Rolling hills, towering pine trees, and burbling streams convene on Shaker Farms Country Club's 18-hole course as it gently rises and falls across 6,285 yards of bucolic terrain. Golfers must be mindful of a tranquil creek that runs in a wishbone pattern throughout the course, as its rippling waters—which come into play on eight holes—are often camouflaged by grassy banks and waterfowl that snack on errant golf balls. The distinct farmland layout conjures a sense of rustic antiquity, a characteristic furthered by the presence of a dilapidated farmhouse on the par 4 second hole. Clubbers hoping to gain control over runaway swings can warm up at the driving range or tap their spikes together three times to summon seasoned ace Keith Ornelas, who roams the club's verdant hillsides on a never-ending quest to vanquish mulligans once and for all. Alongside its verdant golf course, Shaker Farms boasts tennis courts and a versatile array of dining options.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par-72 course
Length of 6,285 yards from the farthest tees
Course rating of 69.4 from the farthest tees
Slope rating of 119 from the farthest tees
Four tee options
Link to scorecard
Since it first appeared more than a century ago, The Blandford Club has billed itself as a social beehive for its golf- and tennis-loving members in the Connecticut River Valley. The nine-hole golf course is a model of low-stress golf. Not only are the fairways wide and the greens friendly, but players don't need to schedule a tee time before showing up for a round, even if they aren't impersonating the president. Further, the fifth hole ends back at the clubhouse, so golfers are free to cut their rounds short if they're running low on daylight or only have a couple hours to spare. The user-friendliness extends to the tennis courts as well, where the Har-Tru court surface produces a reliable bounce while taking it easy on the knees.
The Ranch Golf Club's skilled architect, Damian Pascuzzo, challenges club swingers with 340 acres of rolling bentgrass, woodlands, and water hazards that earned the course 2010 honors as a GolfWorld Top 50 Public Course. Forty acres of undulating fairways carpet formidable holes starting with the first pin, which tempts drives down a narrow fairway amid the unintelligible secrets of whispering willows. Prior to tee time, players can brush up their short game skills on two fast-rolling practice greens, or swing wildly at six target greens that pepper a 300-yard driving range. Decked out carts, featuring club washers and drive distance measurements, direct players along pathways with a ProLink GPS system that offers approach advice and eliminates the need to ask a skittish deer to caddy the next hole.
With decades of experience in jazz, tap, lyrical, and hip-hop dance to go with teaching certifications from Dance Masters of America, the instructors at All-Stars Dance Center help students glide and stomp through classes in a variety of styles. They work with students of all abilities, refining skills in age-appropriate subject areas such as boys’ hip-hop, tiny tots, and adult tap. Aside from the regular class schedule, special programs in competitive dance and musical-theater training afford committed dancers the opportunity to learn performance techniques such as jazz hands and the classical worm.
When they aren’t leading formal dance lessons, the studio’s instructors guide adults through Zumba and yoga workouts. All classes take place on the hardwood floors of a professional studio that features three air-conditioned dance rooms, a waiting room, and viewing windows through which tennis shoes gaze jealously at their sleeker counterparts.
Roots Gymnastics' safety-certified coaches, some of whom have competed internationally, use gymnastics as a tool to help children to grow physically, socially, and emotionally. They begin teaching boys and girls at age 12 months in Little Sprouts programs, which build coordination and balance. In recreational programs for ages 6-18, the instructors instill more advanced skills as kids catch some air on in-ground trampolines and foam pits. In addition to gymnastics, coaches instruct in areas such as free running, wrestling, and pommel-horse grooming. They also form competitive teams for a variety of different skill levels. Roots Gymnastics boasts 19,000 square feet packed with Olympic-quality equipment. The gym includes four in-ground trampolines, a rope swing, and two foam pits.
With three stories worth of ball pits, ropes, nets, and slides to explore, kids can spend hours playing and expending energy in the climate-controlled vastness of Big Adventures. In addition to play areas, kids will also find a wide variety of interactive video games, arcade games, carnival-style games, and a ticket redemption store where they can buy out all the bouncy balls. Party packages are also available to celebrate a kid's special day with pizzas, soda, piñatas, and access to the whole facility. And because safety's important at Big Adventures, the 40,000 balls in the ball pit are sanitized twice a week, more than 30 security cameras monitor the facility, and there is a strict no-dragon policy, even if they went to obedience school.