Private Courses Our Subscribers Can Play in 2019

The Club at River Oaks 9th Hole

Golfing Magazine New England has lined up some great private layouts that can be assessed in 2019 by those individuals who take part in our Course Play Stimulus Program.

Let’s take a look at these private courses that are part of our overall comprehensive list for 2018.

A premier addition to our lineup of private courses is The Golf Club at River Oaks, located on the Sherman/New Milford town line in western Connecticut.

River Oaks has a number of holes on its back nine that hug the Housatonic River, which is visible through the trees in late autumn or early spring. The look from the tee box on the par-four dogleg left ninth hole reminds one of playing golf in northern New England rather than Connecticut. Many consider this to be one of the top two or three courses in the state. PGA star Phil Mickelson was said to have called it a superb layout when he visited.

The Club at River Oaks

Robert McNeil designed the course that opened in 2003, and he built into it challenge and fairness. The fairways are rather generous on the par-fives and longer par-fours and tighter and strewn with fairway bunkers on several of the shorter par-fours. The greens are fairly large and kept on the fast side. The rough is manageable and the greenside bunkers challenging yet not unfair.

While the course is no push-over, it is eminently playable for any golfer, as long as you tee it up from the proper markers. The tips play 6,730 yards with a slope of 138 and a course rating of 73.8. The layout plays to a par of 71 and has five par-threes, which cut into the overall length, so don’t be fooled into thinking even the white markers, around 6,100 yards, are easy. They are not, even for the
better players.

The finishing holes at River Oaks are all very good, which adds to the
satisfaction of playing the course. A well-designed golf course should always reach a stirring climax and River Oaks does that. After a nice par-three in the woods at 15 there’s a short par-five (503 from the tips) that can be reached in two by the big hitters, and then comes the course’s signature hole in my estimation, the 210-yard par-three 17th that plays across a pond to a narrow green. It’s also a visually pleasing hole, one where you want to linger and drink in the beauty of the course and the task ahead of you. The 18th is solid, a double dogleg par-five that demands a lusty drive, a well-placed layup and a short iron into a large green that is protected by bunkers.

The Golf Club at River Oaks is definitely a must play.

Tumble Brook Country Club in Bloomfield, Ct. was named for a brook that flows through the property. It was incorporated and organized in October of 1922 and features 27 holes.

Willie Park, one of the foremost golf course architects of the time, was commissioned to design the first nine. A second nine, designed by Orrin E. Smith, was opened to play in the spring of 1949. The third nine, designed by George Fazio, opened for limited play in the fall of 1970, and was eventually integrated with the rest of the golf course in 1971.

Tumble Brook Country Club
Bloomfield, CT

In 2002 the club began a renovation program for the golf course. Mark McCumber and Associates was the architects for the renovations, and in 2005 the course work was completed.

The seventh hole on the “Green Course,” a combination of two of the three nines, is a 440-yard beast where par is an accomplishment for any level of player.

Farmington Woods Country Club in Farmington, Ct. was designed by renowned American designer Desmond Muirhead, who also crafted the famed Jack Nicklaus Muirfield Village course in Ohio.

Farmington Woods Country Club

The late Muirhead is remembered for his fully integrated course communities like McCormick Ranch in Scottsdale; the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills near Palm Springs, and his six-year partnership with Jack Nicklaus, which produced the aforementioned Muirfield Village.

The layout is unique to the Farmington River Valley area in that there are some dramatic elevation changes in what is usually a rather flat section of Connecticut. The course features ample woods that line many of the fairways and wetlands that, of course, must be cleared or avoided.

Hop Meadow Country Club in Simsbury, Ct. was designed by Geoffrey Cornish and the architect 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).

Hop Meadow Country Club
Simsbury CT
16th Hole

One of the best holes in the course is the finisher, a 521-yard par-five that has water hiding on the right side and a stream and water to the left and cutting into the right side about 30 yards out from the putting surface.

Cohasse Country Club is located less than two miles south from the center of Southbridge, Ma.

Cohasse Country Club Southbridge, MA

The track was designed by Donald Ross in 1916 and plays 3,061 yards with a par of 35. Known for outstanding conditions and greens that roll true, the course is challenging and at the same time fair and rewarding of good shots. The first hole is a tough, 410-yard par-four and the fifth is a great, short par-four that plays 327 yards and doglegs sharply to the left.

Suffield Country Club in Suffield, Ct. is an historic, finely manicured track that is set in a beautiful area. The routing was created by Ian Smyth and is a classic, traditional New England-style course that ambles over the rolling land, and plays only around 3,000 yards for nine holes.

Suffield Country Club Suffield, CT
Signature Hole

The short distance of the course is offset by tight fairways and small, fast undulating greens. Out-of-bounds borders holes three through six, heavy rough and tall oak trees off the fairways. Only two holes, three and seven, have fairway bunkers.

Holes five and eight do not have any greenside bunkers. No par-five is over 500 yards, and no par-four is over 400 yards. The club’s second hole has been rated as the fourth toughest par-three in the state. It can play as far back as 230 yards.

The course at Chippanee Country Club in Bristol Ct. plays to a par-70 from the blue tees (a modest 6,310 yards), but has small, challenging greens and tight narrow fairways.

Chippanee Country Club
Bristol CT

There are 33 sand traps throughout the course with water coming into play on the par-five fourth hole, the par-four 10th hole, and the par-three eleventh hole. The course is eminently fair and not overly tough, and a track that players of all abilities can approach without too much trouble, even higher handicap golfers.

To have access to these premier private courses, call 860-563-1633, or visit

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John Torsiello is Editor of Golfing Magazine New England and an Associate Editor for Golfing Magazine New Jersey-Eastern Pa. He lives in Torrington, Connecticut and part-time in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. John has written extensively about all aspects of the golf industry for a number of national and other regional publications. He has won over two dozen awards for his writing,