basketball star and NBA veteran Donny Marshall, along with partners Chuck and
Joe Grodovich, finalized plans to take over ownership of the former Willimantic
Country Club and bring the facility into a new era.
when I heard that Willimantic Country Club was being sold, I went to Donny and
we talked about the concept of bringing affordable golf and a new dining
experience to the Windham area,” said Chuck Grodovich, a veteran of the golf
business who has served as general manager at several Hartford area clubs.
avid golfer, loved the idea and the pair approached the University of
Connecticut about the possibility of linking the school’s golf interests with
the North Windham-Willimantic facility.
“We met with
the Board of Directors of WCC and they liked the idea,” said Chuck Grodovich.
“Then we made a presentation to the members who owned Willimantic C.C. and they
also approved of the idea.”
currently has 180 members. Hopes are to build that number to around 240 or so
next year and make the club a haven for present UConn students, faculty,
athletes, coaches and officials as well as alumni. The club will remain
semi-private and have tee times available to the general public. Individuals will
not have to be UCONN alumni or affiliated with the school to purchase a
membership and golfers can play the rest of the 2009 season free if they join
now for the 2010 season.
of Connecticut golf team has already committed to play its home matches and
practice at The University Club and a number of UConn coaches, staff, and
former players have been frequenting the charming course.
and the Grodovich brothers are extremely pleased with the renovation work to
the existing clubhouse. The course conditions have become excellent with the
addition of skilled course superintendent John Labrie, formerly of Gillette
Ridge Golf Club in Bloomfield, Ct., and his talented staff.
longtime members our overall course conditions, especially the greens, are the
best they have ever been,” said Chuck Grodovich. “We’ve completely renovated
the interior and exterior of the clubhouse, parking lot and curb appeal.”
“Rounds are up because of the peaked interest in Donny’s involvement in the
club and the positive changes being made. It’s exciting, on any given day you
might see Donny, Coach Calhoun, Ray Allen, Kevin Ollie, Travis Knight, or other UCONN greats playing here.”
The club’s food
and beverage operations will remain open 12 months of the year and is an ideal
place to hold events and parties, with seating up to 175. The Charter Tavern
and Oak Room restaurant provides a comfortable atmosphere to enjoy with friends
after a round and enjoy a cold beverage and a bite to eat from the grill, while
watching your favorite sports.
says that plans are to bring in a PGA Tour player and a course architect to
lengthen the layout by adding pro tee boxes to six or seven of the holes.
The club first
opened in 1922 and was maintained as a private facility until only a few years
ago when it was opened to the public. Thus, the conditions are very good for a
daily fee facility and well worth the modest greens fees. The putting surfaces
are medium in size with some undulation. They roll true and reward good
approach shots with makeable birdie opportunities. The rough areas are kept at
a height to somewhat penalize wayward tee shots but still allow you to advance
the ball to the greens with a good swing.
The course demands
precision off the tee, as mature trees line many of the holes. There is a
pleasing mix of holes, ranging from short to long par-fours, reachable
par-fives and demanding par-threes, the latter perhaps the strength of the
Examples of the
shifting demands the course places on your game are the first two holes. Number
one is a 376-yard par-four that plays uphill from the fairway landing area to a
green protected by bunkers. The second is a really nice, 287-yard par-four that
offers several options off the tee. Big hitters can try and reach the putting
surface, but the wise play is a long ironto set up a wedge into a green protected by high-faced bunkers left and
The third and
fourth holes are tough par-fours, measuring 418 and 416 yards respectively.
Maybe the best par-five on the course in the 484-yard sixth hole. A long drive
to the right side of the fairway on this dogleg left will allow the player to
go for the green in two.
The seventh is
a solid par-three, playing 191 yards, with the tee shot through a chute of
trees to a slightly elevated green guarded by bunkers and woods to the left.
The back nine
is a really fun routing. There’s the 120-yard par-three 10th, the 292-yard
par-four 12th that has pond guarding the front of the green, which makes going
for the putting surface with a driver much to risky, and the monstrous,
433-yard 14th, where par feels like a birdie.
The 17th hole
is another long par-four, measuring 430 yards from the tips. The back nine ends
in quite dramatic fashion, with a stunning 220-yard par-three that plays
downhill. The day we played the track the wind was in our face and I selected a
driver, fortunately finding the putting surface. Again, par here feels like a
This is a gem
worth the visit. You never know who you might run into on the practice putting
green, the first tee or in the clubhouse.
The public is
invited to check out the course, renovations, daily fee rates and membership
packages on the club's website at www.uclubct.com.