Tom Tremblay is a high-school English teacher in Connecticut. His extensive travels throughout the state and thoughtful written reviews over the years have earned him the “Connecticut Golf Advisor” tag via his username ‘AptlyLinked’. He was kind enough to submit an article on his favorite courses in the state. If you would like to get involved in our growing community of golf course reviewers, click here to get started.
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Golf has always been my favorite sport. My passion has exceeded the bounds of a casual hobby.
After beginning the game at age 10, my aspirations led to competitive play at both high school and college levels, including the Columbia University golf team. I’ve been a member, since then, of six public-access golf clubs, and won the 1998 club championship at one of them.
Five years ago, while planning a golf trip with my son to Pennsylvania, I discovered GolfPass and found it a helpful resource. If good, concrete details and vital insights into course quality were apparent in GolfPass reviews, then often I would play those layouts.
As an adventurous golfer, I’ve played golf in 26 states from Maine to Hawaii. I’ve been lucky enough to play several of the top links courses in Scotland, England and Ireland, but it’s Connecticut, my home state now for more than 55 years, where I’ve just about seen it all. I’ve played roughly 90% of the state’s public courses.
I focus my own reviews on aspects such as setting, balance, originality, strategic qualities, aesthetics and conditioning. When assessing quality, I think of a course’s shot and hole variety, of its level of challenge, and of its ground movement – both on the fairways and around green complexes.
Course reviews should be logical, not mainly intuitive; evidence-based, not surface-level. A good review moves beyond a bland summary, e.g. “Interesting, wooded layout with well-groomed fairways and a nice mix of long and short holes. Very scenic and reasonably priced.” These well-meaning generalities lack deeper evidence or the kinds of specifics that point to why a serious golfer might consider a visit.
What makes Connecticut’s golf courses special
Many Connecticut golf courses sit on repurposed, rural farmland, where the terrain rolls beautifully and often unpredictably. There are also great landforms everywhere: hills and uplands, ridges and glens and rippling coastal flatland, allowing for courses strong up and downhill movement and fairways that range from gentle to surging.
Likewise enhancing the challenge are elevated green complexes, which are frequently set in distinctive ways. Some Connecticut courses thread through forestland, others through more open parkland, but common to both types are majestic trees, along with the glimmering ponds, lakes and reservoirs that punctuate many a golf hole.
Connecticut courses are known, too, for their design quality and playability. Architects and influencers of major championship courses have produced layouts here, including Donald Ross, Seth Raynor, Pete Dye, Mark Mungeam, Tom Fazio and Robert Trent Jones, Sr. But it’s notable that other architects – particularly Geoffrey Cornish and Albert Zikorus – have designed numerous tracks across the state that enjoy good and often high repute.
Is the Nutmeg State, then, underrated as a golf destination? In a GolfPass article from 2021, on the 10 Best Big Cities in the U.S. to Live in for Golf, the top selection was Hartford.
Here are the top 10 Connecticut courses I’ve played, which stand with the best I have run across anywhere.