|Gillette Ridge Golf Club in Connecticut, An Arnold Palmer Masterpiece
|By Tom Landers |
A Magical Round of Golf Awaits You at the Arnold Palmer Signature Gillette Ridge Golf Club
The curtain rises this summer on Connecticut's most anticipated new public course, Gillette Ridge Golf Club in Bloomfield.
Built on the rolling terrain and mature woods of CIGNA Corporation property, Gillette Ridge, an Arnold Palmer Signature routing, will pose one of the stiffest and most aesthetically pleasing tests of golf to be found anywhere in New England.
"What we want to offer to our customers is a country club experience for a day," said Chuck Grodovich, the friendly director of golf at the new club. "We’ll 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."
A tour of Gillette Ridge unveiled a truly magnificently routed course, one that has a feel of permanence and purpose. Palmer and his staff created a course that fits nicely into the existing natural landscape. Great care was taken to preserve the tall maples, oak and elm trees that serve to frame fairways and greens, as well as the ample wetlands of 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 a number of forced carries at Gillette Ridge, both off the tee and on approach shots to the medium size, undulating putting surfaces. 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," said Grodovich enthusiastically. "It's a real golfer's golf course. The shots into the greens seem intimidating, but there is always bailout area on one side or long. Just don't be short," he added with a smile.
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.
From the first tee box, the holes at Gillette Ridge unfold like a golfing paradise. Better not get lulled into a reverie by the natural beauty and magnificent sculpting of the holes, many of which are self-contained. There are plenty of good golf shots that need to be played.
The second hole may be the course's signature hole, said Grodovich. 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: a long drive will leave the player with an opportunity to go for the green. But a pond guards the right side of the putting surface and long is bad news. Even the layup shot must be struck with supreme accuracy, as it will be to a sliver of fairway with bunkers long and the water right.
The 182-yard fourth 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 lusty. The approach will be made to a narrow green protected by a large pond to the right and bunkers.
Gillette Ridge will also feature a large practice area, a fully stocked pro shop, a restaurant and lounge. The bar and lounge offer stunning views of the finishing hole and pond, while large maple trees grace a patio.