When Arnold Palmer’s architectural firm set out to design the 18-hole course at Gillette Ridge Golf Club, it incorporated a long, wooded layout that would showcase the 19th-century politician and reformer Francis Gillette’s original homestead. Today, the course continues to showcase its beautifully crafted layout that has maintained the elegance of a bygone era while opting to share its charming characteristics with the public. Gillette Ridge welcomes all golfers to take on the blistering 7,191-yard tract that integrates groves of mature trees, placid water hazards, and white-sand bunkers that surround contoured greens.
Much of the course's difficulty comes from its length, as demonstrated on the par 5 seventh and 12th holes, which stretch 612 yards and 607 yards from the tips, respectively. Both holes make it nearly impossible to reach the green in two, though for different reasons: the seventh green prevents run-ups with a front side stream, whereas the 12th hole has an early dogleg right that demands more conservative tee shots and golf carts that are pro-environment. The course's premium on distance continues right through the finishing hole, a par 4, 478-yard straightaway that splits two fairway bunkers and forces players to carry the green's front side pond on their approach shot or hope that a friendly frog will lend a lily pad for safe passage. Three practice putting greens, two practice bunkers, and an all-grass driving range provide ample space for golfers to stretch their swings before rounds.
After rounds, players can unwind in Gillette Ridge’s 6,000-square-foot clubhouse, where the course restaurant serves up sandwiches such as the philly cheesesteak and chicken-salad sliders, and starters such as Maryland crab cakes and quesadillas—the late Mrs. Gillette’s specialty that has carried on since the 19th century.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par 72 course
Total length of 7,191 yards from the back tees
Course rating of 74.8 from the back tees
Course slope of 135 from the back tees
Four sets of tees per hole
Blue Fox Run boasts a stunning 27-hole championship golf course in the Farmington Valley. Use this Groupon to schedule a full-day outing with friends: your 18-hole game allows you to practice your drives, perfect your putts, and conquer your fear of the bogeyman ($35 on weekdays, $45 on weekends). Stroll the green on foot or rent a cart for $15. Ironless chippers can rent a full set of clubs for $25.
Snuggled up against Talcott Mountain and the Heublein Tower, Tower Ridge Country Club opened as a private facility in 1959. Today, members and the public share the 18-hole, par 70 course while attempting to conquer its 6,400 yards' worth of challenges. Water comes into play on five different holes, including at the third, which dares golfers to skirt around a pond and place shots just below the pin. Stress accrued from such sticky situations on the course can quickly be snuffed out, however, thanks to Tower Ridge's roster of amenities.