Conditions at one of Connecticut’s top daily fees tracks, Gillette Ridge Golf Club, just keep getting better and better.
“I think we are in the best shape we have ever been in.” said head professional Tony Roberto. “Tim Haines and his staff have done a super job getting the tees, fairways and greens in a great shape and play has been steady.”
He added, “We haven’t really added anything new. We’re just maintaining what we have and making it better.”
Roberto welcomes golfers any time of the day and week. The club has a “twilight” special, offering 18 holes, cart and range balls for $40 Mondays through Thursdays and $50 Fridays through Sundays.
“The time of twilight will change throughout the fall,” said Roberto. “Right now it is 4 p.m., but it will stay three hours before sunset.”
Built on the rolling terrain and mature woods of Cigna Corporation property, Gillette Ridge, an Arnold Palmer Signature routing, poses a stiff and aesthetically pleasing test of golf.
“What we offer to our customers is a country club experience for a day,” said Chuck Grodovich, the club’s general manager. “We have valet service and a person to meet you, who will carry your clubs in, clean them and have you ready to start your round.”
Gillette Ridge is a truly magnificent course, one that has a feel of permanence and purpose. Palmer and his staff created a track that fits nicely into the existing natural landscape. Great care was taken to preserve the numerous trees that serve to frame fairways and greens, as well as the ample wetlands on the property.
The architects built a number of peninsula or island greens, using granite from the site to build walls near several greens and tee boxes. There are some forced carries at Gillette Ridge, both off the tee and on approach shots to the medium size, undulating putting surfaces, but nothing so daunting to scare away the average player. Bunkers are fairly numerous and ponds or wetlands come into play on almost half the holes. The fairway landing areas are ample.
This is a true championship layout, a real golfer’s golf course, so to speak. Some shots into the large greens seem intimidating, but there is always bailout area on one side or long. Just don’t be short.
There are four sets of tees at Gillette Ridge, making the course play anywhere from 7,191 yards at the tips to 5,582 from the forward markers. The course has been given a slope of 135 and a rating of slightly over 74 from the back markers.
Better not get lulled into a reverie by the natural beauty and magnificent sculpting of the holes here, many of which are self-contained. There are plenty of good golf shots that need to be played
The second hole is the course’s signature. The tee box affords a view of the Heublein Tower in the distance, and the 505-yard, par-five winds down to a peninsula green. This is a true risk-reward hole as a long drive will leave the player with an opportunity to go for the green in two. But a pond guards the right side of the putting surface and long is bad news. Even a layup must be struck with accuracy to a sliver of fairway with bunkers long and the water right.
The 182-yard 11th hole is a lovely par-three that calls for a shot across a small pond to a green framed by large trees to the rear of the putting surface.
The designers had a field day with the 187-yard, par-three eighth hole, which can be played from eight distances. The back tees will call for a 205-yard shot, almost all over wetlands.
The 17th hole, a monstrous 577-yard dogleg par-five, will offer a close up view of the Isamu Noguchi Sculptures at Cigna. The large stone sculptures present an intriguing sight to the right of the fairway.
The 18th hole at Gillette Ridge may be the best finishing hole in the state. It’s 478 yards from the tips, and the tee shot must be strong. The approach will be made to a narrow green protected by a large pond to the right and long and deep bunkers.
Gillette Ridge also has a large practice area, a fully stocked pro shop, a great restaurant and lounge. The bar and lounge offer super views of the finishing hole and pond. For further information on Gillette Ridge Golf Club, call 860-726-1430 or visit www.gilletteridgegolf.com.