|Pete Dye Weaves His Magic at CT's Wintonbury Hills Golf Club
|By John Torsiello |
Connecticut , Northeast
Wintonbury Hills Golf Club in Bloomfield, CT
Open not even a year, Wintonbury Hills Golf Club in Bloomfield is earning a national reputation as top tier layout.
The course debuted in September of last year, and the town of Bloomfield, which owns the club and course, and Billy Casper Golf, which manages the property, are ready for a busy first full year of operation.
The layout is the initial Pete Dye design in New England. The course does not fit most golfers' mental image of a traditional municipal course. While there are some superb town-owned courses in the state--such as Danbury's Richter Park and Groton's Shennecossett--the term "municipal" has developed somewhat of a negative connotation in recent years. But Wintonbury offers the very best in public golf at reasonable prices. It's playable for golfers of all abilities, is in superb condition, wonderfully routed and visually stimulating. Of course, we would expect nothing less from a master such as Dye, who has built some of the most notable courses in the country over the past two decades.
Wintonbury Hills has won rave reviews from a number of publications, including a top ranking among Connecticut public courses by Golfweek, and the second best new course in America by Celebrated Living, the in-flight magazine of American Airlines.
"Since opening last fall the response from rating organizations, media and the golfing public has been tremendous," said Bloomfield Town Manager Lou Chapman. "We're absolutely thrilled by this honor and look forward to a remarkable 2004 season."
Considering the terrible growing conditions of the past two summers, the course was in surprisingly good shape when it had its "soft opening" last fall. Grow-in superintendent Greg Dubois and his staff did yeomen's work to get the course ready under sometimes trying conditions. Dye's layout is delightful mix of open--or what has come to be called "links-style" holes--and those that work their way through mature woods. There are some elevation changes, which only add to the pleasing visual effect of the layout. There are over 100 bunkers scattered throughout the tract, most of them small pot bunkers sitting on or near small mounds, a Dye signature.
Dye has incorporated chipping areas into his green designs, and gives the player bailout room on one side or the other on every hole. There's also room to run the ball up and onto the green. The putting surfaces, which will be hand mown, are medium in size and somewhat undulating. There are four sets of tees, and the course is relatively short from the tips, only 6,650 yards. It plays to a par of 70. There are a few forced carries, but nothing so difficult as to seriously intimidate the mid-handicapper. "People enjoy this golf course," said Doug Juhasz, director of golf at Wintonbury, as he took a visitor on a tour of the layout. "It's in great condition and each hole is unique."
Indeed. There are no two holes alike at Wintonbury. The course starts out rather innocently with several open holes before it winds uphill for a trip into the woods. The real bite of the course is on the back side, where there awaits several spectacular par-fours. The par-threes here are also a strength, and range from the short 165-yard third to the 200-yard seventh that has wetlands in play on the left side.
You will be hard-pressed to find better back-to-back par-fours than 14 and 15. The 14th is a 440-yarder that calls for a steady drive to a landing area guarded by steep mounds to the left and wetlands to the right. The approach shot will likely be made with a mid or long iron with the wetlands still in play to the right and trouble long.
The 14th is almost as good. It plays 430-yards from the tips and has danger both left and right in the form of woods and bunkers.
The most scenic and fun hole is the short 340-yard par-four fifth. It starts from an elevated tee and gives long hitters the impression they can reach the green in one.
For further information about Wintonbury Hills
, call 1-860-242-1401