The Housatonic River not only gives the Great River Golf Club its name, but also its identity. The course runs hard by the winding river, offering not only a number of challenging holes, but also a view for golfers unmatched in much of Connecticut. Tommy Fazio knew he had a special piece of land when he took on the design challenge and he used the natural formation of the riverbanks to offer up a course design that makes the game a pleasure for all levels of golfers.
The course located in Milford, CT is celebrating its 10th anniversary this summer and the golfing public gets to share in the celebration. The semi-private course has garnered several high rankings from numerous publications because it offers a complete golf experience. The round starts at the spacious Pro Shop which offers a fine selection of clothing, footwear as well as equipment and golf accessories. After your round, Monty’s Grill – an award winning restaurant – just happens to be mere steps away from the 18th green. Whether you settle bets over a round of drinks or enjoy the fine selection of dinners from the ever-changing menu, there is no better way to wrap up a fine round of golf.
Tommy Fazio, the nephew of noted golf course architect Tom Fazio, routed the course over rolling terrain common to New England, with elevation changes, trees and water--everything that makes good course management essential. If you play the blue or white tees distance is not as important as accuracy and club selection. This is a course that will reward a thoughtful approach, and one must err on the side of caution or big numbers lurk on most holes. The slope from the tips is around 150, which gives you an indication of the supreme challenge that waits. But then again, good things never come easy.
Six holes are naturally cut out of the land that sits along the banks of the river and the winds that are generated by the meandering tributary make you think and then maybe think one more time before striking your ball. The front nine holes of the course weave through wooded terrain offering holes that feature elevation and uniquely shaped greens that demand accuracy when making your approach. The enjoyment of taking on a true test of golf is enhanced by the
numerous aesthetic touches throughout the layout. Seven wooden bridges dot the course including one that takes you across the deep ravine that guards the third hole. A demanding drive is immediately followed by what may be the most difficult approach on the course. If the sheer length of the shot doesn’t test you, the numerous bunkers guarding the green just might.
The challenge of steering clear of the woods gives way to a link style design when you make the turn. This side of the course offers unforgettable beauty in the form of a 30-foot waterfall that sits behind the very deep 11th green, making the 200-plus yard par 3 a true mental test. That hole is immediately followed by a par 5 that can humble even the biggest hitters. After a long draw around the tree lined fairway, an elevated green sits high atop a hill. Once you decide to hit a second shot to set up your layup position, the hole doesn’t get any easier. The severe uphill approach means taking at least a club and half and perhaps two more to get up to a green that is difficult to hold. A five on this hole means you can march to the next tee with your head held high.
The consensus among locals is that the hardest hole is the par-four, 440-yard 16th. It demands both distance and accuracy off the tee. The fairway has water on the right and a marsh on the left. Your second shot, a long-iron or fairway wood into the green, must avoid a massive tree to the right of the putting surface that Fazio decided to leave where he found it.
Twelve of the 18 holes feature a water challenge, including the six along the Housatonic River. The undulating greens demand your putter be on its best behavior so take advantage of the numerous practice putting greens before you hit the first hole. If your game needs more work, 21-year PGA veteran Tom Rosati is there to help. The 2009 CT Section PGA Teacher of the Year offers cutting edge technology in his Golf Academy. Computerized digital swing analysis, launch monitors and a 12-acre practice facility including three bunkers make taking lessons a pleasure.
Fortunately, there is not only beverage service on the course, but a heartily stocked snack bar will get you recharged at the turn. For a more complete dining experience, see what Chef Daniel Scinto has come up with as he heads into his 7th year at Monty’s River Grille. His experience is culled from many years in Europe including working in some of the finest restaurants in Italy, Switzerland and Monte Carlo.
Mark your calendars for some of Monty’s Special events this summer as the Club celebrates ten years of the best golf and dining that Connecticut has to offer.
“As part of the 10th anniversary celebration, Great River will feature
specials event on the 10th of every month,” said General Manager Gary Sciarrillo.
“For example, July 9th marks an evening of Burritos from the outdoor grille on the expansive patio that overlooks the golf course and all golfers are celebrated on August 10th with golf gifts given away all day and each paid 18-hole round comes with a free 10th anniversary logo hat.”
In addition to those events, Sciarrillo added that there are a number of
charity events that the club will host this year
including the Imus Ranch Charity Golf Classic with a live broadcast of Don Imus’ national radio show on September 22nd.