GolfTrip Destination: Connecticut
Connecticut clubs with more than 18 offer flexibility and accessibility
By Katharine Dyson
On David Letterman's list of the "Top Ten Reasons Why Golf is Better than Sex" you'll find reason #4: "Three times a day is possible." So you've got to figure, when you can play different courses in the same location, you have really scored. That's what you get when you tee it up at places like Lyman Orchards or Tunxis Plantation or any other club where having just 18 holes is not enough.
Having more than one 18 hole course, helps a club bring in outside events while at the same time keeping the facility open for others. There are other benefits too. Several golf clubs in Connecticut offer 27 or more holes.
At Blackledge Country Club, a semi-private club in the greater Harford area, Bill Anderson, owner, says, "Having another course allows us to keep a course open for our members while at the same time we can use the other course for group events, a source of good revenue for us. We do more than 120 outings a year."
The following golf clubs not only have more than 18 holes, they also offer great deals on green fees typically from $35 to $55, often including a cart.
Top Tracks with more than 18 Holes
Blackledge Country Club
Growing like Topsy, Blackledge Country Club's first nine designed by Geoffrey Cornish opened in 1963; another nine soon followed. Then in 2000 the18 hole Gilead Highlands designed by Mark Mungeam of Cornish, Silva and Mungeam debuted.
Today Blackledge is a full scale operation with a pro shop, 6,000 square ft. restaurant, grill room, and sports bar. "The two courses give us a lot of flexibility," says Anderson who notes they can handle large events up to 200 people.
Both Blackledge courses feature well-placed bunkers and undulating greens. Anderson Glen is more open, more forgiving though there is water on six holes along with changing elevations, slippery greens, blind holes and some dog legs. Many greens slope back to front and on #3, a par 4, 439-yard hole, water threatens twice and hole #16, a 217 yard par 3, three bunkers ring the green.
Gilead Highlands, the longer of the courses at 6,537 yards, starts out with a bang, a par 4 dog leg right, 435 yard hole. Number 7, the #1 handicap hole, a 493 yard, par 4, gets interesting when overhanging trees threaten on your approach. For sure, even if the course has a big outing going on, you will still be able to play and with green fees from $37 (walking) to $58 (riding), it's a good deal. blackledgecc.com
Elmridge Golf Course
The original nine at Elmridge Golf Course in Pawcatuck opened in 1966 while the second two nines followed. Tom Jones, club pro, says, "When you are juggling tee times, especially with large groups, you can try to pull all kinds of rabbits out of a hat, but the extra nine makes life so much easier."
Rolling gently over the hilltop landscape, this pretty parkland-style course, is designed, built and operated by Joseph Rustici and his son, Alan. Characterized by rollup greens, water challenges come into play 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.
The longest, nine, the White course at 3,343 yards, opened in 1967. For the first few holes, White follows the western border before turning the corner and winding back up towards the clubhouse. White #5, a part 5, 591-yard hole, playing along I-95 often into the wind, can be a killer.
There is a nice clubhouse with the handsome Par 84 restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, bar, covered deck, pro shop. Green fees: $35-$42 (walking); $52-$59 (riding). elmridgegolf.com
Fairchild Wheeler Golf Club
Farther south in toney Fairfield County, with creeks, winding through the landscape, stands of mature trees lining the fairways and the attractive topography, Fairchild Wheeler Golf Club has been welcoming golfers since 1934 when the "Wheel's" layout was designed by Robert White of St. Andrews, Scotland.
The club's two 18 hole courses, Black and Red, feature Bermuda grass greens while fairways which follow the undulations of the Connecticut landscape range from hilly to flat.
Owned and run by the City of Bridgeport, over the years the courses have seen some ups and downs in conditioning but after renovations, are in good shape today. Be sure to catch the views of the Sound from hole #10 on the Black course, a par 4, 417 yard beauty. fairchildwheelergolf.com
Goodwin Golf Course
In the Hartford area, one of the best deals around is the historic 18-hole Goodwin Golf Course and the adjacent nine-hole North course, an executive track. Designed by Everett Pyle in 1910 and operated by the American Golf Corporation, the Goodwin Course is fairly flat, easy to walk and considered a very good learning course as there are not a lot of trees nor a whole lot of bunkers.
Still it has water on three holes, some elevated greens and tees and nice views of the hills. The North nine is particularly popular with new golfers. You can start out on the flat North where there are no bunkers or out-of-bounds and work up to the Goodwin 18 as your game grows. Americangolf.com
Lyman Orchards Golf Club
The two 18-hole courses in Middlefield offer two very different name-brand 18-hole tracks which make up the Lyman Orchards Golf Club. Managed by the Billy Casper group, you have a choice of the Robert Trent Jones Course and the Gary Player Signature Course. Both courses are long, the RTJ at 7,011 yards and the Player at 6,660 yards.
The older, more traditional RTJ layout is user-friendly, to golfers of all levels and is especially attractive to grip it and rip it players providing broad fairways and generous landing areas. The RTJ course rolls with the land with well-placed bunkers coming into play when they should.
The Gary Player Signature course which opened in 1994, is more dramatic, modern, with mounding, forced carries, several doglegs and blind holes. Just when you think you have hit the perfect shot, in an eye-blink, your joy can turn to dismay as you watch your ball hit the side of a birm, funnel down across the fairway and dribble into the rough on the other side. Think target golf. Forgiveness is not its strong point like on hole #15 where the green is surrounded by water on three sides. Using a cart here is mandatory and necessary: the distance between tees can be a healthy jaunt. Lymangolf.com
Stanley Golf Course
Like Elmridge, the three nines holes at Stanley Golf Course, a public facility in New Britain, wear patriotic names: Red, White and Blue. In 2005, the course routing was changed from three stand-along 9s to the Red /White 18 hole course and the 9 hole Blue course. Both courses are basically flat with some rolling terrain.
Stray balls can drift into the trees which line the fairways of both courses and on the White/Red, some tees are elevated and three ponds, water comes into play on a handful of holes. Six holes on Red are carved through a valley so you are driving from elevated tees down into the valley and hitting you next shot up to an elevated green.
The Blue course is a good choice for higher handicappers as there is little water to deal with and few bunkers. Hole #9, a par 5 at 470 yards, has been shortened to make it more user-friendly. There is an on-course Teaching Academy and for after game dining, try Whinstone Tavern an attractive stone and wood restaurant and pub. Stanleygolf.com
Tunxis Plantation Country Club
Mature trees punctuate the fairly flat fairways at Tunxis Plantation Country Club in Farmington which has two 18s, the Green and the White and one nine-hole course, the Red.
With 45 holes, Tunxis Plantation is currently the state's largest golf facility. Providing a pleasant round of golf without a whole lot of drama, the fairways are well maintained and putts run true on largely, blemish-free bent-grass greens. Three ponds and the Farmington River provide interest on many holes.
Designed by Al Zikorus, the White golf course opened in 1962 while the Red Course, originally part of the Green Course, now stands alone. In 1994 Zikorus designed a new nine to add to one of the existing courses, morphing the two nines into the new Green Course.
Water threatens on the Green on several holes while the White is characterized by tight fairways with fast, large greens making this a target shooters layout. White is more challenging with trickier holes like #12, a par 4, 375-yard test where you'll need to hit two good shots to score, driving to a narrow landing area then flirting with water to a thin island green. But Green when playing from the tips is no slouch with par 3s averaging 200 yards and two less par 5s.
Functions are held in the large outdoor pavilion, Table Green and their indoor facility Tavern on the Green. Tunxisgolf.com
Connecticut has a huge array of places to stay from motels and hotels to B&Bs.
Hartford's Bradley International Airport (bradleyairport.com) is located in the north central part of the state.
Best time to go
For best weather; late spring, early fall and summer are the best. For value try late fall and early spring.
Several golf facilities have good restaurants on site including Tunxis Plantation, Elmridge CC and the Grille Room at Lyman Orchards.
With greens fees mostly under $50, the price is right.
Revised: 05/16/2011 - Article Viewed 22,919 Times
Written By: 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.