically though, The Preserve is the only resort in Rhode Island that has its own golf course. While it might be smaller in size, it’s just one part of a vision that’s much larger. And continuing to grow.

SOURCE: Forbes by Erik Matuszewski

Article on The Preserve Sporting Club & Resort in Forbes
Forbes article highlights the expansive vision and luxurious offerings of The Preserve Resort & Spa in Rhode Island.