Western Hills Golf Course in Waterbury, Connecticut, USA | GolfPass
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3.2
11 Reviews (11)
5 Stars
2
4 Stars
4
3 Stars
4
2 Stars
0
1 Stars
1
Conditions
3.1
Value
4.1
Layout
4.1
Friendliness
4.0
Pace
3.5
Amenities
3.8
93.5%
Recommend this course
9 out of 11 reviews
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Average Rating
Avg Rating
3.0
1 Reviews (1)
5 Stars
0
4 Stars
0
3 Stars
1
2 Stars
0
1 Stars
0
Conditions
3.0
Value
4.0
Layout
4.0
Pace
3.0
StaffFriendliness
4.0
100.0%
Recommend this course
1 out of 1 reviews
Read Reviews
Average Rating
Avg Rating
3.0
1 Reviews (1)
5 Stars
0
4 Stars
0
3 Stars
1
2 Stars
0
1 Stars
0
Conditions
3.0
Value
4.0
Layout
4.0
Pace
3.0
StaffFriendliness
4.0
100.0%
Recommend this course
1 out of 1 reviews
Read Reviews

About

Holes 18
Type Public/Municipal
Par 72
Length 6356 yards
Slope 129
Rating 70.5

Course Details

Year Built 1960
Golf Season Year round

Rentals/Services

Carts Yes - $16 - $32
Clubs Yes
Pull-carts Yes

Practice/Instruction

Driving Range No
Bunker Yes
Teaching Pro Yes
Pitching/Chipping Area Yes
Indoor Practice Yes
Putting Green Yes

Policies

Metal Spikes Allowed No
Single Allowed Yes
Walking Allowed Yes

Food & Beverage

Bar, Restaurant

Available Facilities

Banquet Facilities

Reviews

3.2
11 Reviews (11)
Advanced Filters
Overall Rating
Recommended
Handicap
Age
Type of Golfer
Gender
Played On
Reviews 237
Handicap 0-4
Skill Advanced
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
3.0
Top 25 Contributor
Connecticut Advisor
Previously Played
Hot weather
Walked

A Good William F. Gordon Layout

If I had one takeaway after playing the back nine today at Western Hills for the first time in years (I now live in eastern Connecticut), it was that this design is still quite competitive with more modern tracks. What supports such an assertion? I’ll cite the course’s playability, its careful design and variety, and its general challenge.

BACK NINE SUMMARY

The back nine’s strengths are highlighted by a stretch of four holes running from thirteen through sixteen. A good par-5, thirteen opens from a high tee, challenges you on the second shot again with its tight, tree-lined fairway, and concludes at a heavily bunkered, canted green. Fourteen, also woodsy on the drive, is a long par-four playing uphill to a huge green sloped back to front. Another tough and tight par-five comes at fifteen, where the green is reachable from the plateau driving zone, but the second shot must be almost perfect. Sixteen is a standout par-three where you’ll need to judge and hit the tee shot very accurately just to land somewhere on the green, elevated some twenty feet or more above the tee.

The rest of the holes may be a bit tamer, but they’re still well-designed. The short twelfth is a drive and pitch hole to an elevated green, fronted by a pond and best approached from the fairway’s right side. The seventeenth, ideally played with a fade off the tee, features a tricky approach, which often will be hit from a pesky sidehill lie.

COURSE HAZARDS & DEFENSES
A vintage 1960 layout created by the late William F. Gordon, Western HIlls does not have a water hazard on every other hole, but it’s perfectly fine with the single one it does have. The beauty and challenge of this course is nearly spelled out in its name by the word “Hills.” Drive up the road to the clubhouse and the plunging fairway on hole one (to your right) makes that immediately apparent . But the other major defense to par is the mature and often towering trees. If you have a wild-military-golf day out here, it will be reflected in your scorecard. Yet it’s not necessary to be laser-straight off all of the tees: basically straight is good enough. WH also features enough nicely-groomed and strategically-placed bunkers around the greens; they favor those, generally, who hit high approach shots. The doglegs here curve gently (no right angles).

THE COURSE DESIGNER:
Although not a household name among golf architects, William F. Gordon was a seriously talented designer. Consider this: The founder of Golf Digest, William H. Davis, cited Gordon’s Stanwich Club in Fairfield County as the ONLY Connecticut course in the Northeast as among “The World’s Best Golf” (a Golf Digest publication, 1991). Stanwich still ranks number one in the Golf Digest 2021–22 Best Courses by State. Of course, precious few golf courses rival the near-perfection of a layout like Stanwich, but it’s clear that Gordon knew a thing or two about what makes a respectable golf course. And this is the single William F. Gordon public track in Connecticut. Western HIlls has several impressive holes and no bad ones. More importantly, it will test both your ball-striking and short-game skills on every one of them. Difficulty? The facts speak for themselves: the slope is 129, the stroke-rating 1.5 shots lower than par.

CONDITIONING:
Good on the greens and bunkers; decent on the tees and fairways except for the landing zone around the pond on twelve; average to poor in the roughs, notably at 13 where I had to hit a shot in the hilly left rough from what was bascially gravel. Overall, about average for today’s muni, and better than what I remember from the 70’s and 80’s when I regularly played here. A big plus are the new cart paths (although I walked).

AMENITIES:
I didn’t have time to try it today, but I’ve been told that the bar is good, and the patio where it’s situated is spacious and provides a nice vista over the closing holes.

SOME CONCLUSIONS:

I like Western Hills for the intelligently designed Gordon layout. Conditioning is decent–typical of most munis–and quite good around the greens. The environment here, as always, is friendly and low-key. I found this track a great deal of fun to play again, as well as a firm challenge.

Conditions Average
Value Good
Layout Good
Friendliness Good
Pace Average
Difficulty Somewhat Challenging
Played On
Reviews 3
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
Verified Purchaser
Previously Played
Conditions Excellent
Value Excellent
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Excellent
Amenities Excellent
Played On
Reviews 57
Handicap 10-14
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
3.0
Verified Purchaser
Top 1000 Contributor
Previously Played
Cold weather
Used cart

Needs work

Granted we played in the end of November, but the cart paths are full of ruts, the fairways are very rough and there are piles of leaves everywhere. The greens were in pretty good shape.

Conditions Fair
Value Average
Layout Average
Friendliness Good
Pace Good
Difficulty Moderate
Played On
Reviews 22
Skill Advanced
Plays Once a week
1.0
Verified Purchaser
First Time Playing
Conditions Poor
Value Poor
Layout Average
Friendliness Fair
Pace Poor
Amenities Poor
Played On
Reviews 2
I Recommend This Course
4.0
Verified Purchaser
Previously Played

Costly

When arriving the manager was surprised to see how much more I paid with golf now rather than dealing with the course directly. I’ll know better next time

Played On
Reviews 44
I Recommend This Course
5.0
Verified Purchaser
First Time Playing
Conditions Good
Value Excellent
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Good
Amenities Excellent
Played On
Reviews 15
Handicap Don't know
Skill Intermediate
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
4.0
Verified Purchaser
Previously Played

Enjoyed the day

Course is a bit difficult because you are always either above the ball or below. Pretty hilly too. Always meet nice people there.

Conditions Average
Value Excellent
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Good
Pace Good
Amenities Excellent
Played On
Reviews 15
Handicap Don't know
Skill Intermediate
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
4.0
Verified Purchaser
Previously Played
Conditions Average
Value Excellent
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Good
Amenities Excellent
Played On
Reviews 40
Handicap Don't know
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
4.0
Verified Purchaser
Previously Played

Hilly challenge

Course was in very good condition for our weather. Kudos to grounds crew! Slope and distance here always provides a good challenge to your game. Pace of play was good for the number of people on the course.

Conditions Excellent
Value Good
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Good
Pace Good
Amenities Good
Played On
Reviews 3
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
3.0
Verified Purchaser
Previously Played

Very good value through TeeOff specials.

Tee boxes need work. Cart paths need to be grated or replaced . My only concern during this time of Covid 19 is that the carts needed to be cleaned better; there were rakes still in the sand traps and the holes on the greens were not raised up. Have played East Mountain (sister course) several times over the last few weeks and feel they are adhering to the Covid guidelines for play much better.

Conditions Good
Value Good
Layout Average
Friendliness Fair
Pace Good
Amenities Good
Played On
Reviews 55
Handicap 15-19
Skill Intermediate
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
3.0
Top 500 Contributor
Connecticut Advisor
First Time Playing
Average weather
Used cart

Better Than Expected

When the discount golf program I subscribe to had Western Hills Golf Course in that program I thought I’d give it a try, having never played there. None of my buddies had either so I looked for reviews but couldn’t find anything helpful or recent. The ones I did find were several years’ old and mostly bad. I was skeptical but curious, so a buddy and I booked a tee time, prepared for the worse and hoped for better.

Bottom line, Western Hills is a better than those old reviews state. It’s not fantastic but for the price (see below) it’s fine and I’d definitely play there again. This 18-hole municipal course is located five minutes off I-84 (exit 18) in Waterbury, CT at 600 Park Rd. After getting off the exit there are 3 ways to go at the traffic light – left, center or right. We turned left and got lost. Go straight (center) across West Main St to Park Rd. The course is about a mile further on the right up a hill. There are signs stating “Public Golf Course” with an arrow.

It was still early in the growing season so we were not expecting pristine conditions for this mid-April round. The grass was just starting to develop, and the temps were about 60 on a cloudless, windy day. We also learned that their in-season maintenance staff was still arriving so I expect conditions to get better as the season runs on. When we arrived we found a small pro shop and a nearby practice putting/pitching green area. Their greens fees are average (see their website) and on-line and other discounts are also available. We used our discount program and were very satisfied with the price - $15 each for 18 holes with a cart. I recommend using a cart unless you are fit as the course is hilly with undulating fairways, both up & down and side-to-side. The 366 yd (blue tees) first hole is a good example. You’ll be hitting from an elevated tee into a left-to-right sloping valley. The green is uphill. I also suggest packing extra balls. And, before you leave the pro shop ask what the pin placement is for the day (1, 2 or 3) then refer to your scorecard for the location: front, center or back.

From the blues tees the course is 6376 yards, white 6136 and red 5237. I would suggest a fourth set of tees around 5900 yds as the reds are too short for some people and the whites too long. The layout is standard with four par 3’s ranging from 138-162 yards, four par 5’s from 458-527 and ten par 4’s from 305-391. The course is tucked into a hilly, heavily wooded area with most holes separated by mature trees. There is only one water hole, the dogleg left par 4 twelfth. There is a pond at the far end on this dogleg so don’t overdrive the fairway. A layup is necessary. Many fairways are quite wide with a minimal number of small sand traps protecting the greens. All traps had deep, soft sand. Most greens were tricky to reach and keeping the ball on the putting surface, on longer approach shots, was challenging on some holes. Almost all the greens are undulating and difficult to read (some optical illusions), but all were in good condition for this early in the season.

As stated earlier, the fairways are undulating so you’ll need to play the roll off the hills to stay in the fairway. You’ll also be hitting many up/down and side hill lies. I'm certain the regulars know where to hit the ball. The holes are clearly marked and for the most part the asphalt cart path was in good condition. There are 200 and 150 yard stakes in the fairway and 100 yard red saucers in the ground. The pace of play was great. We got off right on our tee time and never were pushed or held up on any hole. We played in four hours but could have made it in 3.5 if we didn’t hit a couple extra balls on most holes. This was a practice round for us and the foursome behind us was two holes back. After the round we hit the 19th hole “Verdie’s” a full-service restaurant, bar and banquet facility. The sandwiches looked delicious and the guys next to us said the food is really good and reasonable.

I trust this updated and detailed review will be helpful. I would have given a 3.5 rating but I would like to see how the course looks at different times during the season.

Conditions Average
Value Excellent
Layout Good
Friendliness Good
Pace Excellent
Amenities Average
Difficulty Somewhat Challenging
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