great 18-hole public, municipal and resort courses get most of the attention, there are a number of solid nine-hole tracks that deserve our recognition. These little gems make it easy to fit a quick round into a busy schedule, as well as offer enough of a challenge and aesthetic beauty to entice us back.
Let’s take a look at a few of the state’s top public nine-hole golf courses. Minnechaug Golf Course, Glastonbury
This is a well-kept, funky layout that was once part of an 18-hole course built originally in 1950. Nine holes were chopped up for housing, thankfully leaving nine solid holes.
Some claim that the par-three eighth hole was the first island green in the nation. It’s only a short iron onto the putting surface, but with water all around and sand traps you’d better be accurate.
The fairways here are kept in superb condition and the small greens are undulated, which make them difficult to read.
Minnechaug measures only 2,797 yards from the tips and it has a slope of 111, but you can find trouble on some of the narrow fairways. The Pomperaug Golf Course, Southbury
This was once part of the private Heritage Village Country Club, but was broken away several years ago to make a nine-hole “resort” tract.
The course has water that comes into play on seven holes. Despite its relatively short overall length (2,750 yards), the wet stuff that lines most fairways and guards several greens can cause big trouble.
Perhaps the best hole on the course is the ninth, a medium length par four that demands a well struck tee shot followed by a solid approach that must clear a stream running in front of the green. The conditions here are always good and the course is very walkable. Stonybrook Golf Course, Litchfield
The fact that this nine-holer was given a slope of 124 despite having a total distance of under 3,000 yards tells you something about its challenges.
The course ambles up and down several severe slopes and most fairways offer uneven lies. There’s water on five holes and plenty of sand traps around each green.
The prettiest hole is the 360-yard, par-four sixth that affords a view of the entire course. The toughest may be the relatively short par-four eighth. The tee shot is played short of a stream with a second shot hit to a dramatically sloped green that has a huge sand trap guarding its front, ready to gobble up short shots. The Red Course at Tunxis Plantation Country Club, Farmington
Tunxis has two solid 18-hole courses, but some prefer the Red nine for its woodland routing and scenic beauty.
With a slope of 123, the 3,297-yard Red has a number of superb holes, some of which were part of the original 18-hole course at Tunxis. Like the 390-yard par-four seventh that calls for a tee shot over water. The eighth, a 200-plus-yard par-three, is a strong short hole.
The conditions, as on both of the facility’s 18-hole layouts, are always good and the greens fairly free of undulation. Chanticlair Golf Club, Colchester
Here’s a real hidden delight tucked away in the quiet hills of southeast Connecticut.
The fairways are generous and the course plays 2,922 yards from the tips with a slope of 117. This course also features an island green, the 138-yard par-three fourth.
The conditions are very good and the layout plays a bit longer than its yardage because of several doglegs and elevated putting surfaces. The large greens are kept on the fast side, so a good short game is necessary. Woodhaven Country Club, Bethany
Woodhaven is a classic Albert Zikorus design that was built in the late 1960’s. It’s one of the tougher nine-holers in the state, measuring 3,387 yards from the back tees and plays to a slope of 128 with a traditional par of 36.
The routing is through mature woodlands with the fairways lined by large trees that can play havoc with even slightly errant tee shots. There is water on several holes and numerous bunkers. The greens, which are fairly large, are kept rolling fast. Hotchkiss School Golf Course, Lakeville
If you like old-fashioned golf courses you’ll live the Hotchkiss School Golf Course located in the scenic northwest corner of the state.
The course is on the grounds of The Hotchkiss School, which sends many of its students on to some of the best colleges and universities in the country. But golfers come here for the grand nine-holer that was built in 1911.
Hotchkiss offers the feel of a links layout on several holes, and there are numerous undulations in the fairways, which makes club selection tricky.
The best hole is a short, but monstrously difficult par-five. Measuring under 500 yards, the ninth hole demands a tee shot be hit to a landing area bordered by a pond to the left and woods to the right. The layup must be to another small landing area on a hill that leads up to the green, followed by a short iron approach to the elevated putting surface. If you go slightly left, just drop another ball down.
Hotchkiss measures slightly over 3,000 yards and was given a slope of only 111. But ask the locals and they will tell you this is a tougher course than it looks, especially when the wind blows.