Course Name: Connecticut National Golf Club
Designer: Mike Donovan/Sally Donovan (1994), Mark Mungeam (Redesign, 2007)
Location: Putnam, Connecticut
History: Connecticut National originally opened in 1994 as the private Putnam Country Club. In 2007, new owners hired Mark Mungeam to completely revamp the course and turn it public.
Conditions: 7/10, The conditioning at Connecticut National is strong, with quick smooth greens, and well kept fairways and teeboxes overall.
Value: 6/10, We played on a summer weekend for $43 and a cart, which I thought was a fantastic deal. Current rates are $44 on weekdays and $71 on weekend mornings. Although walking is cheaper, the rugged hilly terrain here almost mandates a cart.
Tee Par Yardage Rating Slope
Black 71 6935 72.9 133
Blue 71 6321 70.5 128
White 71 5913 68.4 123
Gold 71 5002 69.2 119
Hole Descriptions: I never had the chance to play here before the renovation but all sources seem to indicate that Mungeam did a fantastic job in terms of both playability and variety. The resultant course is a rugged design, notable for elevation changes and plenty of forest-lined fairways.
The opening hole at Connecticut National is a short 461 yard uphill par 5 that provides golfers a good chance to start their round with a quick birdie. Accuracy trumps length here, with OB left and a bunker on the right at 260 yards. Players going for this green in two have to contend with numerous bunkers short on either side and a small pond short left. The 2nd is a 387 yard dogleg right par 4 that plays much shorter straight downhill. This hole plays somewhat blind off the tee, with OB left and mounds of fescue lining the right. This large green is shaved down on all sides and slopes hard right-to-left.
At 389 yards, the par 4 3rd is a fantastic Cape-like dogleg left and the clear highlight on the front side. This hole shares its teebox with the 8th and offers the golfer several options off the tee. The entire left side of this fairway slopes severely towards thick rough and bunkers, but aggressive drives can cut the corner over these hazards. Classic design influences can also be seen on this back-to-front sloped Redan-like green guarded by a deep bunker short.
At a stout 207 yards, the 4th is the first par 3 at Connecticut National. This hole plays slightly downhill to a narrow back-to-front sloped green guarded by a large bunker full of fescue mounds short right. Although the course starts out strong, I’m not a huge fan of the 327 yard par 4 5th. It seems like Mungeam ran out of room here with this short, crammed dogleg right lined heavily by trees the entire way. Any drive over 230 yards will run through this fairway and this flat, circular green lacks imagination.
The longest hole at Connecticut National is the 560 yard 6th, a beast of a par 5 that plays straightaway the entire length. This is a difficult driving hole, with tall trees lining both sides of a tight fairway. The second shot is also challenging, as this fairway narrows even further with water on the right between 200 and 130 yards to the green. The 7th hole plays 171 yards downhill to a fairly large green guarded on both sides by small bunkers. This green complex is severely sloped back-to-front and getting up-and-down is no easy feat. At 333 yards, the 8th is one of the most memorable holes on the course as it plays straight downhill and is reachable for a sizable portion of golfers. A generous fairway further encourages the player to go for it with the only danger being a pond that lines the right side of this green.
One of the holes most edited by Mungeam is the par 3 9th, an 151 yard par 3 running back towards the clubhouse. This hole plays straight uphill to a perched green guarded short right and back left by tiny bunkers. The original green here is directly to the left of the current-day one and is now used as the practice green.
As a whole, the back 9 at Connecticut National plays flatter and more straightforward than the shorter front 9, but the 10th is an exception. This 375 yard par 4 runs straight uphill with a forced carry of 160 yards over a water hazard to a fairway that contains a foolish bunker in the middle about 240 yards off the tee. This is a challenging hole to begin with and there’s absolutely no need for this bunker. The approach on this hole runs even further uphill to a relatively flat green guarded by a bunker short right.
At 152 yards, the 11th is another medium-length par 3 that plays level to a wide green with a mound and bunker short left. The 12th is a solid 505 yard par 5 that unfortunately fails to stick out because it runs parallel to four of six final holes. Like the 12th, these holes are generally tree-lined with sporadic bunkering and mounding running alongside the fairway. The 13th is probably the weakest of the bunch as a straightaway 333 yard par 4 running between the 12th and 14th. While this hole requires an immediate 125 yard carry over a small pond, there’s nothing else notable about this hole except for another inexplicable bunker in the middle of the fairway about 260 yards off the tee. Playing 399 yards, the 14th plays semi-blind uphill off the tee to a fairway lined by tall trees on the left and OB to the right. You can’t tell from the teebox, but there’s a pond on the left about 260 yards from the tee. This kidney-shaped green is guarded by bunkers short and left.
The 177 yard 15th is the final par 3 at Connecticut National. This hole features a large green guarded by a deep bunker short left and a visually intimidating bunker running from the teebox to the fairway. The 16th is officially the 8th handicap, but is the most difficult hole on the course in my opinion. This is a long, straightaway par 4 playing 427 yards with trees on both sides. A mound of fescue jutting out into the left fairway at 235 yards is to be avoided as are the pair of bunkers 100 yards short of this green. Beware of the false front here. The 17th is another difficult hole, although it only plays 369 yards. This dogleg right is an awkward driving hole with a dogleg right at about 240 yards and bunkers at 200 yards on the left and 255 yards on the right. These bunkers combined with the dogleg and trees don’t inspire much confidence on the teebox for most golfers. This small green slopes back-to-front with a bunker short right. At 552 yards, the closing hole at Connecticut National is an epic par 5 that plays severely downhill with a scenic backdrop. With a generous fairway lined by trees, golfers can grip it and rip here hoping the elevation changes yields a 300+ yard drive. The second and third shots are more difficult, as this fairway narrows with several bunkers, including a principal’s nose one about 130 yards short or the green. This two-tiered green finishes directly in front of the clubhouse.
General Comments: Connecticut National is out of the way from pretty much everywhere, occupying the sparsely populated Connecticut-Rhode Island-Massachusetts border. Driving here is an adventure and GPS often misses the course. Practice facilities are above average, with a short game practice green and grass range sufficiently long to hit driver. Pace of play was strong the day we played and is usually good from what I’ve heard.
Verdict: Connecticut National is one of the better public options in all of New England and easily the best course in Northeastern Connecticut. Fun, affordable, and always in good shape, I recommend this off-the-beaten track course for golfers of all skill levels.