It’s always a nice feather to put in your golf cap when your course is selected to host a prestigious tournament.
That’s the way the owners and operators of Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Middlefield, Ct. felt when their “Jones Course” was selected by the Connecticut Section of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America to host the 79th Connecticut PGA Championship, August 23-25 of this year.
Lyman Orchards Golf Club is the first privately-owned, public course and second public course ever to host the champions. The 54-hole stroke-play tournament – with the largest purse of any tournament for PGA professionals in the section – will draw a field of around 100, with a cut held before the final round.
“We’re proud the Connecticut Section PGA chose Lyman Orchards,” says Steve Ciskowski, President and CEO of Lyman Farms, Inc. “The investment of time and capital by the Lyman family to enhance the Jones course re-establishes it as a championship-caliber layout worthy of high profile events.”
“Staging our Section Championship at Lyman Orchards is in sync with increased awareness of public access golf nowadays,” says Ralph Salito, President of the Connecticut Section PGA and Head Golf Professional at Richter Park Golf Course in Danbury. “During the three tournament rounds, many of the best golfers from Connecticut and Western Massachusetts will be ‘wowed’ and challenged by the re-vamped Jones course.”
Lyman Orchards is managed by Bills Casper Golf , a widely respected, full-service owner/operator of golf courses. BCG manages more than 110 properties in 26 states and outside the U.S. The company provides turnkey club operations for public-agency and private owners, developers and investors. Founded more than 20 years ago in cooperation with golf legend Billy Casper, BCG is based in Vienna, Va.
The Robert Trent Jones, Sr. layout at Lyman Orchards Golf Club last year debuted a $2 million upgrade and renovation that was led by noted architect Mark Mungeam.
Mungeam is the man who put his talents to the reworking of fabled Olympia Fields Country Club’s North Course and the design of the Golf Club at Oxford Greens in Oxford, Ct., among other courses.
The work at Lyman Orchards involved replacing an irrigation system, renovating all existing bunkers, adding new bunkers, improving drainage on a number of holes and creating sightlines to make a round more aesthetically pleasing.
The Jones Course, opened in 1969, has hosted numerous qualifiers for what is now The Traveler’s Championship PGA Tour event. It measures over 7,000 yards from the tips.
Last year’s Connecticut PGA Champion, Fran Marrello, head professional at Canaan Country Club in Canaan, Ct. and a 2009 inductee into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame, said he is excited to defend his title at Lyman Orchards. Marrello, who also won the championship in 2001, will play in the title for the 21st time.
“I first played Lyman Orchards as a youngster and the facility left an indelible impression,” he says.
Presenting sponsors for the championship include Cleveland Golf, E-Z-GO, Mohegan Sun and Srixon. Supporting sponsors are BCG and Pepsi-Cola.
Lyman Orchards also boasts a Gary Player-designed course, a par-71, 6,725-yard layout. The “Player Course” is sprinkled with deciduous trees and white pines. The routing takes players through apple orchards and features ample elevation changes. On holes 11 and 13 especially, golfers are treated to 360-degree views of southern Connecticut’s picturesque landscape.
Other Billy Casper-managed courses in Connecticut are Wintonbury Hills Golf Course in Bloomfield and the Golf Club at Oxford Greens in Oxford.
Wintonbury Hills was designed by Pete Dye, a master golf course architect who designed Whistling Straits Golf Club, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort, Harbour Town at Sea Pines Plantation, Oak Tree Golf Club, the Stadium Course at PGA West, the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass, and Crooked Stick Golf Club.
In Wintonbury, Dye created a course that is challenging for the best players, yet enjoyable for all skill levels. His routing, a pleasant mix of what is commonly referred as "links style" and more traditional woodland holes is always interesting. Slight elevation changes enhance the pleasing visual effect of the layout, which plays to a par of 70 and measures 6,650 yards from the tips. The views of the surrounding hills are stunning.
Dye placed over 100 bunkers, both fairway and greenside, in his design. Like the putting surfaces, the grass around the bunkers is hand mown, a nice touch that adds luster to the overall appearance of the course. Fairway bunkers frame the ample fairways, presenting a clear target for the player on the tee box.
Also in evidence are chipping areas around the undulating greens, another Dye trademark, as he is keen on short game ability. There is also room to run the ball up and into the green, as well as bailout areas on each hole.
Designed by Mark Mungeam of Cornish, Silver and Mungeam, Inc. Oxford Greens is a throwback, “neo-classical” routing that attempts to recreate the natural feel of a New England layout laid out at the turn of the 20th Century.
The course was carved out of more than 600 acres of woodlands and passes along a rolling topography. Mature elm, birch, maple and pine trees line the fairways, and meadows, old stonewalls and ponds impart a feeling of serenity.
Mungeam was careful to not overwhelm the player with an undue amount of hazards. There are some 70 bunkers scattered about the course. But they serve to frame holes off the tee and guard one side or the other of the large greens. Bailout room, both off the tee and around the greens, is provided.
Mungeam also incorporated a large degree of risk-reward into Oxford Greens. A second play of the track will allow the golfer to think his or her way around the course, avoiding hazards that need not be flirted with to score par or even birdie. But the player is often tempted to risk a heroic shot.
For more information about Lyman Orchards or to book a tee time, visit www.lymangolf.com
or call 860-349-6031.
For information about Billy Casper Golf / Buffalo Communications, visit www.billycaspergolf.com
, or call 703-761-1444.
For further information about Wintonbury Hills Golf Course, visit www.wintonburyhillsgolf.com
or call 860-242-1401.
For further information about the Golf Club at Oxford Greens, visit www.oxfordgreens.com
, or call 203-888-1600.