Nicknamed the Constitution State (although also known as the Nutmeg State, the Provisions State and the Land of Steady Habits!), Connecticut is a New England territory in the north-east of the USA and borders New York and Massachusetts.
It takes its name from the Connecticut River which divides it into two almost equal parts. First settled by the Dutch and later by the English, it is a long-established financial services center that boasts the highest per capita income in the United States of America.
Geographically it is the third smallest state in the US, but still has the 29th highest number of people. Only three states are more densely populated.
Four delegates from Connecticut were among the first signatories of the American Declaration of Independence at the Second Continental Congress.
In 1775 the Battle of Bunker Hill saw some 1,200 Connecticut troops engage British regular forces.
The following year the first submarine attack in history was launched from within the state against a British warship that had been at anchor in New York Harbor.
In 1788 Connecticut became the fifth state to ratify the United States Constitution.
It prospered in the world of trade and commerce, and spawned a number of noted intellectuals such as the lexicographer Noah Webster, the originator of Webster’s Dictionary.
It is also of course the home of Yale University, sited in New Haven, which is the third oldest seat of higher education in the United States.
Connecticut’s Golfing Tradition
Connecticut is not always at the forefront of people’s minds when it comes to enjoying top level golf.
Only the Golf Course at Yale tends to make it onto the national Top 100 list as a general rule.
Nevertheless, there are some excellent venues providing attractive sporting options for those who are either domiciled within or who are visiting the state.
None of this is to say that the state of Connecticut does not boast its own proud golfing tradition.
It has been 128 long years since the Greenwich Country Club became the first to be established in the state with the first of the public golf courses in Connecticut, the Fenwick Golf Course, following shortly in its wake.
The early twentieth century saw the launch of the Connecticut Open tournament, which was won in both 1915 and 1916 by the Englishman Jim Barnes.
But it wasn’t until 1931 that the competition was revived, with the sanction of the Connecticut Golf Association.
Played over a full day between eighty competitors at the Yale Golf Course, it was won by the American Henry Ciuci.
And other than for its suspension for the duration of the Second World War, the competition has been played annually around the various top Connecticut golf courses.
10 of the Best Golf Courses in Connecticut
Connecticut may not be ranked among the very top golf courses in the world, or even in the United States, but there are still plenty of great venues with some great holes for serious golfers to explore.
Opinions vary as to which is the best among them, and even the various magazines, experts, and golfing authorities disagree among themselves. But the following are amongst the very most popular:
1. Yale Golf Course, New Haven
The only generally recognized top-100 course in the state, and roundly considered the best of the bunch.
It includes some legendary holes, the most popular of which probably being the downhill Biarritz 9th, but also notable are the 1st, 4th, 8th, 10th and 18th.
Built in 1926 by Seth Raynor in collaboration with Charles Blair Macdonald, the Scottish influence is a consistent feature of the course.
2. Country Club of Fairfield, Fairfield
Another Seth Raynor design, later modified by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and A.W. Tillinghast to create a links-style effect at this flat course.
Founded in 1914, it nevertheless presented such logistical problems that it was not formally opened for a full seven years thereafter.
Hall of Fame player Walter Hagan was in attendance on the day it was opened. Members only, and becoming one isn’t easy.
3. Tamarack Country Club, Greenwich
This time Raynor’s associate Charles Banks was the man with the plan.
In this instance the plan was a whole series of template holes paying homage to some of the most famous holes in the sport.
Opened in 1929, Golf Digest rates it as the fourth best golf course in the Connecticut rankings.
Besides the quality of play, the club majors on the spirit of camaraderie and friendship that it engenders.
4. Keney Park Golf Course, Windsor
Has a strong shout at being among the top public golf courses in the state.
The refurbished greens are among its stand-out features as well as some novel church pew bunkering.
It was built in 1927 and its first nine holes, just north of Hartford, were designed by Devereux Emmet.
An option for private membership is also available, as well as a grass-tee driving range and putting green.
5. Stanwich Club, Greenwich
With sloping greens and dense trees lining nearly every fairway it is little wonder that scores around the course are traditionally high.
A finely primed design by David and William Gordon with a dress code and cellphone etiquette to suit makes this a venue much favored by the monied Connecticut set.
The Tom Fazio group has introduced some redesigns over three phases during the last fifteen years.
6. Wee Burn Country Club, Darien
One of the much-loved private courses which takes its name from the small creek which runs throughout.
Sometimes overshadowed by more well-known courses in neighboring states, this 1896 club nevertheless boasts a fine and distinct tradition of its own and offers fine food, events, hospitality and athletic facilities to its many visitors.
7. Great River Golf Club, Milford
A high end country club which describes itself as “semi-private”, although is recognized as one of the best public access courses in the state.
Great River majors on its hospitality and the private and corporate events that it hosts such as weddings and bar mitzvahs.
But the course itself, designed by Fazio, with its perfect fairways and signature holes, is much sought after by golf enthusiasts too.
8. Brooklawn Country Club, Fairfield
Rated amongst the top five courses in Connecticut by Golf Magazine, Brooklawn is a center of sporting excellence with a fine history dating back to the nineteenth century.
It offers tennis, swimming and a proud social environment as well as being one of the most popular golfing venues in the state.
In 2020 it celebrated its 125th anniversary before hosting the US Senior Women’s Open the following year.
9. Rockledge Golf Club, West Hartford
A popular 18-hole public golf course which is renowned for its picturesque landscaping and its maintenance, Rockledge takes pride in the quality of the service that it provides to its visitors as well as its championship layout.
It offers affordable rates and booking tee times is as simple as following a link on the local website.
10. Lake of Isles, North Stonington
A relative newcomer to the scene, having opened in 2005, the layout by Rees Jones offers rolling hills, challenging terrain, island greens and all with scintillating views and scenery.
An all-inclusive fee takes care of the player’s needs, from a cart right down to bottles of water, and the experience is complimented by the presence of the adjacent Foxwoods Resort Casino.
A Great Place to Play Golf
Whoever said Connecticut was not up there with the best when it comes to great private and public courses has obviously never visited some of these venues, or indeed the many others which also provide a superb golfing experience for both professional and leisure players.
What makes them quite exceptional is the fusion of top quality sport with often quite wonderful scenic surrounds, and this is further enhanced by some of the best in hospitality.
It is true that some states can boast of playing host to some of the more high profile tournaments and competitions, but the appeal of New England should never be understated.
Naturally, deciding which of the state’s many golf courses and clubs to place at the top of the list is a hugely subjective exercise.
Some will prefer others, for all sorts of different reasons, and for many the appeal is in touring around and trying them all to see how they compare and contrast.
Thankfully there is absolutely no shortage.