Hitting Connecticut's Western Golf & Wine Trail
GolfTrip Destination: Connecticut
By Katharine Dyson
Wth twisting roads, open meadows, rivers, lakes and valleys, when you're driving through Western Connecticut, it's hard to believe you are so close to major cities like Albany, Buffalo and New York.
What makes the landscape such a visual pleasure, also makes it a perfect canvas for golf architects like Gary Player, Robert Trent Jones and Seth Raynor. The region is also a fertile ground for vineyards so several wineries flourish here. Those combining a passion for both wine and golf will find a golfing holiday in Western Connecticut an exceptional experience.
Quarry Ridge, Portland
You'll need to summon some Yankee ingenuity when you play Quarry Ridge Golf Course. Carved through rock, forests and ledges, you may wonder: are you really in Connecticut, not Vermont?
Overlooking the Meshomasic State Forest and the Connecticut River, the stunning course, designed by Al Zikorus and Joe Kelley (1993) lives up to its name with massive stone outcropping, ledges, dramatic elevations and large stands of trees. Level lies can be hard to come by.
It's on the short side, but well protected greens and some good risk and reward holes make for a memorable round . On the back side where you are rewarded with views of the countryside and the river, you'll want to have your camera ready, especially from the 10th tee where the Connecticut River unfurls below.
You must use a cart, but with several steep climbs, unless you're into serious hiking, you'll be glad you did.
6,389 - 4,852 yards
70.9/124 - 66.7/117
Greens fees: $47-$57
9 Rose Hill Road, Portland, CT 06480; 860-342-6113; www.quarryridge.com
Lyman Orchards Golf Club, Middlefield
At Lyman Orchards you have choices. Play the older, kinder Robert Trent Jones track or tee off at the newer Gary Player course.
The classic RTJ course can be easier on the more errant shooters yet on 10 holes, water comes into play. RTJ designed the track to be a demanding par but a comfortable bogey.
On the well-bunkered Player layout, you'll be hitting over water, target driving through narrow wood-lined fairways and negotiating blind shots. You'll need to hit with precision to score well.
The par 3s are thoughtfully designed. Long walks between tees require you take a cart on this course.
Both courses are ranked among CT's Top Ten Public Golf Courses, The Best of the Northeast and named in Zagat Survey and Zagat.com as among of the best courses to play in the United States.
Gary Player Signature Course
6,725 - 4,900 yards
Robert Trent Jones Championship Course
7,011 - 5,812 yards
73.3/132 - 69.6/128
Greens fees: $49-$74 including cart
70 Lyman Road, Middlefield, CT 06455; 888-99-LYMAN; 888-995-9626; www.lymangolf.com;
Fairview Farm Golf Course, Harwinton
Designed by owner Bob Ferrarotti (also owner of the neat nine-hole Stonybrook Golf Course in Litchfield), Fairview Farm Golf Course is built on the former Delay Farm in the tree-carpeted Litchfield Hills.
Elevated tees, wetlands, ponds, woods, bunkers and a behemoth double green create more than enough challenge on this well-maintained track. On some holes, you'll feel like you are on top of the world with views stretching for miles.
A 7,000 square foot clubhouse with a pro shop, bar and restaurant overlooks the whole lot. There is also a driving range and a two tiered putting green.
6,660 - 4,780 yards
71.7/125 - 67.6-118
Green fees: $40-$64; cart $18 (cart included Fri. - Sun.)
300 Hill Road, Harwinton, CT 06791-2503; 860.689.1000; 860.485.9694; www.fairviewfarmgolfcourse.com
Richter Park Golf Course, Danbury
Skirting around and over the West Lake Reservoir and Boggs Pond, Richter Park continues to reign as one of America's top public courses, but good luck getting on. (Residents have priority but try mid-week.)
With water coming into play on at least 14 holes, undulating fairways and steep drop-offs if you go astray, you can be punished but one thing for sure, you'll never be bored. For starters, there's the par 3 #5, a total carry over water to the green with no bail-out area.
Fall play here provides a magnificent display of color. This course is walkable, but carts make it easier.
72.9/133 - 70.6/121
Green fees: $87-$97 inc. cart (non-Danbury residents)
100 Aunt Hack Road, Danbury, CT 06811; 203-792-2550; www.richterpark.com
Candlewood Valley Club, New Milford
You could call it a nice walk in the park on this mostly flat layout if you didn't have to negotiate over wetlands (on newer holes #4 and #5), steer clear of the water on more than half the holes or weave through narrow tree-lined fairways on the back nine.
6441 - 5,242 yards
72.0/126 - 72.5/123
Greens fees: $37-$44; cart $16
41 Danbury Road, New Milford, CT 06776 860-354-9359; www.candlewoodvalleygolf.com
Hotchkiss School Golf Course, Lakeville
From the man who brought you the famed Yale course in the early 1900s, Seth Raynor, this little gem rolls up and down the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains and in and around the handsome brick buildings of Hotchkiss. Raynor's camel-hump greens are well maintained relics from another era (1924) providing putters with frighteningly wicked line-ups and even more terrifying putts.
The combination of a beautifully landscaped campus overlooking the village of Lakeville, replete with stately brick buildings and an old golf atmosphere makes for a unique golfing experience.
36.2/130 - 34.8/114
Greens fees: $20-$39 inc. cart when available
48 Interlaken Road, Lakeville, CT 06039-0800; 860-435-4400; www.hotchkiss.org
Western Connecticut Wine Trail
Western Connecticut's wineries march over scenic hills of the state which provide good micro climates for growing grapes. (Call for tasting and tour hours).
In New Hartford, the small family-owned Connecticut Valley Winery, produces award winning red and white wines. Noted wines include Black Tie Cabernet Franc; their estate bottled red table wine, Deep Purple; Black Bear, a red dessert wine; and Dolce Vita, a sweet, delicate white. Ask about their wine dinners. 1480 Litchfield Turnpike (Route 202), New Hartford, CT 06057; 860) 489-WINE (9463); www.ctvalleywinery.com
More than 15 wines are produced by Degrazia Vineyards in Brookfield. Ranging from dry to sweet, using estate grown grapes, local fruit and honey, Degrazia's nine varieties of premium hybrid and native American wine grapes are planted on high sloping hills. Dr. Digrazia, founder and winemaker, is known for his clean, crisp style of winemaking. 131 Tower Road, Brookfield, CT 06804; 203-775-1616; www.digrazia.com
Opened in 1973, Haight-Brown Vineyards in Litchfield is Connecticut's first established vineyard. It's wines include labels like Big Red, Apple Crannnie, Rapture and Honey Nut Apples. Try their gently oaked Chardonnay. 29 Chestnut Hill Road; Litchfield, CT 06759; 860-567-4045; haightvineyards.com
Founded in 1998, Jerram Winery in New Hartford, offers 10 wines, along with several award winners produced from a variety of grapes including Marechal Foch, Seyval Blanc and Vignoles. 535 Town Hill Rd. (Rte. 219); New Hartford, CT 06057;860-379-8749; www.jerramwinery.com
The Jones Family Farms in the small picturesque town of Shelton has been working the land for 150 years selling produce, Christmas trees and now wine. Connecticut Magazine has named Jones Winery as the recipient of 2010's "Best Wine." 606 Walnut Tree Hill Road; Shelton, CT 06484; 203-929-8425; www.jonesfamilyfarms.com
Sitting above Lake Waramaug in New Preston, Hopkins Vineyards produces some very good sparkling wines as well as semi-sweet wines with tastings in a vintage dairy barn. Their 2008 Estate Bottled Westwind was awarded a gold medal in the American Wine Society National Commercial Wine Competition and the 2008 Estate Bottled Duet won a silver medal. 25 Hopkins Road, New Preston, CT 06777; 860-868-7954; www.hopkinsvineyard.com
Miranda Vineyard welcomes visitors to taste and take home their Goshen Farmhouse Red, the award-winning Vinho Fino and other wines. With Portuguese wine makers' roots, winemakers Manny and Maria Marinda are producing wines like Woodridge White, a silver medal winner in the Amenti del Vino International Wine Competition. 42 Ives Road, Goshen, CT 06756; 860-491-9906; www.mirandavineyard.com
Hand-crafted wines and St. Croix Wine are specialties at Maugle Sierra Vineyards in Ledyard. St. Croix wines are triple fermented and aged for years in toasted American Oak Barrels. 825 Colonel Ledyard Highway (on CT Route 117),
Ledyard, CT 06339; 860-464-2987; www.mauglesierravineyards.com
In Sherman, White Silo Farm invites you to taste their sweet and dry fruit wines made from raspberries, rhubarb, blackberries and other farm-grown fruit. 32 Route 37 East, Sherman, CT 06784; 860-355-0271; www.WhiteSiloWinery.com
Dry table wines are a specialty of the 160-acre McLaughlin Vineyards in Sandy Hook. 14 Albert's Hill Road, Sandy Hook, CT 06482; 866-599-9463; McLaughlinVineyards.com
Also check the Connecticut Wine Trail: ctwine.com
In addition to the chain hotels, there are some unique inns and B&Bs.
Commanding a head-on view of Lake Waramaug, The Boulders in New Preston offers leisure pursuits like paddling in a canoe, swimming, playing tennis or biking around the lake or into town to check out the antique shops. The inn has rooms and suites in the main house, carriage house and hillside cottages (good for golfers). Many have fireplaces, balconies, and two-person jacuzzis. 800-455-1565; bouldersinn.com
The 163-room Heritage Resort in Southbury, has a full array of facilities including spa, fitness center, pools, restaurant, and the 9-hole Pomperaug golf course where water comes into play on every hole. 800-932-3466; heritagesouthbury.com
The Hopkins Inn is surrounded by vineyards. Rooms are comfortable, not fancy and some have views of Lake Waramaug. 860-868-7954; HopkinsVineyard.com;
When was the last time you planned a golf getaway at some mind-blowing new course or a classic beauty designed by the likes of Jones or Ross, then chose a place to stay strictly for its seductive views, tubs for two and king canopy beds? Not in this life? The Mayflower Inn, a Relais & Chateaux property, is a fitting accompaniment to this scene. It's not for the budget-minded, but for those looking for a place with attitude, it's life in the good lane. Think Tabriz rugs, Chippendale, original 18th and 19th century art, lavish fabrics, and gold gilt mirrors. You got it. 860-868-9466; mayflowerinn.com
One of the best things about staying at Interlaken Inn, Lakeville, a sprawling resort with 82 rooms and suites on 30 acres, is the Hotchkiss School Golf Course next door. An odd combo of rustic-homey and conference efficiency, the inn offers a variety of accommodations but for privacy we suggest a room in one of the houses like Sunnyside. There is a private beach, pool, tennis, fitness center, bar and restaurant. 800-222-2909; interlakeninn.com
Bed & Breakfasts
The rooms and suites at the high chic Inn at Kent Falls, Kent, features lux appointments like Frette linens, down duvets and pillows, CD players, and fireplaces. Baths are large, one with a six-foot claw tub plus a rainfall shower. Start the day with an ample continental breakfast and a workout in the gym; end the day with a soak in the jacuzzi, a dip in the pool or a snooze in the hammock. 860-927-3197; theinnatkentfalls.com
Find down-home cooking at The American Pie Company in Sherman (americanpiecompany.com) and at The Boulders in New Preston, dining outside on the terrace overlooking Lake Waramaug is a wonderful way to end a busy day. If you're looking to impress, the pricey gourmet cuisine at the Mayflower Inn in Washington should do it.
Hartford's Bradley International Airport (http://bradleyairport.com) is the closest major airport.
Best Time To Go
For best weather; late spring, early fall and summer are the best. Catch the harvest in late fall.
Litchfield Hills' rolling landscape and reasonable green fees.
It may look like a quick drive checking out the map, but with the twisty roads, you need to allow extra time. And enjoy the ride.
Article Tags: CT Golf, Connecticut Wine Golf Trail
Revised: 02/22/2011 - Article Viewed 39,450 Times
About: Katharine Dyson
Katharine Dyson is a freelance golf and travel writer, author, and columnist for several national & international publications and websites as well as guidebook author and blogger. Realizing that a golf and travel writer is the most underpaid, over privileged profession on the planet, she embraces the life style traveling all over the world to play golf and check out resorts. She is a member of the Golf Writers Association of American, Golf Travel Writers of America, the Society of American Travel Writers, and Metropolitan Golf Writers Association.