Stanley Golf Course - Blue/White
|Red (W)||73||5384 yards||72.0||126|
|Blue M: 71.2/123||522||380||205||396||191||331||434||147||461||3067||511||442||191||377||445||330||138||410||482||3326||6393|
|White M: 69.4/120 W: 74.0/122||500||370||182||387||178||295||420||136||452||2920||492||430||158||352||390||320||117||387||460||3106||6026|
|Gold M: 67.5/117 W: 72.4/120||489||355||165||359||160||270||414||127||416||2755||462||418||136||330||350||296||96||352||445||2885||5640|
|Red W: 72.0/126||476||347||144||350||150||259||405||118||401||2650||452||410||129||301||304||286||90||334||428||2734||5384|
Stanley Golf Course: A Surprising Tolerance for Stagnation on Its Tees and Fairways
In the 80’s and 90’s, I lived closer to Stanley Golf Course than I do now, and used to play it almost regularly during the summer months. It was a course that we could depend on for a solid round of golf, and I don’t recall ever having a problem with it. Of course, times change, and today I had the opportunity to return to the old track, squeezing in a round of nine while my son played in a junior tournament at Tunxis. My expectations were positive for writing a favorable review, and the course itself again proved to be more than acceptable, but today’s issue was this: nine holes took 2 and 1/2 hours to play. I’ll get to that later.
My general impression after playing nine holes here—on the Blue set—is that the course has been well-laid out, is relatively easy to walk (as I did), and presents a modest level of challenge. The greens are sloping, putt smoothly and truly, and mostly are very large, which affords them a variety of pin positions. Not one is extremely tilted, making them perfect for a muni like this one. With hills and dells almost throughout, elevation changes keep things interesting. Areas around the green slope enough, but also have bail-out areas, making for some challenges but also supplying a nice level of playability. Also around some of the greens are significant falloffs.
What is better—especially for low handicappers—is how the course plays on the long side. Hole seven stood out as a kind of marquee representative of this tendency, at 430 yards from the back tees (that is, the blues, from which I played). Two other par fours are slightly shy of 400 yards; two of the par threes are 200 and 194 yards, respectively; on these, I was able to used hybrids—a three on the former hole, four on the latter. The lone par five, number one, can be played as a two-shotter by big hitters; for the majority of golfers, though, it will require three shots to reach the green’s surface. Adding to the festivities is hole number six, a beautiful short par-four that doglegs sharply left. Playing a three-wood so as not to run through the dogleg, I hit a sand wedge into the green, a smaller-than-average surface sitting at the base of a small declivity and defended by bunkers. This wedge had to fly over a large tree positioned just after the corner of the dogleg, which heightened the interest of this approach shot by adding a measure of suspense.
Some serious golf, anyway, is to be had here, but the real question for me became this: Is this enough? For better players, the best I can say is, ‘It depends.’ If they want to shoot a good score, then this nine—taken by itself—will be an ego-booster on most rounds. But if they want to experience the full scope of challenges that a strong golf course can deliver, then they will only be met half-way. What the layout itself lacks, in my judgment, is a little bit of flair, coupled with too few thrills—in the way of exciting challenges. A few too many of the shots and golf holes here are plain vanilla. Bunker placement around the greens is generally predictable: except for the par fives, the typical set-up is for only one or two bunkers to be positioned at the green’s sides and to their backs; none of the bunkers on the other seven holes, quite atypically, lie in front of the greens. This in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but when you combine this with relatively straight fairways, bunkering in those fairways on only two holes, and a general lack of other problems (there is one water hazard, but it will only catch widely errant shots), then what becomes evident here a layout with too much blandness.
This does not mean the course is dreary; Stanley’s blue nine is better than average. The standout holes, six and seven, are definitely stimulating, and so, in a way, is number nine, but only mildly, and only on it’s the third (approach) shot into its well-defended green.
Moreover, the final hole is still more about careful shot placement than strategy: it is pure target golf. In fact, none of the holes carry much in the way of risk/reward, because the greens, again, are open in the front—the player can always run the ball on without much fear. And few of the greens sit on plateaus, i.e., ones that are raised enough to help defend them. So the main challenges are negotiating the lengthy holes, avoiding some large greenside bunkers (though most are relatively easy to avoid, unless your approach shot is a bad one) and staying out of the trees that line most of the fairways. Single-digit players, then, will not likely feel this nine pushing them hard. What we have, in my opinion, is a course mainly for average and above-average players—and clearly it is pretty close to ideal for them in level of difficulty. The distinction I want to make is not that better players won’t be challenged at all, but rather that the extent of challenges this nine offers is on the limited side. From a cursory glance at the scorecard, though, I’m guessing that the revamped red and white nines are better.
Conditioning is very good here, and one has to appreciate not only the smooth-rolling greens, well-kept tees and rough, but also the general course appearance and its grooming. The clubhouse, pro-shop and environs—including a driving range—are all impressive, hinting at an air of pride and organization about the whole operation. The one conditioning shortfall here, which is understandable because of how much play a municipal course like this one gets, concerns the fairways. Although these are mostly good, some of the landing zones are a bit chewed up in places. This is no different, however, from many public courses in Connecticut and elsewhere, especially by this point in the summer.
Today my foursome played a 2 and ½ hour round, despite the fact that the course was uncrowded. The culprit was a very slow walker in the threesome ahead of our group, who went so far—literally—as to fish golf balls out of the ponds, twice (I’m not kidding). Aside from that, he displayed all the common attributes of slow play. What happened as a result of this? We were backed up starting on the second hole, and this persisted all the way to tee eight. At this point, two groups were right behind us—one on the 7th green, the other directly behind them, waiting to hit on. A course marshal approached us; we told him the story. As we briefly explained what had been happening, no one was angry, spoke in sarcastic tones, or raised his/her voice. Astonishingly, the marshal simply said nothing, drove up the seventh fairway, and never approached the offending group, by now on the ninth tee. Needless to say, we all followed the same slow group ahead of us for the last excruciating hole. On the ninth fairway, things slowed down to a torpid crawl, and for a minute or so it appeared that the weak player, ahead on the fairway, was being given lessons by another member of his group (Again, I kid you not).
As you may expect, all of us—including the group behind, whom we talked to about it—felt cheated and, quite frankly, betrayed. Doubtless Stanley has a slow-play policy, but is this how they enforce it? For golfers, the invariable outcome from this kind of response is a poisoned experience. Of course, we virtually always have wide latitude about what golf club(s) to which we choose to give our hard-earned dollars. From past experience, and speaking for many other golfers that I know as well as myself, clubs that maintain a cavalier attitude about their customer base, and how their employees treat them, do so at their own expense. That, anyway, is merely common sense. I trust that Stanley, from my past experience here anyway, is not one of these. More importantly, slow play is still a fly in the ointment in this great game, a problem that every course needs to at least ATTEMPT to swat—and, let’s hope, kill.
Though I still like and appreciate the overall strengths of this golf course, it is certainly hard to recommend Stanley as a place to play after this kind of experience with slow play and, more notably, how it was handled. The caveat should by now be clear: newcomers should think twice and consider their tolerance for slow play before choosing this venue.
Was this reviewer paid by the word?
Beginner or pro it’s a great course to play
Love this course. I am new to the game and my husband is a seasoned player, it’s a perfect course for both of us to play. The hills are a great workout if walking. Beautiful grounds and nice and quiet.
First, the starter had a problem because we had a tee time and they had an outing and somehow he'd get us in 18 holes. How is Golfnow supposed to know they have an outing if the course doesn't let you know? Secondly, the fairways are mowed so tight you gat many lies that are a challenge. Third, the bunkers were not raked, the staff was still mowing and on many tee boxes the red tees were not replaced. Last, the way to the next hole were quite confusing considering each of the 3 sets of nine holes criss cross each other...and I've played this course numerous times!
The starter work with us to insure that we played the less restricted courses due to wetness
Always in good shape
Been playing here for over 40 years and conditions are always good and prices are fair. Restaurant has great food also and staff is friendly.
A new fave Muni?
We played this course for the first time in many years . It was a wonderful surprise, much like Hartford's well documented Keney park revival. New Britain has a well managed and cared for gem.
Just an average public golf course. Layout very confusing hard to find the next tee. Easy to get hit with a ball from neighboring fairway came close to me twice. the course was in good condition considering the recent weather. pro shop personnel not the most sociable I have ran into at other public venues.
Played the white to red. Good contrast in layout(open and relaxed to hilly and tighter).
Fairways in excellent condition. Tee boxes have problems, sparse grass and slippery. Greens were airated but playable.
Good value at $40. With a hot dog and soda to boot.
It's like a brand new course!!!
I grew up in the New Britain area, so I learned a long time ago, to avoid the "red" nine whenever possible So, when I saw that our 18-hole round was the "White-to-Red" track, I was not exactly thrilled.
The White nine is unchanged, but the Red nine? Umm...it's essentially a brand new nine (except for the first hole)!. And it is STELLAR!
Great course, great practice facilities, great staff. Honestly the new-look of the Red nine caught me off-guard, so I will definitely be back for another shot at it!
Well done, New Britain. Well done, indeed.
Great course that is in tremendous shape. Carts with GPS. Nice restaurant and bar.