Hartford public course undergoes renovation

New management, investment has Hartford's Goodwin Park poised for strong 2016

They aren't ready to party like it's 1999 quite yet, but the management teams at Goodwin Park in Hartford, Connecticut are beginning to see dividends from their efforts over the past couple years.

The City of Hartford not only hired new management teams to run the golf operations and maintenance two years ago, but it has also invested around $1 million in capital improvements in an effort to return to the days when the course was doing close to 90,000 rounds in the late 1990s. The 27-hole facility still has a long way to go to reach those kinds of numbers, which were enjoyed during the golf boom that coincided with Tiger Woods' arrival on the PGA Tour, but it has made great strides over the past few years when rounds had gotten as low as 10,000 a year.

"It was in rough shape when I got here," said Kevin Cloud, head PGA Professional and president of Cloud 9, which runs the day-to-day operations at Goodwin Park. "Some of the greens were like dust."

Cloud and his management company were contracted in 2014 when the city hired the Connecticut PGA as a consultant after ending its contract with management company MDM Golf. In addition to Cloud, the city also hired Matt Guilmette and Guilmette Golf, LLC to run the maintenance side of the operation. The city also spent a half million dollars on new maintenance equipment as well as another $500,000 on other improvements, including a new golf cart fleet.

The result has been a rapidly improving golf course and clubhouse. Tees have been leveled, bare spots have been grassed in, and the bentgrass greens are in much better shape than they used to be, Cloud said, thanks in large part to a drill-and-fill aeration in 2014. A new irrigation system might also be in the works, according to Cloud.

"[The] course has come a long way," wrote Golf Advisor reviewer Garandcher. "Needs to be kept up, but management is doing a wonderful job. Lots of potential. Will play it again in the future to see how it has progressed"

Before the changes, there wasn't even a golf shop. Golfers were processed through the snack bar, Cloud said. Now, though it's just 200 square feet, the golf shop carries Nike apparel and Titleist, Tour Edge and Nike equipment, which Cloud and his staff can custom fit. The shop also offers custom-fitted putters through SeeMore Golf.

The facility, which was originally built in 1930, has two golf courses. The South Course is a 6,000-yard par 72, while the North Course is a nine-hole course that measures around 2,500 yards.

Green fees for the 18-hole course range from $15 for seniors during the week to $35 on the weekend (walking). Carts are an additional $17 for 18 holes. For more information, visit goodwinparkgolfcourse.com.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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New management, investment has Hartford's Goodwin Park poised for strong 2016