Golfing Magazine’s Golf Course Stimulus program has some superb private courses you can play if you join. We have around 130 courses this year in our program, all with no greens fees. To take advantage of this tremendous offer, call 860-563-1633, or visit www.FreeGolf.net.
Let’s take a look at the private courses that are part of our list for 2023.
A premier addition to our lineup 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.
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
The finishing holes at River Oaks are all very good, which adds to the satisfaction of playing the course.
The ninth hole features that stunning view of the hills in the distance and is as visually pleasing and challenging a hole as you can want. The drive is to an area well below the tee box and the second shot is across a natural area. Push you drive to far right and you are left with a 180-yard or more approach into a narrow green.
A well-designed golf course should always reach a stirring climax and River Oaks fills the bill. After a nice par-three in the woods at 15, there’s a downhill par-five (503 yards from the tips) that can be reached in two by the big hitters. And then comes the course’s signature hole, the 210-yard par-three 17th that plays across a pond to a narrow green. It’s another great look from an elevated tee.
Farmington Woods Golf Club is a real treat, it is a well-maintained, interesting and challenging track that was designed by renowned American golf course designer, Desmond Muirhead, who also crafted the famed Jack Nicklaus Muirfield Village course in Ohio. It is unique to the area in that each hole is challenging, stunning, and memorable. The course is located in a gated condominium community, with ample woods and wetlands surrounding.
One of the best one-two punched on the routing is the par-five 12th that is a dogleg right and tumbles down a steep hill to the putting surface. The 13th is a sweet little par-three that plays across a pond with trees framing the green.
Farmington Woods is a welcoming, active and diverse club and has long been known to be women-friendly (allowing women tee times on weekends equal to men), and its backbone is a variety of strong leagues.
The club is family-oriented due to its emphasis on introductory programs, and other facilities available for its members, including a full-service restaurant, and a pub and banquet facilities, as well as seven tennis courts and four pools located around the community. A wide range of events and activities are available to residents and members.
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. The Park nine is by far the most popular of the three nines at Tumble Brook. Due to its walkable layout and rewarding par-fives, the nine holes are the busiest at Tumble Brook. The original nine opened in 1924 and consisted of current holes 1 through 3, 8, 9, 19, 20, 26 and 27
A second nine, designed by Orrin E. Smith, was opened to play in the spring of 1949. The holes were based off Park’s original layout for the course, although Smith followed very little of Park’s design. Smith was a construction supervisor for Park and Donald Ross. The Smith holes form one of the more challenging nines due to its length (between 100 and 200 yards longer, based on which tee you play, from the two other nines).
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. Fazio created holes that in the present day are 4 though 7 and 21 through 25 to combine with the original front nine, now holes 1 through 3, 8, 9, 19, 20, 26, and 27. This addition to the course was not blended into Park’s original design, as Fazio characterized his course with flashes of sand in the bunkers and green sites well protected and often requiring the ball to carry onto the green. The Fazio nine is the shortest of the three but it provides plenty of challenge with the most complex greens of the 27 holes.
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.
To have access to these premier private courses, call 860-563-1633, or visit