Golf Advisor Icon
Rating Index Rating
Tooltip Information Icon
4.7
8 Reviews (8)
5 Stars
4
4 Stars
4
3 Stars
0
2 Stars
0
1 Stars
0
Conditions
4.9
Value
4.6
Layout
4.7
Friendliness
4.4
Pace
4.3
Amenities
4.1
100.0%
Recommend this course
8 out of 8 reviews
Read Reviews
Average Rating
Avg Rating
4.7
3 Reviews (3)
5 Stars
2
4 Stars
1
3 Stars
0
2 Stars
0
1 Stars
0
Conditions
5.0
Value
4.3
Layout
4.7
Pace
4.0
Amenities
4.7
StaffFriendliness
4.0
100.0%
Recommend this course
3 out of 3 reviews
Read Reviews
Average Rating
Avg Rating
4.8
4 Reviews (4)
5 Stars
3
4 Stars
1
3 Stars
0
2 Stars
0
1 Stars
0
Conditions
5.0
Value
4.5
Layout
4.8
Pace
4.3
Amenities
4.3
StaffFriendliness
4.3
100.0%
Recommend this course
4 out of 4 reviews
Read Reviews

About

Holes 18
Type Public
Par 71
Length 6573 yards
Slope 131
Rating 72.0

Course Details

Year Built 1933
Fairways Rye
Greens Bent

Rentals/Services

Carts Yes
Pull-carts Yes

Practice/Instruction

Driving Range Yes
Caddies No
Golf Simulator No
Pitching/Chipping Area Yes
Putting Green Yes

Policies

Credit Cards Accepted American Express, Cash, Debit Card, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Metal Spikes Allowed No
Walking Allowed Yes

Accolades

  • Golf Advisor: Top Courses in Connecticut (2019 #4)

Reviews

4.7
8 Reviews (8)
Advanced Filters
Overall Rating
Recommended
Handicap
Age
Type of Golfer
Gender
Played On
Handicap 0-4
Skill Advanced
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
Incentivized Review
4.0
Top 250 Contributor
Connecticut Advisor
Previously Played
Cold weather
Walked

High Quality Parkland Golf in Meriden

Hunter Memorial Golf Course, located in the northeast quadrant of the city of Meriden, has long been recognized as an astute choice for serious golfers. In one sense, it has to be good, because it competes with a raft of other high-quality layouts all within a 15 mile radius—such as Portland, Quarry Ridge, Timberlin, both Lyman courses, et al. According to Pub Links magazine, Hunter was recently named the “number seven public golf course in the state” and “has been named a top ten course by the Connecticut Magazine” (as the course’s website reports). Hunter is the modern product of architect Albert Zikorus, who extensively remade this layout between 1986 and 1988. Zikorus was trained under Donald Ross, the World Golf Hall of Fame inductee (1977), whose influence often shows up on these greens. Interestingly enough, another Ross connection exists in the course’s history: one R. J. Ross, a distant cousin of Donald, principally designer the original incarnation of Hunter in 1929.

I reviewed Hunter’s front nine after playing it in June, finding it entertaining and challenging on every hole (although #8, I think, comes in for criticism for being a bit too bearish and may seem overwrought for most golfers). I got a chance this week to play the back nine one day after work, in the waning hour or so of the day, and enjoyed it, if not quite as much as I did the outward half.

NOTES ON THE BACK:

PAR FOURS: The strength of this back nine is a quintet of par-4's from holes 12 through 16. From the blues, they are basically all within 20 yards of one another in length (367—390). Three of them—12, 14, and 15—stand out, but all for different reasons.

Your difficulties here begin in earnest at the twelfth, where you are greeted at the tee by a fairly open driving zone—though canted rightward. The key will be your short iron into this green: it will have to traverse some prodigious bunkers to the raised green. Fourteen, at 386 yards and uphill, boasts a plateau driving area and a terrific green complex (see photo). If you hit too far rightward on your approach, the resultant up-and-down will require great skill, out of either a deep bunker or from further down this steep side slope. It is the best hole, arguably, on the back nine.

The fifteenth is a pure test of accuracy off the tee; most golfers will hit driver or three wood as far down the slope as they dare: the landing area narrows progressively the farther one hits, with a stream crossing the fairway and deep woods guarding both flanks. The approach shot at 15 is not as tough, thankfully.

The other two par 4's in this stretch, 13 and 16, are undistinguished, though the latter's dogleg will require a precisely struck tee shot to reach the fairway’s crook and so open up the green, situated downhill from the fairway’s landing zone.

PAR-3’s: Good, solid par-threes, though they are not all that feisty. The eleventh is basically flat, though well-bunkered by three traps, green-side; it is further defended by a pair of small ponds on either side of the short fairway strip preceding the putting surface. Both of these 3-pars are approximately 180 yards (blues) but the 17th plays shorter from a perched tee box.
Although hole seventeen lacks bunkering, a steep and long falloff to the right adds a strong element of danger. A large, right-side tree may hamper your aerial attack on this green via a draw. It’s a better strategic hole than 11 because its lack of strongly impinging greenside hazards gives you more options from the tee (one of them is rolling the ball onto it); moreover, the green is nicely contoured.

PAR-5’s: Though these are good holes, they lack strong strategic interest. The tenth may play a full 587 yards from its deep tee (which appeared under repair today), but its fairway is broad and bunker-less. Only hooks are truly dangerous shots on this hole, given that a very long pond, leftward, lies in wait. There is some bailout room on the tamer right side; the only worry is a line of widely spaced, but mature, trees. This, then, is mainly an exercise in target golf all the way to the green.
Eighteen is similar: these parallel fairways (10,18) share the same line of widely spaced trees, and again—minus any bunkers— the real trouble on the finishing hole is left, where the treeline is dense. And like hole ten, there’s enough space to bomb away without much anxiety. The real challenge on 18 is making it a two-shotter; an accurate second is called for if you hope to find its well-bunkered green.

THE GREENS: The greens are well-conditioned and well-designed here, with modestly undulating surfaces, but none on the back really stood out as paragons. They are consistent with Zikorus’ style, yet he has fashioned much tougher surfaces (and more Ross-like) at courses like Indian Springs, a nine-holer, and, to a lesser extent, Timberlin. In fact, I find a disparity between the difficulty of the front side greens at Hunter and those on this back side.

CONTITIONING: Quite good for November, but probably unfair to rate it at this time of year. When I played the outward nine this summer, I thought it to be between good and excellent for most parameters.

IN SUM: The inward nine at Hunter does not generally match the outward, despite several very good holes. The front simply has more energy and drama. As a group, though, these eighteen holes will put up a fine battle against even the most accomplished players. Consider, at very least, that Hunter measures in the vicinity of 6,660 yards from the blues, and more importantly is sloped at a formidable 131. This routing’s recurring theme is its hills: from pronounced elevation changes on an excellent piece of terrain, Mr. Zikorus fashioned solid, interesting, and sometimes perilous holes. Those who find satisfaction in varied and demanding golf should consider giving Hunter a try at their next opportunity.

Author’s Note: I received no compensation for writing this review from either this website (GA) or the golf course. The incentive refers to entry into a sweepstakes.

Value Excellent
Layout Good
Friendliness Good
Pace Good
Amenities Excellent
Difficulty Extremely Challenging
Played On
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
Previously Played

Must play course

Course is one of the best public hidden gems. Always in great shape and provides a challenge to golfers of all levels

Conditions Excellent
Value Good
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Good
Pace Good
Amenities Good
Played On
Handicap 0-4
Skill Advanced
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
Top 250 Contributor
Connecticut Advisor
Previously Played
Perfect weather
Walked

Shades of Hunter Green

Albert Zikorus (1921-1997) was one of the key figures in Connecticut public golf course architecture. By my count, he designed upwards of 35 courses in this state, including additions and re-designs, and I associate him with a fantastic routing he created in my home town, Southbury, at Heritage Village. This private course—I was fortunate enough to play it throughout my high school, golf-team years—was the Connecticut home to the LPGA tour from 1971-73. It should also be remembered that Zikorus was one of several architects who trained under Donald Ross (as described by Geoffrey Cornish in his landmark work, “The Golf Course”) when he began practicing his craft in the 1950’s. Though his work was clearly influenced by that of Ross, the aspects he ‘adopted’ are far from slavish: his creations retain their own identity and originality. But Zikorus also could be just as formidable a designer of golf holes as was Ross. If you want to sample just how testing Zikorus’ work can be, go out and play the second nine at Crestbrook Park (from 1980; Cornish designed the front) in Watertown from the back tees. Having been a member at Crestbrook some time ago, I can assure you that this nine in particular will identify any flaws in your golf game, from minor to glaring. The second hole, for example, is a 470 yard par-four with a green reminiscent of those at Augusta National. Other prominent public courses designed by Zikorus include Tunxis, Topstone, Timberlin, and Tashua Knolls (talk about alliterative ‘t’s). Then there is Hunter Golf Course, here in Meriden, a layout that belongs in any conversation regarding the best designs of Al Zikorus.

Hunter G. C. is not quite as demanding as Crestbrook Park, but it is surely rigorous enough. You will be under the gun on the opening tee shot, which must traverse a pesky stream on the 368 yard first hole (yardages refer to the blue tees in this review). And if you slice it here—Hello, pond! I’m not a fan of opening holes like this one, but maybe the best way to cross the water and play this opening tee shot is to the left, as long as you can dodge a couple of trees past the stream. Otherwise, your second shot to a plateau green will be much longer. The second hole, a long par-three, is the second punch of the opening one-two combination. It travels uphill to a well-guarded, double-bunkered green. Side-note: its bunkers are deep.
Following this, the best hole of the opening trio—number three, an uphill par-4—forces you not to let up (assuming you got off to a good start). Favoring a draw, the driving zone here punishes slices on its left side, which slopes downhill. Your approach will be equally demanding to another plateau green, which features a bunker left and steep falloff to the right. For me, this third hole has a U.S. Open feel, and does not tolerate foolish shots gladly, as even your tee shot must emerge out of a chute of trees.

Thankfully, you get a bit of a breather on the fourth, a short par- three of 354 yards. The driving area is generous, but things will not come too easy for us after such a gift; the second shot must land on a plateau green, flanked on both sides by a bunker. Most golfers should be hitting the approach here with a wedge or short-iron in hand.

Hole five returns to the ‘demanding’ mode, as what could have a perfectly straightforward hole is rudely interrupted by a humongous, sentinel tree guarding the fairway’s left side. Drive safely. Once past the tree, it is all uphill—strongly so—to another well-protected green. The main hazard on this second shot is the right-side woods, while the left side is a true bail-out area, though it does slope downhill and will make for awkward stances in the rough. It’s a feisty hole from tee-to-green, and once on the green—well, you know what to expect. Hole six brings the first genuine birdie opportunity for most golfers, as this simple par-three to a large green should be hit in regulation. The hole will challenge you in the event your tee shot is errant, however: three large bunkers precede the green, with tree trouble behind it.

Then it is on to a fairly severe par-four, the 432 yard, downhill seventh. A gentle dogleg left, the hole puts a premium on driving, and longer hitters will need to guard against hitting too far right into the rough (even though there is an opening here), where their subsequent shot will be blocked by the tree-line. A significant downslope beginning from the tee box means that this hole does play shorter than its numbers, and a precise approach shot may bring another birdie opportunity. Two bunkers threaten shots veering to the left side of the seventh green, however.

On the eighth hole, we will find that the ante has been upped further; many consider this the course’s toughest hole. It is, in fact, a bear, and its claws are out on the tee shot, where the fairway slopes left on a dogleg right. If this sounds like a treacherous combination, you have heard right. Was the architect having a bad day when he dreamt up this hole? Or am I too critical? Lets’ stay positive: Hit a controlled fade off the tee, or even a mild slice, then couple it with solid iron approach, and you can ‘beat’ this golf hole, provided—that is—you can successfully putt its canted green.

The drive on the ninth is a true white-knuckler, as the lofty tee (I’m guessing it rises some seventy to eighty feet over the fairway below it) lets you get an ideal look at what appears to be the small fairway/target below you. If you do fail to find the view intimidating, it may be that you need to take up a more challenging sport. In reality, it’s all too easy to miss the ninth fairway, especially because curvature on the ball will be magnified when it drops from this height. There is a bail-out area to the left, where scattered trees provide some space, but a slicer may find this hole nightmarish—the right side is all woods. This is a great short hole: after you find the tight landing area, you must follow up further by landing your second shot onto an elevated green, protected by a lone bunker on its right flank.

Hunter’s back nine (to be reviewed fully at a later date) could be harder than the front—I think it’s basically a coin toss—as it is both tighter and a bit more finicky in several places. More water also comes into play. The nines are about the same length, given that they’re within a hundred yards of one another, but give the length advantage to the front because its par is one stroke less at 35.

Tough yet straightforward, strategic but sometimes unforgiving, Hunter Golf Course is a pure test of golf. Better still, it can be played by virtually all handicap levels, though even experts will appreciate the barriers it puts up to par. The greens are frequently tilted, undulating as a rule, and quite fast; the course is also well-groomed, especially for a public venue. Having sampled the restaurant’s food today, I will say that it, too, is very good.

Conditions Excellent
Value Good
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Good
Pace Good
Amenities Excellent
Difficulty Extremely Challenging
Played On
Skill Intermediate
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
Previously Played
Conditions Excellent
Value Excellent
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Excellent
Amenities Average
Played On
Handicap 5-9
Skill Intermediate
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
Previously Played
Used cart

Fair, but challenging....

Love this track...

Many people complain about the opening tee shot (a tough carry over a brook), but if you haven't brought your "A"-game, then admit it and lay up. Besides, there are plenty of holes to make up from your mistake (two short-ish par 4 on the front and a wide-open "boom it" par 4, as well.

You need to not lose your concentation here, because the backside -- especially 14-16 -- are challenging. Course management is a must here.

Finally, can't say enough about the staff here. Pro shop is always friendly (there's a lot of history in the that room!), the starters are welcoming, and the rangers are awesome.

If you haven't played here, you should. If you have played here, you know what I'm talking about.

Conditions Excellent
Value Excellent
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Excellent
Amenities Good
Difficulty Somewhat Challenging
Played On
Handicap 15-19
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
4.0
Previously Played
Perfect weather
Used cart

Wrong rating/slope

Hunter's website says the rating and slope for the red tees is 72.7/131. Their scorecard says 72.3/127. GHIN.com has a 3rd set of numbers. I used my G P S and the few holes I actually checked were a lot shorter than the scorecard. They've moved some red tee boxes up but have not been re-rated. The CSGA needs to get on it. Other than that messing with my handicap, the course was fun to play and challenging at the same time. I will play it again when the rating/slope is corrected.

Conditions Good
Value Good
Layout Good
Friendliness Good
Pace Poor
Amenities Good
Played On
Handicap 15-19
Skill Intermediate
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
4.0
Top 250 Contributor
Connecticut Advisor
First Time Playing
Good weather
Used cart

A Wide Open Course

Before you read this review, bear in mind that I go into detail about each course I review, not just a cursory word or two or a short, complimentary phrase. I play 30-40 different courses annually and will review any I’ve not played or if something significant changed about the course. Since there is only one other review for this course, you might be interested in my recent experience at Hunter.
(I am not a paid reviewer)

BONUS TIME: With the weather in the low 60’s how can you not want to play golf in Connecticut in December? Yesterday our foursome picked Hunter Golf Club in Meriden. Having never played Hunter, I found it a wonderful course and will now add it to my must-play courses during the golfing season. It has wide fairways, very little deep rough with thick trees and bushes to contend with, (except along the border of a few holes), the large greens are relatively flat and true, and the course was in great shape for this time of year. The leaves were all down, blown aside or picked up. Everything was in place (tee markers, ball washers, water jugs and sand rakes) unlike a course I played last week which only had the pins on the greens.

LOCATION: Hunter is located about 10 minutes off I-91 from either exit 19 or 20, so it’s easy to get to from the Hartford, Middletown, Waterbury or New Haven areas. The views from the course show low hills to the west and stunning high ridges and cliffs to the north and east. Hunter is a municipal course and like many municipal courses in central Connecticut it is well taken care of – with a few exceptions that are currently being addressed. I found the course in excellent shape in spite of the drought Connecticut experienced this season. Everything: tee boxes, cart paths, fairways, greens, sand traps, rough, trees, etc was well-maintained and without complaint.

Upon arrival you’ll notice a very large restaurant/banquet facility that overlooks the 18th green on the right side of the parking lot. The view from the semi-circular patio is majestic with the open course in front of you and the hills and ridges in the background. The pro shop, located at the left end of the parking lot, is widely separated from the restaurant. There is a large putting green next to the clubhouse and a driving range to the left of hole #1.

RATES: In-season rates are $35/18 regular, $25/18 senior. Carts are $15pp/18. We paid $35/18 with a cart. These are competitive with courses in the area and reasonable for the quality of this course in November or December.

THE COURSE: Hunter GC is laid out essentially north-to-south with generally straight and wide fairways with very few doglegs. The front nine is rather flat while the back nine has some minor elevation changes. The course has six holes with water (ponds on 10 & 11 and a brook on 1,15,16, &18) to contend with. It is not a difficult course to walk although the front nine is easiest.

Ladies par is 72 and men’s par is 70 or 71 depending on the tee box location for #10. From the back tees it can be a 587 yd par 5 or a 380 yd par 4 from a closer tee box. From the tips (blues) the course is 6573 yards. Other yardages are 6156 (white) 5666 (gold) and 5485 (red). From the tips, there are three par 5’s (525-587), 11 par 4’s (354-431), and four par 3’s (162-196).

HOLE HINTS: Most of the holes have sand traps but they are placed fairly, off to the sides of the greens, leaving a large alley to approach the green. Only three holes (10, 12, 18) have sand traps directly in front of the green making your approach shot more difficult.

#1… There is a stream on the first hole that is drivable so a 3-wood off the tee is a strong consideration.

#5…The most challenging hole for us was the #1 handicap 5th, a par five 497 yard hole from the whites. A large tree boarders the left fairway edge just beyond driver range. The narrow fairway slopes off to the right so you have to hit the fairway off the tee to avoid being blocked by that tree. Your second shot is uphill and again you need to keep it in the fairway as it drops off on the left, though to playable rough. Your third shot is routine depending how far back you are from the green.

#14…The first of three tough holes. Keep your drive center or left center to steer clear of the woods and severe down slope on the right side.

#15…Another dangerous hole is the par four 15th, a 359 downhill hole with a small stream at the base of the hill within driveable distance. The stream bisects the fairway then runs alongside the right side of the green. Consider a 3 wood off the tee.

#16….One of the few doglegs, this hole bends left but two, large trees line the that side of the fairway so cutting the corner is risky. Better to drive it straight down the fairway but don’t overrun the fairway. Then pick a club to clear that same stream from the previous hole. The green is elevated and a small target. There is a false front in front of this green.

PACE OF PLAY: Being December and a weekday we were not worried about a five hour round. If fact it only took us 3 hours which was helped by the courtesy of three twosomes that were walking. They let us go thru.

RESTAURANT: The on-course Violi’s Restaurant specializes in Italian cuisine with golf course views from a semi-circular glassed-in facility or outside patio. It is a destination restaurant - not your typical 19th watering hole. The restaurant has an extensive menu that is view-able on-line. Hours are 11am-10 pm seven days a week except in the winter when they are closed Sundays and Mondays. They feature banquet facilities, catering, outdoor dining, receptions and other special occasion parties. The day we played there was a very large party eating lunch in the main dining room and there were many business customers coming/going for lunch.

BOTTOM LINE: Hunter is located in the suburbs and is convenient to the larger cities via I-91 and
I-84. Wesleyan University is a short drive. It is a perfect place for seniors, juniors and ladies or a round with friends where you can bomb away frequently without worrying about losing your ball. The course feels “comfortable” and not intimidating as you walk up to the first tee. It’s also a great place to take a business client ….reasonable greens fees, wide course, very little rough or water and an impressive restaurant. If you can do only nine holes go for the front nine, its flatter.

For more information please see their website ”huntergolfclub.com”. Particularly useful is the hole-by-hole overhead graphic although a larger view of each hole and a summary of how to play it would be a great improvement to this website feature.

Conditions Excellent
Value Good
Friendliness Average
Pace Excellent
Amenities Excellent
Difficulty Moderate
Played On
Handicap 5-9
Skill Advanced
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
4.0
Previously Played
Good weather
Walked

Give it a try

Course is in great shape. Greens roll true thru 18 holes. Traps are raked, rough is manageable. Good pace of play.

Conditions Good
Value Good
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Average
Amenities Average
Difficulty Moderate
Nearby Courses
Middletown, Connecticut
3.88235
35
Middlefield, Connecticut
4.5477882353
108
Berlin, Connecticut
4.5127352941
190
Middlefield, Connecticut
3.8417411765
29
Middlefield, Connecticut
4.1435058824
157
Middlefield, Connecticut
3.7124294118
95
Southington, Connecticut
4.4807764706
208
Kensington, Connecticut
5.0
1
Rocky Hill, Connecticut
2.4761571429
15
Wallingford, Connecticut
4.0
1
Wallingford, Connecticut
0.0
0
Southington, Connecticut
2.2878833333
13

Stay & Play Offers

From $79
Valid dates: Apr 03, 2020 - Oct 24, 2020
Sunriver Resort's Unlimited Stay & Play Golf Package includes unlimited play on Meadows, Woodlands or Caldera Links along with one round at the famed Crosswater Club per day during your stay. Better yet—your lodging is included! Two person, two night minimum stay required.
Now Reading
New Cookie Policy
WE AND OUR PARTNERS USE COOKIES ON THIS SITE TO IMPROVE OUR SERVICE, PERFORM ANALYTICS, PERSONALIZE ADVERTISING, MEASURE ADVERTISING PERFORMANCE, AND REMEMBER WEBSITE PREFERENCES. BY USING THE SITE, YOU CONSENT TO THESE COOKIES. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON COOKIES INCLUDING HOW TO MANAGE YOUR CONSENT VISIT OUR COOKIE POLICY.
CONTINUE