Country Club of Farmington, CT, USA
by Michael Fay
I belong to three Clubs, The Pinehurst Country Club, The Wampanoag Country Club and a little course known as the Country Club of Farmington in Farmington Connecticut.
Pinehurst Country Club is well known and Wampanoag has been bandied about enough in the press, so I’ll tell you of the Country Club of Farmington.
Farmington was established in 1893 with the building of a rudimentary nine holes on the Farmington River. The Clubhouse then, as now, stands directly in the center of town.
In the 1920’s the Club acquired some additional land and hired Devereaux Emmett to design the course. All of the records of his effort with the exception of a hand drawn routing plan have disappeared.
The course at the time of Emmett ended on a particularly difficult par five hole that started on a tee which fronted a pond, went straight uphill about 200 yards, continued down about 200 more yards and then abruptly uphill to a green that now functions as the practice green.
Over the years land has been bought and sold and with that came changes to the golf course. Route 10 which intersects the golf course matured from a little used horse path to a major artery to other suburban areas. As far as I can tell the course was rerouted at least three time, the last time being in the late 1940’s.
Geoffrey Cornish came in at that time and made a few changes done to accommodate a real estate swap. He broke 18 into two holes, a par four 17th and a par three downhill 18th. The old green was turned into the practice green in that the old 18th green now adjoined an expansion of the pro shop. Cornish also changed the old second hole, which was a short dogleg four par with a mean slanted green (13 feet of drop from back to front about an 18 degree slope) to an uphill 192 yard par three with the same ornery green. This was done to accommodate the new green on the new 17th. The new eighteenth green was a bowl shaped green on the end of a 205 yard downhill par three. Unfortunately, the eighteenth green was built on the lowest point of the course and would not drain. In the early 50’s some industrious, yet architecturally challenged members altered this green by piling up soil. They ended up with a toad stool that had and enormous slope from back to front and allowed for no real pin positions.
The course today has nine of the original Emmett holes, four of which are true treasures. The sixth hole is a great option five par that at 485 yards. The hole plays from north to south with a steam that hugs the right side of the hole for about 300 yards and then crosses the fairway. A copse of trees blocks anything that is hit in the left half of the fairway from going at the green in two. If the drive is hit down the right side of the fairway and long enough the player has a chance to go at the green. The problem is that the green is raised about fifteen feet above the fairway, with bunkers at ground zero on either side, The green is only twenty two feet wide, and although it is reasonably deep (about forty five feet) it drops off severely at the back. In essence anything hit left, right or long is dead.
The eleventh, fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth holes on this course are classic Emmett four pars with devilishly small, sloped yet fair greens.
In 1998 the Club hired Ron Prichard to do some fine tuning. Ron replaced the second and eighteenth greens making them playable without completely taking away the challenge. Ron rebuilt some deteriorated bunkers and removed a large number of trees. The work is very sympathetic to the Emmett work. The course in my estimation has been raised from a weak three to a strong five. It is sporty yet challenging. At 6,450 and par 71, it will give you a run for your money.
One last note on Farmington. John J. Murphy has been the professional since 1967. He runs a unique shop (The Little Red Clock Shop) which offers Burberry raincoats to Waterford Crystal not to mention the largest assortment of high tech clubs I have ever seen on green grass. John is the consummate Pro’s Pro. If you ever get in the neighborhood, drop in and say hello.