Short but sweet—that’s the best way to describe golf season in Connecticut. But what the state lacks in warm weather months it makes up for with top-tier golf courses.
Golf courses rich in history (and often private) reside in this neck of the woods, like well-known Top 100 layouts such as Yale and Stanwich Club. But for a state that is the third smallest in the country, public-access golf is still plentiful.
The Bobby Weed designed TPC River Highlands annually plays host to the Travelers Championship and though only members can play where the pros play, there are numerous daily fee, municipal, and resort courses all within an hour’s drive of the Hartford area.
Here’s a look at five of the top public golf courses in Connecticut.
Keney Park Golf Course (Hartford)
History is the lifeblood of this city-owned municipal golf course. Originally designed in 1927 as a 9-hole layout by Devereux Emmet, who also built Congressional Country Club, Keney Park was later expanded to 18 holes by the city of Hartford in 1931.
The course, which features rolling hills and a “big course” feel, went through a massive renovation project in 2013 after the city of Hartford partnered with the Connecticut Section PGA and KNOX, Inc. The plan was to improve amenities within the city’s park system while refurbishing a classic golf course. The result is nothing short of stunning for a local muni. Following the completion of the $6 million dollar project, Keney Park has hosted the Connecticut PGA Championship, Hartford Women’s Open, and both the boys and girls National Junior PGA Championships. A big-time course with municipal pricing is a huge bonus as non-resident weekday rates are just $42. https://www.keneyparkgolfcourse.com/
Wintonbury Hills (Bloomfield)
Just 20 minutes outside of Hartford city limits, Wintonbury Hills was designed by Pete Dye in 2005 and is one of Connecticut’s best hidden gems. With the urging of his wife, Alice, Dye was commissioned for just $1 by the city of Bloomfield to build the course, his first ever championship layout in New England.
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The course is set over 80 acres of land and butts up against the Bloomfield Reservoir, which runs adjacent to the 14th hole. The 455-yard par four has trouble looming up the entire right side of the hole, requiring a precise tee shot and a daunting approach to a well-bunkered green complex. A fee of $55 will get you a weekday tee time as a non-resident with the option to walk—how Dye designed the golf course to be played. https://www.wintonburyhillsgolf.com/
Lake of Isles—North Course (North Stonington)
Many outside of New England may not realize that one of its finest resort-style golf courses is tucked away in a remote northeast corner of the Connecticut woods. Foxwoods Resort Casino has been a staple in these parts, known for its gaming and extravagant hotels, but a top-five golf course in the state is located just across the street from “The Wonder of it All.”
Lake of Isles is a 36-hole golf club with the North Course open to the public and resort guests. The Rees Jones design offers a variety of elevated tee shots, undulating greens, and an array of stunning par threes. None are more exciting than the 196-yard 2nd hole, which demands a downhill tee shot over lakes and wetlands to a green accessible only by bridge. Weekday fees are $123 with stay-and-play packages starting at $185. https://www.lakeofisles.com/Club/Scripts/Home/home.asp
Richter Park Golf Course (Danbury)
Located in western Connecticut along the New York state border, Richter Park is as good as municipal golf courses come. Owned by the City of Danbury, the Edward Ryder design was built in 1971 and is regarded as one of the top public courses in the tri-state area. Don’t let the no-frills clubhouse and driving range fool you; Richter Park is a legitimate test. Water is in play on 14 of the 18 holes with the par-three 5th forcing golfers to fly it 170 yards over a lake to a tricky green. Like most munis, the course will get busy during peak season, but the spring and fall seasons tend to slow down a bit. Non-residents will pay $69 with cart, a steal for a course of this caliber. https://richterpark.com/
Gillette Ridge Golf Club (Bloomfield)
Located just five miles from downtown Hartford, Gillette Ridge is annually considered one of the best overall golf courses in the Nutmeg State. Named after 19th century politician Francis Gillette, who’s original home still sits on the property, Gillette Ridge was designed by Arnold Palmer and has hosted pre-qualifiers for the Travelers Championship in nearby Cromwell.
The course tests golfers with water hazards on half of its holes along with forced carries over native wetlands. The three-hole finish is as strong as they come in the northeast, featuring a 612-yard par-five beast, a 187-yard par-three over a water hazard, and a 447-yard par-four dogleg closing hole. Weekday rounds run around $50 with the course offering discounted pricing to police, firefighters, and military along with juniors and seniors. https://gilletteridgegolf.com/
What is your favorite public golf course in Connecticut?