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The Club at River Oaks 9th Hole

Golfing Magazine New England has lined up some great private layouts that can be assessed 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.

Set in the bucolic hills of Sherman, Connecticut is The Club at River Oaks, a private 18-hole course which opened in 2003. The challenging but fair layout plays to a par of 71 and has some of the most visually stunning holes that the state has to offer.

The Club at River Oaks

The course is not a “grip and rip” design. It is a track that requires a golfer to use all of the clubs in the bag and think one shot ahead. The opening hole would be a perfect example. A short dogleg right par-four greets your first swing of the day. Typically not a driver hole (except from the tips), the correct play would be to lay a long iron or utility wood down the left side of the fairway. From there, a mid-iron to the green allows the player to be putting for a birdie. Hit your tee shot long left or miss the green with your approach and  a bogey, or worse, will be your first number on the scorecard.

Hole six has always been one of my favorites. A long-iron or five-wood off of the tee leaves you with a wedge into a sloped, undulating green. A ravine will swallow up all golf balls that travel too far off line. For those feeling lucky, take out the driver and hit a cut shot around the large tree that sits on the right side of the fairway and go for the green. A perfect risk/reward hole!

The 9th is arguably one of the most visually appealing holes you’ll find anywhere in New England. A downhill dogleg left, bunkers await your tee shot at around 260 yards off of the box. A slight draw will leave you with a 7-or 8-iron into the green. Miss short or right and you put yourself in danger of putting a “number” on your card.

If you think the back nine is going to get easier for you, think again. You won’t find a better assortment of par-three-fours and fives in the northeast. For the long hitters, eagle/birdie opportunities await on 13 and 16. In our opinion the signature hole is the par-three 17th. Playing 185 from the tips, the player is required to carry the ball 150 yards over a large pond. Well placed bunkers to the right and back of the green will gobble up errant shots. Walking away with a three on your scorecard will bring a sigh of relief for most players.

The last hole is a double dogleg par-five. The best play is to hit a soft fade off of the left side tree line, leaving you with a long iron or wood as a layup for your approach. A short-iron into the ample sized green with leave you with another birdie opportunity to finish out your round.

A fully stocked pro shop, led by head pro Glenn Fanara, allows the player to purchase golf accessories and apparel prior to and after the round. Individual and on course lessons are available as well as video analysis and club fitting. Outings and events are welcome. Contact Glenn at glenn@clubriveroaks.com for more information.

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 www.FreeGolf.net.