Great River Golf Club in Milford, Connecticut has developed a reputation as one of the top daily fee layouts in the Northeast.
But for general manager Gary Sciarrillo and his staff, running a first class club is more than having a fabulous golf course to offer patrons.
“In addition to having a top attraction, the golf course, it’s about creating a safe, clean and friendly environment,” said Sciarrillo, as he sat in the attractive dining room of a massive clubhouse that overlooks the Tommy Fazio creation. “It’s being thoughtful about our guests. For example, our rangers and beverage cart staff gives out ice cold towels and freezer-pops throughout the round on hot days.”
It’s also about being deeply involved in the community and forming a staff that understands the importance and meaning of guest service and giving back to the community.
“Being privately owned allows us the opportunity to host Great River sponsored charity events that would never happen at another club,” said Sciarrillo. “The Lenoci family, as owners, contribute their own money to these events. I couldn’t afford to do it otherwise.”
There are two great events in 2008. The first is the Imus Ranch Golf Outing, which will be held September 24. The event will raise money to support the Imus Ranch for Kids With Cancer. It’s going to be a blowout of a day with 18 holes of golf in scramble format, lots of celebs, tons of contests and prizes, great food and a banquet to top all golf outing banquets that evening.
The club has partnered with the Imus Ranch for the event as a means of educating the Connecticut and New York metropolitan area as to the goals and objectives of the Ranch.
“So many people, including members of our staff, are affected by cancer and other childhood diseases,” said Sciarrillo. “It’s great that the owners have allowed us to partner with Imus on this and we’re really looking forward to it.”
The tournament will have a Western theme in keeping with the setting of the Imus Ranch, an actual working cattle ranch. The food will be based on “The Imus Ranch: Cooking for Kids and Cowboys” cookbook written by Deirdre Imus with selections made fresh by Great River’s chef Dan Scinto.
Entry fee is $500 per player or $2,000 per foursome. There will be a unique gift bag that promises to be chocked full of stunning gifts. The event’s organizers are looking for sponsors, with various levels of commitment available.
Great River also partners with Connecticut Hospice on its annual fund-raising tournament through its Great River Golf Club Corporate Challenge. This year’s event will be held October 2nd and will feature a grand prize for the winning team of a 2008 corporate membership valued at $35,000. Last year, the event raised $14,000 for Connecticut Hospice.
The club also reaches out to the community and members through its highly successful golf camps for children.
“Tom Rosatti, our head pro, does a marvelous job with the juniors,” said Sciarrillo. “Hosting one of the largest junior programs in the state with over 300 students going through the program each year. From the Boys and Girls Club to the Charles Smith Foundation, Tommy and the staff contribute weeks of free instruction to promote golf to those who might not have the chance to participate.”
TaylorMade-adidas Golf has agreed this year to sponsor the club’s expansive practice facility and pro shop, allowing members and guests to test the latest technology offered by the equipment giant as well as purchase clubs at lower prices and buy the newest lines in adidas outerwear and golf shoes.
And Great River is not just golf. Chef Scinto of Monty’s River Grille continues to wow visitors with his wide array of dishes, and there few better venues to enjoy dinner after a round than in the restaurant or on the patio overlooking the first tee, 18th green and practice facility. New wines are frequently added to the restaurant’s wine list and many are available by the bottle and the glass.
Superintendent Sean Flynn has the course in splendid condition. He and his crew seem to be in constant motion to make the course more playable for all levels of golfers, as well as aesthetically pleasing.
Almost four acres of turf has been established during the last few years along tree lines where mulch once existed and hundreds of dead or dying trees have been removed. Bunkers have new sand and thousands of bulbs perennials, shrubs and annuals have been planted to enhance the visual experience of playing this truly special golf course.
The club has added a new fleet of golf cats with additional four-bag carts for those who like to walk.
Tommy Fazio, the nephew of noted golf course architect Tommy Fazio, routed the course over rolling terrain common to New England, with elevation changes, trees and water--everything that makes good course management essential. If you play the blue or white tees distance is not as important as accuracy and club selection. This is a course that will reward a thoughtful approach, and one must ere on the side of caution or big numbers lurk on most holes. The slope from the tips is around 150, which gives you an indication of the supreme challenge that waits. But then again, good things never come easy.
The par-four, 419-yard 3rd hole is a prime example a hole that simply must be respected. It’s not long, but your approach requires a shot over a valley that contains multiple bunkers leading to an elevated, sloping green. This is one of the most scenic holes on the course, but don’t let that disrupt your focus or you can easily select the wrong club and find yourself in Great River’s “Death Valley.”
The consensus among locals is that the hardest hole is the par-four, 440-yard 16th. It demands both distance and accuracy off the tee. The fairway has water on the right and a marsh on the left. Your second shot--a long-iron or fairway wood into the green--must avoid a massive tree to the right of the putting surface that Fazio decided to leave where he found it.
The 18th is a very good finishing hole. The 408-yard par-four doglegs to the right. There’s a marsh to the right to catch errant tee shots. The green slopes from back to front and the view of the clubhouse standing in the background caps off a most memorable round as you walk to the putting surface.
Visit www.greatrivergolfclub.com or call 877-478-7470.