Orange Hills Country Club in Orange, CT. doesn’t get the attention higher profile daily fee layouts in southern New England demand.
But many golfers in Connecticut will tell you Orange Hills is one of the toughest and best-conditioned public courses around. The track received four stars from Golf Digest recently and general manager Judy Smith says that’s no accident.
“Some people tell us that this is the best maintained course in Connecticut. We have been family owned and operated for 60 years and we pride ourselves on the condition of the course, which we feel is top notch every day.”
Orange Hills is also a stringent test of playing ability. The course has hosted several top tournaments and recently served as a qualifying spot for the Connecticut Senior Amateur. The course record, set by Steve Gettings in 2000, is a 68, only three strokes lower than the course’s par.
The 6,409 track may be on the short side, but it has plenty of bite. The front nine is rather flat, while the back side owns up to the course’s name, with a number of elevated tees and greens and rolling fairways that test a player’s shot making and club selection. The greens, if slicked up, can be brutal.
The course debuted in 1927 as Rolling Ridge Country Club, a nine-hole layout. The club’s name changed to its present moniker when it was sold in 1930, and during the next few years the clubhouse was improved upon and grass replaced sand greens.
Walter E. Smith became the club’s sole owner in 1949 when he took over from his father, Walter H. Smith, and the younger Smith, at 84, continues his involvement today. The course was expanded to 18 holes in 1961 (Geoffrey Cornish served as architect) and a new clubhouse was built atop a hill that provides views of the surrounding countryside and Long Island Sound.
“We are constantly making course improvements, whether it be drainage work, cart path modifications or green, tee and bunker renovations,” says golf courser superintendent Jud Smith.
The course is a pleasingly eclectic mix of holes, from long par-fours and par-threes, to short four pars and par-fives that are reachable in two for big hitters.
The 464-yard fourth hole is a beast of a par-four that tests the skills of even the best players, while the 134-yard par-three ninth hole can be attacked with relish.
One of the best holes on the course is the daunting 215-yard 10th hole, which plays dramatically downhill to a medium sized green that is surrounded by sand traps, trees and a pond to the right rear of the putting surface.
The course concludes with a nice par-five. It measures just 472 yards from the tips and has a green that is within reach in two after strong tee shot, which will put a nice cap on a challenging and enjoyable round.
Rates are extremely reasonable, $38 walking for 18 holes, $22 for nine during the weekdays, $48 and $26 respectively weekends and holidays. The club is offering twilight rates on weekends after 3 p.m. when the fee is $38 for walking 18 and $22 for nine. Senior and junior rates are $17 for nine holes and $29 or 18 holes on Mondays and Tuesdays. Golf cart rentals are available.
Orange Hills Country Club