What makes a golf hole cool?
Well, it has to have, as they say, that “wow” factor. By that I mean it has to visually knock your golf shoes off your feet, which often means dramatic elevation changes and breath taking views. It should have some element of risk/reward and forces you to think your way to the flagstick. It should play differently day to day depending upon the weather conditions. And it should be approachable for the average golfer. A 625 par-five isn’t cool just because it is long. And while I’m on the subject of length, these holes are listed at their maximum yardages. We strongly encourage all golfers to play each hole from the tee box best suited to their ability. Each of the holes in our “Cool 18” offer several teeing options that still stand up as a great test.
So, here are 18 cool golf holes, both public and private, in Connecticut, all adding up to one very hip “fantasy” par-72, 18-hole golf course that would be one heck of a fun track to play if it really existed. How many of these holes have you played?
#1: The 18th at Fox Hopyard GC, East Haddam, Par-5, 551 yards
A par-five is a great way to begin a round and let you stretch the muscles a bit. This is a beauty, with the drive needing to stay clear of bunkers, and the second, or third, shot to a large green that is protected by a pond on the right.
#2: The 2nd at Bull’s Bridge GC, Kent, Par-4, 322 yards
Magical is the view from the tee, as the green sits some 70 feet below with a pond protecting the right side. Big hitters can drive the putting surface but it’s a risk.
#3: The 8th at Blue Fox Run Blue Course, Avon, Par-3, 175 yards
A great short hole that has, for all intents and purposes, an island green (a small strip of land connects the green to a cart path). A well-placed mid-iron will be needed to find the short grass. You may hit everything from a 9-iron to a 5-wood, the latter when the wind is howling in your face.
#4: The 9th at The Club at River Oaks, Sherman, Par-4, 435 yards
By the look from the tee box you could be playing golf in Vermont rather than Connecticut, as the hole offers a stunning view of the surrounding hills and countryside. The tee shot on this dogleg left has to find a smallish landing area between fairway bunkers, and the second shot is across a waste area. No room for nerves here.
#5: The 3rd at Gillette Ridge GC, Bloomfield, Par-4, 431 yards
Another dogleg left where precision is a must on the approach shot. You also need a good drive, as you will not want to come in with anything more than a mid-iron. The green is surrounded by water left and back.
#6: The 13th at Torrington CC, Goshen. Par-4, 319 yards
Again, a sumptuous view of the Litchfield County hills from an elevated tee and big hitters can drive the green. But woods lurk on the left side and the putting surface is ridiculously slopped.
#7: The 13th at Great River GC, Milford, Par-4, 435 yards
The approach shot has to clear a pond. But that comes only after you thread the needle and steer clear of the water on the right with your tee shot. A par here is a great score! That’s how tough, and good, this hole is.
#8: The 13th at The Stanwich Club, Greenwich, Par-3, 198
A gorgeous little par-three and this great course’s postcard hole. From the blue tees, it plays over a creek, then a lake, to a slightly-elevated L-shaped green built around a deep bunker across its left front. The putting surface is built up from the front, then falls away in its left-rear sector. Oh, those Stanwich greens are fassssttttt.
#9: The 10th at The Hartford GC, West Hartford, Par-5, 512 yards.
Not long but anything from eagle to snowman lives here. A stream dissects the fairway on the sharp dogleg right about 250 yards out, so you’ll need to lay up between two fairway bunkers. The green angles awkwardly around a left-front bunker and trees are all around on this hole.
#10: The 10th at Lyman Orchards GC (Jones Course), Par-4, 412 yards
The hole is literally all in front of you visually from an elevated tee box. The decision must be made: How much of the yardage can you cut off by going over a pond on the left side of the dogleg left? Man up and let it fly.
#11: The 17that Lake of Isles North Course (public), Stonington, Par-4, 384 yards
Visually stunning from the tee this “little” par-three can be a bear. Your tee shot is an easy carry over a pond and then the fun begins. There are sets of bunkers up the left side and woods on the right. A back left pin makes you think twice about forcing the issue.
#12: The 14th at Wintonbury Hills GC, Bloomfield, Par-4, 455 yards
The tee shot must steer clear of water to the right. You can bail out left but a steep hill deadens the ball and leaves you with a long-iron or fairway wood into a green that is protected by wetlands, woods, and bunkers. Whew!
#13: The 16th at Shennecossett GC, Groton, Par-4, 400 yards
The tee shot is over a marsh and the second is at a green that truly offers one of the coolest views of any in Connecticut, as the putting surfaces basically borders Long Island Sound. Every so often you’ll see a submarine coming or going to the naval base. How neat is that!
#14: The 17th at Shorehaven CC, Norwalk, Par-3, 155 yards
Location, location, location! A short downhill par-three with a well-bunkered, crowned green that is backed right up to the Long Island Sound. Club selection on any given day can go from pitching wedge to hybrid depending on the wind. This hole proves short par-threes can be awesome!
#15: The 11th at The Black Hall Club, Hamden, Par-5, 570 yards
A well-designed, fair, challenging par-five, it has fairway bunkers, water to the left of the hole, and lots of sand guarding the putting green. This is indeed a true three-shot par-five from one of the toughest courses in the state.
#16: 15th at TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, Par-4, 296 yards
Two factors put this hole on the list, where it falls on the golf course and the risk versus reward. Longer hitters may try to drive the green, but there is a pond to the left of the putting surface and chipping from the right side is no bargain. A wildly undulating green keeps three-putting in the equation.
#17: The 17th at Wethersfield CC, Par-3, 210 yards
The 17th at Wethersfield, former site of the Greater Hartford Open, is as sweet a short hole as you will find, with water front, bunkers left and right and a green that seemingly aches for a great shot.
#18: The 12th at Richter Park GC, Danbury, Par-5, 527 yards
One of the state’s signature holes, this par-five goes uphill, bends right and ends with a green that sits on a peninsula in a reservoir. The match is in the balance…do you feel lucky? Another superbly thought out design that is stunningly beautiful in autumn.