Hitting Connecticut's Eastern Golf & Wine Trail
GolfTrip Destination: Connecticut
By Katharine Dyson
If you harbor a passion for both golf and wine, look to Connecticut to deliver the ultimate high. After golf, wine and food, you'll have a wide choice of accommodations ranging from cozy bed & breakfasts and inns to spa hotels and high roller casino resorts.
Lake of Isles: North Course
Rising out of the green-clad landscape in northeastern Connecticut, Foxwoods Resort & Casino, the largest casino in the world, has three hotels, spa, shopping, restaurants, entertainment options and two stunning Lake of Isles golf courses.
Whereas South is private, built as a real estate amenity, the stunning North is open to the public.
Owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and managed by Troon Golf, golfers enjoy expansive views of the river and Connecticut River Valley..
Designed by Rees Jones (2005) the courses are built around a 90-acre lake and climb up and down the rocky Connecticut terrain and through 900 acres of woods. This is one course you'd do well to turn around and look back from time-to-time. It is that striking with great raw stone faces, verdant fairways sliding uphill and plunging downward, and many white sand bunkers.
Find huge carries over deep ravines and wide fairways narrowing to immaculate greens, tees perched high on rock ledges, and sprawling sculptured bunkers:
There is a handsome stone and timber 50,000 sq. ft. clubhouse, a state of the art indoor and outdoor practice facility and the Hank Haney Golf Academy
7,252 - 4,937 yards
76.6/146 - 68.9/127
Green fees: $125 - $199 including cart
1 Clubhouse Drive
North Stonington, CT 06359
Shennecossett Golf Course
The 9-hole town-owned Shennecossett Golf Course in Groton is the closest thing you'll come to a Scottish links track in this part of the world. This classic Donald Ross is one of the most important and historic courses in the state.
It starts out fairly benign but before you even reach the stunning newer holes (#15, #16 and #17) running along the Thames estuary, you are hooked. Ross who had a penchant for bunkers, hasn't forgotten a one here.
The venue for many tournaments over the years, it has hosted the Connecticut Senior Open and many PGA events.
Shennecossett is a subtle course lying close to the land. What it lacks in drama it more than makes up for in character. And a bonus: if you look to the river, you might just catch the U.S.S. Eagle or a nuclear submarine sliding through the waterways.
6,562 - 5,571 yards
71.7/124 - 72.4/122
Green Fees: $25 to $37 ($20 winter); cart $13 per person
93 Plant Street
Groton, CT 06340-5927
Elmridge Golf Course
Rolling gently over the hilltop landscape, the three nines that make up, Elmridge Golf Club in Pawcatuck, a pretty parkland-style course, are designed, built and operated by the Rustici family.
This is an easily walkable layout, enhanced by flowers, gardens and views of the distant hills. Most the greens are rollup, many protected by bunkers with water challenges on several holes.
The Red South, Blue North and White West courses offer a mix of routings with the longest, the White/Blue at 6,614 yards. Some of the best views are on the Red course like on hole #4 which reveals lovely vistas of distant hills straight ahead while hole #5 requires that you hit over a reed-lined waste bunker to a green protected by bunkers on either side.
For the first few holes, White, the longest course, follows the western border before turning the corner and winding back up towards the clubhouse. When hole #5 plays into the wind, it can be killers.
There is the Par 84 restaurant, bar, covered deck, and pro shop. Elmridge is close to Foxwoods, Mystic Seaport and the beaches.
Red South/White West; 6,347 yards; par 71; slope 115/rating 70.8; White West/Blue North 6,614 yards; par 72; slope 121/rating 72.3; Blue North/Red South; 6,275 yards; par 71; slope 117/rating 70.5
Green fees: $52 - $59 inc. cart; $35- $42 walking.
229 Elmridge Road
Fox Hopyard Golf Club
From tee off to finish the young and feisty Fox Hopyard Golf Club in East Haddam designed by the Roger Rulewich group, carves determinedly through tall stands of trees, over hills, meadows and wetlands.
Elevated tees, old stone walls and deep wide swales create drama yet the scenery and generous bail-out areas eliminate post-traumatic stress disorder. The front nine is hillier more scenic than the back nine. Facilities include a handsome shingled clubhouse, pro shop and a large driving range.
From the luxurious clubhouse perched atop a 30-foot rock ledge, you are poised to enjoy the beauty and golf experience at "The Fox."
New is Fox's 2,252 yard Short Course where kids 13 and under play free after 5 when playing with parents with holes. It plays 77 to 185 yards.
6,912 - 5,111 yards
74.1/136 - 70.9/127
Green fees: $50- $89; carts $21 per person;
1 Hopyard Rd.
East Haddam, CT 06423
800-943-1903; 800-943-1903, 860-434-6644
Skungamaug River Golf Club, Coventry: What Skungamaug lacks in length, it makes up in tricky, tight holes lined by thick stands of trees and close encounters with water. It's a country course in every sense of the word from the style of the clubhouse, a converted barn, to the English pub look-alike.
The Norwich Golf Club built in 1931, is a classic track featuring elevated greens and tees and lovely vistas of rolling hills.
Eastern Connecticut Wine Trail
After golf hit the Wine Trail stopping at the Jonathan Edwards Winery in North Stonington. Housed in a former dairy farm, the winery combines locally grown and premium grapes from their Napa vineyards to "handcraft" their wines in an ultra modern facility.
Sit on the stone terrace and sip their superb 2009 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 Estate Connecticut Chardonnay, and 2008 Estate Connecticut Cabernet Franc along with other wines accompanied with breads and cheeses.
74 Chester Maine Road,
North Stonington, CT 06359;
Just off Rt. 95 in Clinton, from a lofty lodge-style room and a deck looking over the vineyards and a pond, Chamard Vineyards produces handcrafted award-winning wines, including Estate Reserve Wines and older vintages. Bring lunch to pair with wine by the glass on the deck orpicnic by the pond. Wine Tastings are $10.00 and include the glass, Wines by the Glass are $6.00-$8.00 while tours are complimentary.
115 Cow Hill Road
Clinton, CT 06413
Other area vineyards producing good wines include
Stonington Vineyards, Stonington Vineyards, Stonington: 860-535-1222 StoningtonVineyards.com;
Priam Vineyards, Colchester: 860-267-8520;
Sharpe Hill Vineyard, Pomfret: 860-974-3549;
Maugle Sierra Vineyards, Ledyard: 860) 464-2987; mauglesierravineyards.com
Saltwater Farm Vineyard, Stonington: 860-415-9072; saltwaterfarmvineyard.com
Taylor Brooke Winery, Woodstock: 860- 974-1263; taylorbrookewinery.com.
Also check the Connecticut Wine Trail: ctwine.com
Foxwoods Resort & Casino has four hotels: MGM Grand Hotel, Grand Pequot Tower, Two Trees Inn and Great Cedar Hotel plus the Villas at Foxwood.
Mohegan Sun has three world-class casinos and 1,200 rooms in their 34-tower hotel.
Stay at the 285-room Mystic Marriott Hotel and besides room service, pool, and Starbucks, there's the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa. It's called guiltless golf for those traveling with a non-golfer.
The Spa at Norwich Inn, a 103-room spa retreat with gardens, pools, bar and restaurant overlooking the Norwich Golf Course. Sure more women check in here, but it's also great for couples.
The Inn at Stonington in Stonington on the harbor, is a classy upscale boutique inn with sophistication, not frou frou. Many rooms overlook the water while the historic downtown in just out the door. The Inn at Stonington located on Stonington, harbor with 12 classy rooms.
860.535.2000 ; innatstonington.com
Bed & Breakfast
Couples looking for a cozy B&B just 10 minutes from Lake of Isles, can spend the night at the circa 1740 Inn at Lower Farm B&B in North Stonington. It has six working fireplaces, wide board floors, four guest rooms with private baths and wonderful home cooked breakfasts.
At the nine-room Inn at Harbor Hill Marina, a B&B on the Niantic River, your balcony looks out over an array expensive yachts and flying gulls. From the time you bite into your first homemade cookie, innkeepers Sue and Dave Labrie, will make you feel at home. Rooms come with mini kitchens and fireplaces.
Hungry? The 18th century Captain Daniel Packer Inne on the Mystic River serves hearty fare in cozy rooms with beamed ceilings, fireplaces, and wide board floors. 860-536-3555; danielpacker.com
Go where the locals eat and drink in Noank at the Seahorse Tavern, your old classic hole-in-the-wall with a great chef (860-536-1670) or try Noah's in Stonington, a find for foodies (860-535-3925).
For pizza, it's Mystic Pizza (Yes, the place Julia Roberts made famous. 860-536-3700).
Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos have several places to eat and drink and the Lake of Isles clubhouse invites you to sit on the patio overlooking the golf course. At Mohegan Sun, celebrity chefs include Bobby Flay's Bar American and Todd English's Tuscany.
Hartford's Bradley International Airport (bradleyairport.com) is the closest major airport.
Best time to go
For best weather; late spring, early fall and summer are the best. For value try late fall and early spring.
Spectacular scenery combining, rugged hills and seashore. Here you can stay in one place and easily drive to area golf courses.
Courses aren't open year-round.
Article Tags: Connecticut golf
Revised: 02/01/2011 - Article Viewed 25,866 Times
About: Katharine Dyson
Katharine Dyson is a freelance golf and travel writer, author, and columnist for several national & international publications and websites as well as guidebook author and blogger. Realizing that a golf and travel writer is the most underpaid, over privileged profession on the planet, she embraces the life style traveling all over the world to play golf and check out resorts. She is a member of the Golf Writers Association of American, Golf Travel Writers of America, the Society of American Travel Writers, and Metropolitan Golf Writers Association.