Doglegs, blind tee shots, bunkers, water hazards and two-tier sloping greens. There is even a green-backed turtle.
Welcome to some of the toughest golf holes in Eastern Connecticut. Whether you’re a weekend warrior, budding pro, or high school star, these nine holes will test every shooting skill in your arsenal and more.
Our picks include two monster par 5s, four memorable par 4s, and three of the trickiest par 3s this side of Pebble Beach. We visit Quinnatisset Country Club in Thompson, Chanticlair Golf Course in Colchester, River Ridge Golf Course in Griswold, Norwich Golf Course, Connecticut National Golf Club in Putnam, Black Hall Club in Old Lyme and the Shennecossett Golf Course in Groton.
Here is our “Nasty Nine”. Enjoy.
9. Country Club Quinnatisset, Thompson
Hole n° 16, 352 yards, par 4
A blind tee shot on a left dogleg with a sloping green surrounded by bunkers and water kicks off our “Nasty Nine” in style.
The 16th hole of this scenic course, which hosted Connecticut’s Eastern Conference Women’s Tournament Championship last month, is memorable. Golfers hitting the tee look up at a row of trees atop a small hill on the left dogleg that hides the green. There is a pond along the fairway on the right side. The sloping green is protected by a bunker on the left and a bunker behind. The green is also surrounded by water. Getting around here is, indeed, a challenge.
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8. Chanticlair Golf Course, Colchester
Hole n° 4, 138 yards, par 3
This scenic 9-hole course has something you might see on the PGA Tour: an island green.
The well-known fourth hole, with water behind and to the side of the green, is Chanticlair’s biggest challenge. It’s a big water hazard. If you miss the island on your tee shot, which is slightly downhill, you’re in a lot of trouble.
7. River Ridge Golf Course, Griswold
Hole #15, 560 yards, par 5
It’s a monster for any level golfer.
It features a left dogleg and a green with lots of undulations that make puttingts extremely difficult. There is a fairway bunker on the right which is about 200 yards from the back tee. Position off the tee is a must. You need to hit a long, accurate tee shot to enter the center of the fairway and clear the bunker.
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“It’s a risk-reward type hole,” said Jeff Beaupre, who is in his second year as River Ridge’s chief golf pro. “If you try to go in a two, the greens are surrounded by bunkers and it falls off the green which kind of leaves you with a tricky approach shot. It’s not an easy two. The smart game consists of depositing up to approximately 125 after your tee shot.
6. Norwich Golf Course, Norwich
Hole n° 14, 560 yards, par 5
The sheer length of the hole is a challenge for most golfers.
The tee shot requires a right-to-left flight of the ball. Only the longest hitters can reach the green in two. Golfers are then faced with a green that slopes considerably from right to left, justifying an approach shot to the left side of the fairway.
“The key to the hole is to get your second shot to the left side of the fairway so you have between 100 and 115 yards,” Norwich chief golf pro Mike Svab said. “The fairway is flat in this area. Getting closer to the green on the second shot is not an advantage and makes the hole more difficult.
5. Connecticut National Golf Club, Putnam
Hole n° 14, 450 yards, par 4
It’s 450 meters up a hill and in the wind most days.
You can drive a wayward tee shot into a pond on the left side or into the bunker on the right. And good luck on the two-tiered green that slopes from back to front.
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4. Black Hall Club, Old Lyme
Hole 4, 376 yards, par 4
The beautiful course, which hosted the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference State Open in June and was the site of the USGA Senior Amateur Section Qualifier, is the ‘best kept secret’ on the shoreline. from Connecticut.
The fourth hole is considered the biggest challenge on the course. The short par 4 features a straight dogleg and an unforgiving two-tiered green. There is a protected bunker at the dogleg level but the tee shot is not that long. The second shot uphill is the problem.
“If you miss the green, it’s really tough going up and down,” said Andrew Campbell, who grew up in the Boston area and was the head pro at Black Hall for 21 years. “The second shot requires a really good iron shot.”
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The dangerously sloping upper and lower greens – literally two small greens together – are protected by two bunkers on the left and two bunkers on the right.
“You have to fight for two putts,” Campbell added.
A missed iron shot and the ball will return directly to the front of the green and travel 40 yards.
3. Norwich Golf Course, Norwich
Hole #4, 410 yards, par 4
This is the number one handicap hole on the Norwich golf course.
The tee shot is a forced carry over a stream and the second shot is an uphill approach shot to a small blind green.
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“Missing the high green pin on either side or going over the green leaves you with a very difficult high and low,” said longtime Norwich golf pro Mike Svab. “The game on the approach shot is to land the short ball and let it run onto the green.”
2. Connecticut National Golf Club, Putnam
Hole n° 4, 223 yards, par 3
With an elevated tee and sloping green, golfers make a rare birdie on the Connecticut National’s fourth hole.
“Making par is tough,” Killingly coach Kevin Marcoux said.
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The scenic, hilly course nestled in the state’s Quiet Corner is the home of ECC Champion Killingly High School. The fourth hole here has always given golfers fits.
“I tell my guys it’s the shortest par-4 hole in the country,” Marcoux said. “There’s really no room to miss.”
1. Shennecossett Golf Course, Groton
Hole n° 4, 208 yards, par 3
Golfers have been happy with a bogie on this hole for years.
In fact, two decades ago a golf magazine called the fourth hole at Shennecossett one of the toughest holes in New England.
“It’s brutal,” Killingly coach Kevin Marcoux said. “We play it like a short par 4. It’s a bit windy there, so that’s another element.”
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This long par 3 features a turtleback green, which is the signature of Donald Ross courses across the country.
“It’s like a turtle’s back, therefore only the middle half of this green is tenable,” said Todd Goodhue, who is in his 27th season as a golf pro. in Chief of Shennecossett. “It’s one of the most famous par 4s, but it’s a par 3 in Connecticut.”
Golfers are faced with a long uphill tee shot.
“If you are left or right or away from the tee then you miss that green and you face a very difficult chip. There are many who play at the front of the green and accumulate and hope to make a par. If they don’t do the normal, they make a bogie and they’re happy with the bogie.