|Laurel View Country Club in Hamden, CT
|By Tom Landers |
Laurel View Country Club - A Geoffrey Cornish Design
When Matt Menchetti took over the reigns as head professional at Hamden, Ct.'s Laurel View Country Club in 1996, he looked beyond the disheveled appearance of the layout and saw the course for what it truly was--an unpolished gem.
Laurel View, designed by Geoffrey Cornish and opened in 1970, had always won rave reviews for its routing, but had fallen into a state of disrepair over the years. For 30 years, the course was run by the town of Hamden, which did not have the resources, and perhaps the inclination, to keep the tract in pristine condition.
"The reviews on us were always, great layout, poor conditions," said Menchetti, owner of MDM Golf. He took over operations of the club in 2000 with a 20-year lease to manage Laurel View on a daily basis. "The town was spending about $12,0000 a year on course maintenance and we do that in a month. We are giving the course the kind of treatment a private course gets. Our goal is to make Laurel View one of the top 10 public courses in the state."
Menchetti--who also owns the On Course Construction Excavation Company--and his staff are already well on their way to bringing Laurel View a new luster. The condition of the tee boxes, fairways, bunkers and greens are dramatically improved, with work ongoing. In all, about $1.7 million will be invested into Laurel View to bring it to a place as one of Connecticut's true championship tracts.
The one-time five-person course maintenance staff has been tripled to 15 with Menchetti bringing in Greg Moore as head superintendent. The course's irrigation system was updated and an ambitious seeding and aerification program undertaken. The rest of the club's staff--from the restaurant employees to the starters and rangers, are downright friendly and helpful.
"I've got a great staff and we want to make sure people enjoy themselves here and want to come back," said Menchetti, who was an assistant pro at Clinton Country Club from 1991 to 1995 before coming to Laurel View. "One difference you have here with management is that I am always around making sure things are running smoothly." Among the most recent changes are the construction of a new forward tee box on the impressive par-3 seventh hole. The hole plays a brawny 248 yards from the tips, with the new forward tee marker allowing it to play as short as 150 yards for some players.
"It's all part of making the course more playable for all abilities," said Menchetti. Future work calls for a new fairway design for the par five 11th hole, a hole that comes under criticism for its severe slope from left to right, which results in many golfers hacking back to the fairway from a stand of trees below the present landing area. Also, a new tee box will be built on the par-three second hole that will allow it to be played from almost 200 yards.
Laurel View, which has hosted qualifiers for a number of professional and top amateur events, can be stretched to almost 7,000 yards with three other sets of tees. The front side is more open than the hilly back nine. Number five is as much of a par-four as anyone would want. It plays 479 yards from the tips, with a pond guarding the right side of the green. Number nine is another monstrous par four at 450 yards, with an elevated green making it play 20 or 30 yards longer. The best hole on the back side may be the 490-yard par five 14th, which plays downhill off the tee. Big hitters can take it in with two well-struck shots. But there's a pond guarding the front of the green and bunkers all around the putting surface.
You can't beat the prices at Laurel View, $44 for 18 and a cart on weekends and $38 on weekdays. "This is becoming a golfer's golf course," said Menchetti with obvious pride. www.laurelviewcc.com