Best Golf Courses in Hartford
New England is home to many worthwhile golf destinations, but the state of Connecticut – and particularly the capital city of Hartford – tends to get overlooked. Hartford is not on the ocean or in the mountains, but it is close to an ever-improving airport, and the best golf courses in Hartford provide excellent value.
One of the best golf courses in Hartford is Keney Park Golf Course, a historic municipal golf course that recently received a multi-million dollar restoration/renovation effort courtesy of architect Matt Dusenberry, a longtime Greg Norman associate. Dusenberry had a unique challenge in front of him at Keney: restore a long-neglected course with nines shaped in different eras and by men with very different levels of experience. Keney’s front nine was designed by Golden Age master Devereux Emmet, and its back nine was laid out a couple decades later by Robert “Jack” Ross, a Hartford city engineer. Wisely, Dusenberry chose to retain the Emmet style throughout the course, and hit an absolute home run. Now, Keney Park is not just a great municipal course, it is one of the best public courses in the Northeast. Best of all, green fees top out under $50.
But Keney Park is not the only standout Hartford golf course. Just a couple towns over in Bloomfield, Wintonbury Hills Golf Course is another superb municipal layout, designed by Pete Dye and Tim Liddy. Wintonbury Hills’ holes glide up and down rolling former farmland, and the long par-4 14th, which skirts a reservoir, is one of the area’s most memorable holes.
Another solid daily-fee option in Bloomfield is Gillette Ridge Golf Club (image above). This Arnold Palmer Signature design is a stern but fun challenge from any tee, with the drivable par-4 13th tempting players to go for the green from any tee box. The 17th, a par five, has a unique green site, with part of the putting surface located on a concrete bridge above a creek.
Whereas Wintonbury Hills and Gillette Ridge represent the more modern golf options in Hartford, there are a number of solid traditional tests as well. Manchester Country Club, just east of Hartford, boasts an interesting design history, with Tom Bendelow, Devereux Emmet and A.W. Tillinghast all having worked on the course over the years. The par-3 18th at Manchester is one of the best finishing holes around.
Many area golfers enjoy the 27-hole complex at Tunxis Country Club in Farmington, with its 18-hole Green and White courses and its sporty 9-hole Red layout. Just west of Tunxis, on the border of the towns of Farmington and New Britain lies Stanley Golf Course, a 27-hole layout that is not long but provides plenty of challenge with its small, sloping greens. A few miles south, Timberlin Golf Course is another beloved muni that is well-maintained, affordable and has a great local flavor.
Some of the most scenic holes on the Hartford golf scene can be found at Tower Ridge Country Club, a Geoffrey Cornish course in nearby Simsbury, is often considered one of the best golf courses in Hartford due to it’s beauty. The front nine climbs part of Avon Mountain and offers gorgeous views of the Farmington River Valley, especially in the fall when the leaves have changed colors. Just down the road from Tower Ridge in the town of Avon is the flatter but nevertheless engaging Blue Fox Run Golf Course, a 27-hole course with holes on either side of the Farmington River.
The best golf courses in Hartford may not be as well known as other New England golf destinations, but it is easy to get to by car or plane, and is sneaky-strong on off-course activities as well. Hiking trails, river activities (on the Farmington or the Connecticut) and an ascendant craft beer and restaurant scene and the popular minor league Hartford Yard Goats baseball team.