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4.9
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4.8
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5.0
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5.0
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4.3
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4.8
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About

Holes 9
Type Public
Par 36
Length 2915 yards
Slope N/A
Rating N/A

Course Details

Year Built 1929
Fairways Rye Grass
Greens Bent Grass
Architect Aimee Salvas

Rentals/Services

Carts Yes
Clubs Yes
Pull-carts Yes

Practice/Instruction

Driving Range No
Putting Green Yes

Policies

Metal Spikes Allowed No
Walking Allowed Yes

Reviews

4.9
4 Reviews (4)

Reviewer Photos

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Overall Rating
Recommended
Handicap
Age
Type of Golfer
Gender
Played On
Reviews 187
Handicap 0-4
Skill Advanced
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
Top 25 Contributor
Connecticut Advisor
Previously Played

Character, Strategy, Quality

In terms of purely strategic qualities, this course really shines. It’s comparable to some of the very best ‘old-school’ tracks in the state—for example, Manchester Country Club, which I played recently. Harrisville is a course that surprises, I found earlier this year, with its options, variety, and playability.

In any case, having now played this nine-holer four times, it’s not hard to outline its many strengths:
A)..British-style terrain. This is like a solid British inland course, appearing at times like a heathland, at others a parkland layout. It has overgrown patches of high grass used liberally, along with some aggressive elevation changes (only one hole, the fourth, borders on being flat).

B) Scottish-style design: Some of the holes are somewhat simpler versions, you might say, of the old-fashioned template holes: the second hole has several characteristics of an Eden (the original is the 11th at the Old Course in St. Andrews); six is a decent switchback; nine’s ground movement and length seem to be based on a Redan. And three is an out-and-out Road Hole. And, on a few holes, there are plenty of big humps, large and small, that lend a links-like aura to Harrisville.

C) Beyond stylistics, what really matters is the consistent and strategic high quality of the nine holes here. The two par-5’s play tough, with plenty of fairway width but real and often big penalties on both when you hit errant shots. Yet both are reachable; the third is, however, only for big hitters. Then there is the challenging tee shot at five, a longer four-par. Most golfers will want to play this over the big pond for best positioning. The four short par 4’s can be tricky because all have their hazards, but, played well, are genuine birdie-opportunities. But the par-3’s also play tough, especially the second, with its well-defended green strongly pitched from back to front. Every single hole here can be played more than one way, either by the curvature you place on your golf ball or by choosing the ideal route—for your own game—to each hole. The only thing resembling a forced carry (it’s actually not) is the drive at five.

D) The Road Hole, No. 3, 512 yards. Off the tee, you have a couple of choices, much like the classic seventeenth at St. Andrews. You can hit the drive tight to the road—a risky proposition—down a fairly narrow section of rightward fairway, affording you both a shortcut and an ideal approach to the green. The second option is to avoid the rough, along with a big pair of centrally placed bunkers by going wide-left, onto which a wider piece of fairway is the safer option. But the longer approach also brings into play the large greenside trap on the left. Since the hole plays strongly uphill, I found that I couldn’t quite reach the green in two with the heavier air and slower fairways. The second time I played three today, after hitting a very tepid tee shot down the longer route home, I crushed a 3-wood, only to find the big patch of greenside rough: No go. Perhaps my big-hitting days are now only in the rear-view. But this is a tough hole all around.

Other Notes, opinions and comments:
1) Hard to find better 9-hole courses among the 20 in Connecticut. I would rank it No. 2, just behind Seth Raynor’s Hotchkiss School in Lakeville (Hotchkiss was cited 10th across the nation as “Golfweek Magazine’s Best Places You Can Play” for 2016). Both courses run a bit ahead of the pack.
2) Conditioning was excellent, if not quite top-notch, due to remnants of summer’s heat wave in fairways. Everything else was great for a public course.
3) Arguably among the best values of any golf course, 9 or 18, in the state.
4) Friendliness at front-desk is outstanding; met owner Chris at check-in for second time. Very personable.
5) Worth the drive if you value high-quality Golden Age designs, or just want to play an interesting, well-conditioned track. Players I met on the course were also friendly—nice vibe here.
6) Modest clubhouse, but in beautiful, new condition. The grounds are also well-cared for here, with flowers and other natural attractions scattered about the course. Very striking stone wall at the fourth.
7) Aimee Salvas is the designer of record for Harrisville. Was (s)he the original designer of this ninety-one years ago, or has it been remodeled since? Interestingly, Geoffrey Cornish has no record of the course’s designer in his reliable “The Golf Course” (1988). And some of Harrisville has apparently been “refurbished.” But there are dozens of Connecticut layouts with literally unknown architects. My supposition is that Salvas was not the original designer (it’s not a Scottish surname at all—rather Canadian or American) as nearly every architect designing Connecticut courses in the late-1920’s was Scottish. Then again, as Dennis Miller used to say: “Of course that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.”

Conditions Excellent
Value Excellent
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Good
Amenities Excellent
Played On
Reviews 187
Handicap 0-4
Skill Advanced
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
Top 25 Contributor
Connecticut Advisor
First Time Playing
Hot weather
Walked

A Classic Nine in the Countryside

Harrisville is a first-rate 9-hole track. In essence a strategic course, every one of its hole ranges from good to outstanding, and, although several of the four-pars are short, each still offers exciting risk-reward challenges. Built in 1929, this falls squarely into the category of classic Golden Age design. The course is more about flowing, natural ground movement—instead of (thankfully) the needless use of hazards verging on overkill. This should encourage creative golf, rather than mechanical, point A-to-B target shooting. Harrisville’s layout is lively and imaginative, it boasts varied bunkering and green siting, it contains a brilliant stretch of intriguing holes in three through six, and, most importantly, its entertainment value is high. My attention was held on every hole and shot from start to finish. In fact, if I lived in the area here, I’d likely be a member. Nine holes don’t get much better than those on this dazzler.

Things start calmly at Harrisville with two good holes: the first a short, drive-and-pitch four-par with a well-guarded and elevated green; the second an impressive looking par-three that sweeps upward prior to its stylish green complex: bunkered left, big trees right, sitting 170 yards from the tee, and ably defended from shots which are less than well-struck.

By the time I had played Harrisville’s third hole, though, it was fully clear to me that everything has been carefully thought out on this exemplary nine. An absolute beauty, this five-par is where the course turns seriously interesting. It’s a stout, rightward-bending dogleg travelling uphill some 520 yards and reaching another well-guarded green sitting atop a big mound. Tree-lined but wide, the fairway’s openness allows a choice from the tee: you may decide upon the optimal line for your fade or draw. Still, you must negotiate three fairway bunkers (two are pots) on the right side, and this trio intrudes a bit into the fairway’s line. From this landing zone, moreover, you’ll have a similar choice on your second.

Hole three, then, sets the tone for the rest of this nine: subtlety, by virtue of very clever design, combined with some definite rigor. For most players, this hole will be a typical three-shotter. If you miss the second shot down the hole’s left side, (strategic players often will—giving leeway to Underwood Road, hard on the right flank), be prepared to face a difficult, uphill pitch on the third that must cross the green’s gaping left-side trap.

Four and five are the two best holes on the course (see descriptions below). Six keeps the pressure on your game. This uphill par-five—a neat driving hole—again allows a fair amount of room to maneuver on the drive, but big problems ensue if you miss this 40-yard wide fairway by too much. Your second shot, flying straight up a steep hill, requires precision to reach a narrow landing zone with scattered mature trees. It's a birdie opportunity, though the green is hardly generous in size. It’s also slyly bunkered in back with a hidden pot rightward.

Harrisville’s finish is a good but unusual one. Seven and eight are short and even drivable four-pars. They are also laden with trouble from tee to cup. And right about now you’re realized that no hole will be conquered here without some measure of strategy. Both of these are fine holes, but my preference is for eight, as on seven one must guard against falling prey to a quirky bounce, especially on the fairway’s right side. Seven does have a testy green complex, falling off massively on its backside, but fortunately you’ll be hitting it with a wedge of some sort. Eight, on the other hand, appears utterly straightforward—though it is not. Its green set upon a rise and protected by a lone pot bunker smack in the mid-section, this hole is not safely driven head-on. The green complex displays beautiful contours everywhere. Ditto for the ninth hole: it sports the most impressively undulating green at Harrisvillle. This downhill par-3 of 190 yards should play a club shorter than usual, and every effort should be made to flight the ball in from the right, as the green kicks incoming shots right-to-left, even on high approaches.

Best Hole: #4, 275 yard par-4.
Everything about this hole is appealing: looks, playability, strategy. It’s about as good a short two-shooter as you’re likely to play. Some will attempt to reach in one, of course, but let’s hope for their sakes this is done with forethought. The green, being elevated and stashed behind a long-ish, left side bunker, is a small fortress. On its right over the last fifty yards or so are low but artfully designed mounds, appearing as if imported there from a Scottish links. Those playing for position—usually the more prudent option—will hit the tee ball with a hybrid of FW wood, and then a careful wedge onto the surface. Four also features long wispy grasses lining the fairway’s second half along with a stone wall on the right for added definition.

Most Demanding Hole: #5, 430 yard par-4.
How is it that a hole ending in an essentially flat green—and one minus traps—demands the most among these nine? The answer comes from shot values: the architect gives us the most difficult shot off the tee, and then balances the hole’s shot values (hard first shot, then easier second) from tee-to-green. Five’s tee shot, a real doozie, must be pounded to fly a big pond that crosses most of the fairway. There is slight bail-out area leftward and one also could lay up short. Risk-reward comes into play when you choose to hurdle the pond: the longer right your line of attack, the farther the carry, yet the reward becomes a nearly direct, shorter line to the hole. Allow yourself to breathe a sigh of relief after your tee shot actually crosses the pond. Unsurprisingly, the fifth retains the no. 1 index.

One question possibly arises when looking at the scorecard here, and, upon seeing a quartet of short four-pars, we may ask, “Is this genuinely challenging?” And maybe it isn’t, if you happen to be Victor Hovland or Bryson DeChambeau. But a couple of things, I’ll suggest, will answer the question for nearly everyone else: A) these short holes will not be simple pars because their complications—which are plentiful—render them tricky; and B) the par-fives and threes play well above mediocre in difficulty, which is why the slope is an above-average 118.

Harrisville is also a visually alluring course, owing in part to the rising and falling terrain around the property but also its careful manicuring in every respect by ownership. Tree placement varies between copses and lines of mature conifers, evergreens and deciduous types.

It won’t take too long from me to return here with my son. As a rare textbook example of how nine holes ought to play, Harrisville offers the total package of strategic design, high standards, and playability for all golfers.

Other notes, opinions and comments:
a) Conditioning left nothing to be desired. The greens ran smoothly at a medium pace; everything else was well kept. Clearly, the owners take pride in the presentation of this course in numerous ways.
b) The staffer I met at check-in, Cylinda, was sociable, polite, and informative—a strong representative of the organization. The pro shop/clubhouse is attractive both inside and out.
c) Woodstock, a pleasant and secluded-feeling small town, is an hour-long but beautiful drive from my house. Today I didn’t revisit the town itself, but on the drive here I found Windham to be one of Connecticut’s most architecturally beautiful towns.

Conditions Excellent
Value Excellent
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Excellent
Amenities Excellent
Played On
Reviews 1
Skill Intermediate
Plays Once every three months
I Recommend This Course
5.0
Previously Played

Nice little course

Friendly and courteous staff. Nice pro shop. Course layout is attractive and conditions are good.

Conditions Good
Value Excellent
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Good
Amenities Good
Played On
Reviews 1
Skill Advanced
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
4.0
Previously Played

Nice 9 holes

The course has gone through a lot of changes in the past 5-10 years. As of late it is in great shape and offers a good 9 hole experience. The holes play pretty average and include a few long challenging drive holes but also a few drivable par 4s.

Conditions Good
Value Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Average
Amenities Good
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