Take a Golfing Road Trip Through Connecticut

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Keney Park Golf Course Hartford, CT

Thanks to The Golfing Magazine Course Play Stimulus Program!

From the Northwest Hills to the Quiet Corner, the Greater Hartford area to Long Island Sound, your choices for a round of golf in Connecticut are seemingly endless.

Thanks to Golfing Magazine’s fabulous “Free Golf” subscription offer you’ll get a complimentary round of golf on a number of courses in Connecticut. Check out the details of this awesome offer in this issue, call 860-563-1633, or visit www.FreeGolf.net to sign up. There is still a ton of time left to enjoy all the courses on our list.

Here are some of the best public (and a few private) tracks Connecticut has to offer; and they are yours to play for a cart or a small service fee by partnering with us.

Willow Brook Golf Course (www.willowbrookgc.com) was voted the 2017 Course of the Year by the New England Golf Course Owners Association and has won plaudits from various publications. There are 13 par-threes measuring from 85 yards to 217 yards and five par-fours, the most difficult of which is the 373-yard finishing hole that bends slightly to the right. The other par-fours are on the short side, which makes them approachable for beginners and fun for better players who can try and drive the green and make eagle. The most demanding par-three is the 217-yard sixth, which asks for a long iron or fairway wood off the tee from accomplished golfers.

Keney Park Golf Course (www.keneyparkgolfcourse.com)in Hartford underwent renovations and upgrades turned what was a rundown layout into a very good course again. The par-70 golf course occupies Hartford’s historic 700-acre Keney Park, located in the city’s north end. The first nine holes of the course were finished in 1927, and the remaining nine were completed in 1930. Keney was designed by notable early 20th century American architect Devereux Emmet, who has several illustrious courses to his credit, including Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., the site of several U.S. Opens.

The 27-hole Stanley Golf Course (www.stanleygolf.com) in New Britain has long been considered one of the premier daily fee facilities in the state. With three distinct nines to select from and some of the best conditions in the Greater Hartford area, Stanley has a dedicated following among the state’s golfers. Some modifications were made a few years back to the course, with several new or reshaped holes created and some shifting of the nines, which made the course even more interesting and a tad more challenging.

Stanley Golf Course New Britain, CT
Stanley Golf Course
New Britain, CT

Hunter Golf Club (www.huntergolfclub.com) in Meriden offers a well-rounded test of golf, with great views of surrounding trap rock ridges and Castle Craig in Meriden’s Hubbard Park, which can be seen while playing the fifth hole. The layout has one of the most challenging and perplexing opening holes you will find anywhere. It’s only 368 yards from the back tees, but a stream dissects the fairway a little over halfway to the green, so the dilemma is to take driver and risk hitting it short or right and into the water, or lay up and be left with a long approach to an elevated green. The 10th hole is a demanding 587-yard par-five that bends to the left and has water hazards on the left side of the fairway and near the green, which makes the second shot and approach tricky.

Robert McNeil re-worked Mohegan Sun Golf Club ( www.MoheganSunGolfClub.com ) at Pautipaug, and took a layout first designed by Geoffrey Cornish and reworked by Stephen Kay in 2002 and created something special. McNeil opened up to course to give it somewhat of a links feel on many holes, with mounded fairway and greenside bunkers and tall fescue grass growing in the rough areas. In all, five holes were totally rebuilt, the bunkers redesigned and all new greens installed.

Mohegan Sun Golf Club
Baltic, CT
7th_Hole

Fox Hopyard Golf Club (www.GolfTheFox.com ) in East Haddam, designed by Roger Rulewich, is considered one of the premier daily fee layouts in southern New England. The club offers a blend of challenging golf, first-class customer care and a setting that is difficult to beat. There isn’t a weak hole at Fox Hopyard. At almost 7,000 yards from the back markers, which carry a slope rating of 136, the par-71 course offers a stern test for even the best players. But five sets of tees allow the track to be enjoyed by golfers of all abilities. The par-three fourth and par-five fifth may be the best one-two punch in the region.

Fox Hopyard Golf Club East Haddam, CT 7thHole
Fox Hopyard Golf Club
East Haddam, CT
7thHole

Norwich Golf Club (www.NorwichGolf.com) is known for its fine playing conditions and as a tricky layout that is approachable and interesting for players of all abilities. The course opened in 1925, on July 4th no less. It was designed by Tull and Tull, a famous golf course architectural firm of the day, and there is some indication that Walter Travis, a noted designer and legendary amateur player, had a hand in the routing, or at least offered suggestions to Tull and Tull. Norwich isn’t long, just 6,191 yards from the tips. But its slope of 131 from the championship markers gives you an idea of just how difficult it can be to navigate this track.

Designed in 1958 by Wendell Ross, Pequot Golf Club (www.PequotGolf.com) in Stonington has been played by such greats of the game as Jack Nicklaus, who in 1966 set the “official” course record of 65 that still stands today. Pequot’s par 70, 18-hole layout challenges players of all skill levels and is an enjoyable track routed through mature woodlands The semi-private course measures 5,903 yards from the longest tees, has a slope rating of 118 and a 68.7 USGA rating.

Shennecossett Golf Course (www.groton-ct.gov/depts/parksrec/shenny) in Groton, built in 1898, is as close to a true links course as you will find in the Nutmeg State. The flat layout has the design features–pot bunkers, tall fescue grass off the fairways and even three holes on or near Long Island Sound–that are hallmarks of links courses. When the wind blows hard at Shenny it can bend the flagsticks and make some par-fours impossible to reach in two. The “new” holes at Shenny, originally designed by Ross, are 15, 16 and 17, with the 16th, a 400-yard par-four, finishing on a green that lies within a chip shot of Long Island Sound.

Shenecossett Golf Course
Groton, CT

Connecticut National Golf Club (www.CTNationalGolf.com) in Putnam was reborn after extensive renovations several years ago added 800 yards of length to the original 6,169 yards, as well as a whole lot of modern styling and distinction to the track. In all, some 4,000 trees were removed, new fairways seeded and sodded, bunkers added or altered, and new green complexes built. It’s now one of the best daily fee layouts on Southern New England. The reworking of Connecticut National Golf Club turned the layout into a pleasant mix of links and parkland holes.

Manchester Country Club ( www.ManCC.com ) opened in 1917 and was designed by two early 20th century course architects, Tom Bendelow and Devereaux Emmett, the latter creating famed Congressional Country Club in Washington, D.C., and, as you have read, Keney Park’s golf course. Manchester features superb conditions and bunkers placed strategically around the fairway landing areas and putting surfaces, which puts a premium on accuracy both off the tee and on approaches to the medium-sized greens. The course plays only 6,339 yards from the tips and has a par of 72, but the slope of 128 gives you an idea about the challenge you will face here. There are some elevation changes and water comes into play on several holes.

Tallwood Country Club ( www.TallwoodCountryClub.com) in Hebron is known for its classic New England landscape. Situated on over 200 acres of rolling country farmland, it’s another perfect place for a quiet golf getaway. The course offers a pleasingly eclectic mix of strong par-threes, long and demanding and then shortish and tricky par-fours, as well as par-fives that sometimes are reachable in two for long hitters and other times, not so much.

Tallwood Country Club
Hebron, CT
8th_Hole

Coventry’s Twin Hills Country Club ( www.TwinHillsCountryClub.com ) was built on a former farm and offers sweet-feeling rural golf, yet it is convenient to Hartford and other cities off Rt. 84. Twin Hills has a beautiful setting with the country charm of stone walls, a covered bridge and its signature stone bridge located on hole number three (a massive 600-yard par-five) that makes one think of the famous bridge crossing to the 12th green at Augusta National Golf Club.

Southington Country Club (www.SouthingtonCountryClub.com) is fairly wide open with a few delightfully quirky holes, such as the deceptively short 306-yard par-four second and the 120-yard par-three 12th. The course is well maintained and the new ownership has made improvements over the last couple of years to the course and the facilities. It’s a track approachable for golfers of all levels.

Hawk’s Landing Country Club (www.HawksLandingCC.com) in Southington used to be an “executive” course until it was lengthened and made into a par-70 layout. While not long, 5,825 yards from the tips, the course has a bunch of great par-threes and some interesting par-fours. The seventh and ninth holes both play around 230 yards, while the 18th is 190 yards from the back markers with the tee shot having to carry a pond. The 360-yard par-four fifth is a good test. It doglegs to the right and the drive and approach must steer clear of water.

One of the best-conditioned, player-friendly tracks in Connecticut is Rockledge Country Club ( www.GolfRockledge.com) in West Hartford. The relatively flat layout is routed in a parkland setting is playable for all golfers, challenging for the better ones, and offers a pleasing mix of holes. Indeed, Rockledge has a number of very good holes, ranging from short par-fours, like the 290-yard second and 317-yard 11th, where birdies await, to classic risk/reward par-fives.

Goodwin Park Golf Course (www.GoodwinParkGolfcourse.com) in Hartford offers 27 holes, with the shortish North Course (2,544 yards) a great place for beginners and senior players to hone their skills and enjoy a leisurely round. The more demanding 18-hole course plays around 6,000 yards from the back markers and features a number of par-fours that are drivable, or approachable, off the tee for long hitters. The 381-yard ninth hole may be the toughest par-four on the track.

Timberlin Golf Club (www.TimberlinGolf.com) in Berlin has long been known for its pleasant, park-like routing and playability for all levels of golfers. The course was given a facelift a few years back in the form of new bunker complexes, fairway and green complex work, an effort led by noted golf course architects Stephen Kay and Doug Smith. The course is kept in immaculate condition and the renovations added a few more teeth to this scenic track, originally designed by Al Zikorus.

Nestled into the rolling hills of the tiny town of Hebron is Blackledge Country Club (www.blackledgeCC.net), a 36-hole facility that boasts two fine courses. The club’s owners added nine holes in 1995 and an additional nine in 2000, creating what is called the Gilead Highlands course. The newest nine on Gilead Highlands is a bit reminiscent of Carolina courses, with wide fairways, bunkering, and tall pines and oaks framing many of the landing areas and large greens. Anderson’s Glen has the club’s original 18 holes and is another very solid test. The fairways are tree lined and the greens undulating.

Quarry Ridge Golf Club (www.QuarryRidge.com), located on the slopes of the Connecticut River valley in Portland, offers some of the best views in Connecticut. This is a true shot-maker’s delight, with dramatic elevation changes, an interesting mix of long and short holes, and tricky greens. The course is regularly listed among the best in Connecticut and conditions are always top-notch. The course plays just 6,369 yards from the back tees, but it’s all about proper club selection and accurate shot making at Quarry Ridge.

Portland Golf Course (www.PortlandgolfCourse.com), also in Portland, which measures just over 6,200 yards from the tips and plays to a par of 71, is also set in the rolling hills of the Connecticut River Valley. Its tree-lined fairways, various elevation changes, and doglegs make the track, scenic, challenging and enjoyable for players of all ages and levels.  The 405-yard par-four first hole is a strong way to begin a round. The tee shot is relatively easy, but the second shot is down a 60-foot drop to the green, which makes club selection difficult.

Portland West Golf Course (www.PortlandGolfWest.com) is an 18-hole “executive” par-60 course located in Portland. The course features a front and a back nine with six par-threes and three par-fours. The course is meticulously groomed and golfers claim the track has some of the best greens in the state, public or private. At Portland West, don’t leave your long irons or utility clubs at home, with par-threes over 200 yards you’ll need every stick in the bag.

Black Birch Golf Club (www.BlackBirchGolf.com) in Moodus has earned a reputation as one of Connecticut’s newest “hidden gems.” Ownership invested significant money in the last three years to improve the course, which has included increased turf quality, new tee boxes added on select holes, re-designed holes (holes 13 and 14 in particular), a new fleet of carts, and the installation of an updated irrigation system and pump house. Management and ownership has worked on improving tee boxes (leveling and expanding some), as well as working on other aspects of turf quality.

Elmridge Golf Club (www.ElmridgeGolf.com) in Pawcatuck features affordable golf and, its three nines are eminently playable for golfers of all abilities. The par-fours are on the short side, most measuring between 340 and 370 yards from the middle tees, but a number of them are dogleg designs. The par-threes are strengths of the layout and several measure close to or over 200 yards. One of the best par-fives on the course is the 525-yard (back tees) seventh on the Blue Course. The hole bends slightly to the right and a good drive will leave you with a shot to go for the green in two. But there are bunkers guarding the putting surface and the green is elevated.

The Golf Club at Windham (www.WindhamClub.com) first opened in 1922 and was maintained as a private facility until only a few years ago when it was opened to the public. The putting surfaces are medium in size with some undulation. They roll true and reward good approach shots with makeable birdie opportunities. The rough areas are kept at a height to punish wayward tee shots but still allow players to advance the ball to the greens with a good swing.

Blue Fox Run Golf Course (www.BlueFoxEnt.com) in Avon has 27 holes of golf. A new nine was added several years ago and these holes are a pleasing mix of those that are open in nature and several that are lined by trees. There is ample bunkering in the fairways and around the modest-sized greens. One of the best new holes is the 512-yard par-five fourth on the White Course. If you can steer clear of fairway bunkers to the left of the fairway and high grass on the right, you may be left with an opportunity to go for the large, oblong green in two.

Tower Ridge Country Club (www.TowerridgeCC.com) in Simsbury is one of the most unique layouts in the state, with a feel more like that of a northern New England track. The layout has several dramatic elevation changes as it winds up and down steep hills, with fabulous views and challenging shots. After a journey along the Farmington River valley for the first three holes, one of which is a 185-yard par-three across water, the remaining holes on the front side play up and then down a steep cliff.

Simsbury Farms Golf Course (www.SimsburyFarms.com), which measures 6,509 yards in length from the championship markers, was designed by renowned architect Geoffrey Cornish and opened for play in 1972. Recognized as one of the top 100 courses in New England by one New England publication, “The Farms” provides an excellent test of golf and a very visually pleasing round for players of all levels. A driving range and large practice green as well as a newly constructed clubhouse compliment the golfing complex.

Although private (accessible with Golfing Magazine’s Free Golf offer), Farmington Woods Golf Course (www.FarmingtonWoods.com) in Farmington is offering extremely affordable memberships. Desmond Muirhead, who also crafted the famed Jack Nicklaus Muirfield Village course in Ohio, designed Farmington Woods. The course is unique to the area in that each hole is challenging, stunning, and memorable. The track has woods and wetlands surrounding it that you must avoid.

Established in 1961 by local residents, private Hop Meadow Country Club (www.HMCountryClub.com) (accessible with Golfing Magazine’s Free Golf offer) in Simsbury is designed to be a superior facility in every way. Over the past several years, the membership committed to a comprehensive program of improvements. The centerpiece of Hop Meadow is, of course, the golf course, which is a real treat. There are a splendid mix of holes and Cornish used the terrain available to him to create some dramatic elevation changes, especially on the par-three ninth and 16th holes, which begin from elevated tees and finish at greens that are fronted by a pond (the ninth) and a small stream (the 16th).

Laurel View Country Club (www.LaurelViewCC.com) in Hamden is a classic Geoffrey Cornish track, the overall conditions of which have been enhanced mightily in recent years. The course continues to be a stern test of playing ability, can be stretched beyond 7,000 yards, and features some of the toughest par-fours in the state, like the 479-yard fifth. There’s a pond guarding the right side of the green, which often must be attacked with a long iron or fairway wood.

Chippanee Country Club (www.Chippanee.com) (accessible with Golfing Magazine’s Free Golf offer) in Bristol came under new ownership one year ago, and the positive changes at Chippanee have been remarkable. The golf course is back to its great condition thanks to an aggressive maintenance program, including sprinkler system updates, tree removal, reworking sand traps, and several new forward tees. Although the course plays to a par-70 from the blue tees (a modest 6,310 yards), Chippanee has small, challenging greens and tight narrow fairways. Water comes into play on the par-five fourth hole, the par-four 10th hole, and the par-three 11th hole.

Chippanee Country Club Bristol, CT 12th-tee
Chippanee Country Club
Bristol, CT
12th-tee

It is raining out and you are thinking it’s going to ruin your day of golf. Well, don’t fear. Mulligan’s at Eastwood Country Club (www.EastwoodCountryClub.com) in Torrington has just the remedy for the rainy day blues. A former banquet hall at the nine-hole club was turned into space for five golf simulators that allows patrons to play famous courses and get their swings in no matter what the weather. Mulligan’s opened last July and the reception has been solid, said owner and permitee of the adjacent pub, Kevin Ebner of Harwinton.There are tables and chairs set up outside the simulators where customers can enjoy refreshments and food if they so desire while they play. There is an outdoor patio.The atmosphere in the bar and dining area is decidedly sporty in nature, in keeping with its location and clientele. The restaurant has live music several nights of the week, which is another draw. There are daily and weekly specials. The price for the simulators is extremely reasonable. An hour costs $20 (during the summer) for as many people that want to hit balls in the booth. It’s $35 an hour during the wintertime. Mulligan’s hours are Sunday and Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday from 11 a.m. to midnight, and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m..

 

Thanks to Golfing Magazine’s fabulous “Free Golf” subscription offer you’ll get a complimentary round of golf on a number of courses in Connecticut. Check out the details of this awesome offer in this issue, call 860-563-1633, or visit www.FreeGolf.net to sign up. There is still a ton of time left to enjoy all the courses on our list.