Welcome, golf connoisseurs, to the first of potentially many course reviews for the golf courses located in the greater Storrs area. Today, I’ll be reviewing my experience at the Windham Golf Course, located at 184 Club Road in North Windham.
With only a 15 minute commute from UConn to the club, Windham is among the closest golf courses in the Storrs area. According to its website, “Windham Golf Course features a vintage 1922 design and an ongoing philosophy that is based on strategic and tactical adaptability. It was designed to reward precise play through the air and on the ground. There are no ‘forced carries’ and all but our shortest holes are built to gracefully receive good shots whether they are high or low or rolling. Our course plays fast and firm, and rewards a good precise short game. Our greens roll true, usually at a speed around 10. We don’t play ‘target golf’ at Windham, because our fairways roll with the lay of the land and there is nothing artificial added to what the land itself has dictated. What you see is almost always what you get at Windham.”
Ever since its establishment, a few of the holes have been restored to maintain their original state. In 2014, the course renovated and re-built their bunkers, brought their greens back to their traditional “excellent” conditioning, and cleaned up their ponds as well as a few decades of organics around the trees. Two new tee areas were opened on No. 1, and ground was cleared of fairway extensions on No. 11 and No. 17, though we won’t cover the latter two in this review.
The course opens with three of the original holes from 1922, with a pair of manageable par-4s where position is more important than length. The site states that “our new first tee makes No. 1 a slight dogleg right, with the pond in play.” Though No. 1 is more straight than it is a dogleg right, the pond may be a factor for golfers that aren’t able to get a firm hold of their drives, with it laying only about 115 yards from the first tee box, left of the fairway. A major characteristic that defines this hole is that the tee box and the fairway are located on two different sides of the road, so make sure that no cars are passing as you tee off! Though the fairway is fairly open, both sides of No. 1 are lined with trees that may prove a burden if your ball lands amidst or on the other side of either tree-line. Accuracy is definitely more important than distance here, as two sand traps approach either side of the green.
Hole two, which the site states is “a mere 300 yards, is all about the greenside tree on the right, protecting an undulating green – Stay farther left than you think!” When lining up from the tee box, keep in mind that this hole will bear right about 210 yards down the albeit open fairway. A good idea may be to play your ball to the left side of the fairway, since if you miss right, — as I tend to — your ball may end up on another hole. The green must be approached with caution, as four sand traps surround the front edge of the green.
No. 3 “has been renovated to play as a wonderful long par-3 (255 yards from the back tees) to a tilted green designed to receive long shots.” A daunting sight to behold, this hole may be a scorecard killer for the average golfer. While the front green is a very manageable 220 yards from the tee box, be sure to trust your accuracy on this hole as any miss left or right will place your ball into a line of trees. The left side of the green is definitely tighter to the tree-line than the right, so if you’re going to miss, a miss to the right could still salvage a good score on this hole. However, not so far that you end up in the sand off to the right of the green.
Hole four, “meanders for 500 yards around to the left, and again the tree lines require some precise placement to set up a wedge to an angular green at the top of the hill.” Speaking of dogleg holes, No. 4 is definitely the most out-of-the-way hole you’ll encounter on the front-9. The par-5 is a staggering 500 yards to begin, but the direction of the tee box will have you aiming about 230 yards downhill, followed by a sharp turn to the left where the hole lays still another 240 yards away. It’s plausible to play this hole safely and take an iron — or even a hybrid — to reach that corner, but advanced golfers may be enticed to try to hit their ball over the trees and try to clear the corner of the fairway for the long 240 stretch on the other side. Either way, this hole requires a bit of both accuracy and distance in order to cover the entire duration.
Hole 5 is described as “a medium-length par-3 that plays to an elevated green protected by a deep bunker to the left.” Though simple, the description is accurate. Located about 180 yards from the tee box, the hole is elevated by the uphill fairway. A good play may be to club down in order to reach the full 180 yards to the green, though a left-side miss will endanger you into losing your ball to the sand. Be sure to note that the greens on this course run faster than normal, or else your ball may also be in danger of skipping over the green if rung too hard.
Though the website claims that the most difficult part of hole six is the tough green, the most difficult part during my experience was avoiding the trailer park that runs parallel to the fairway. “No. 6 is a straight and simple uphill par-4 until you get to one of the fastest and [most] difficult greens on the golf course.” Though a line of trees and a wired fence separate the two entities, don’t be fooled — the trees aren’t stopping your ball from landing in someone’s front yard. The uphill nature of this hole will make it difficult to eye the pin, though No. 6 does fall extremely straight and the fairway is once again open.
Not quite like six, “No. 7 is a very long par-4 running through the middle of our main parkland. Longer hitters will need to draw the ball to avoid the mounds and troubles on the right.” This hole once again forces golfers to tee off facing one direction while the hole lays in another. This time, you’ll be looking about 160 yards straight before the fairway curves left around the tree-line, leaving 260 more yards to the pin. I would once again recommend playing this hole safe and using an iron to approach the corner, but if your drive has some left-side action working, you may be able to squeeze by the trees onto the other side of the fairway. That’s the ideal play here, but far from a guaranteed shot to execute.
“From the everyday tees, Windham’s 8th hole is a medium-length par-5 running along the northern boundary, with lost ball trouble all along the right. From the black tees, it is a monster par-4 playing 465 yards.” Though this par-5 may seem like an open fairway to begin with, be aware of the woods that rest along the right side the entire 465 yards. A miss here and you may not get your ball back — but I speak for myself.
“The front 9 ends with a long downhill sharp dogleg left around the tree line — length matters here, a lot. If you can’t hit it down the hill, then stay to the right for an unobstructed second shot.” The final hole of the front-9, a par-4, is sure to keep you on your toes, as the fairway takes a hard left turn after about 240 yards of straight distance. As a right-handed golfer with a natural slice to the right, I went with an iron to ensure that I was hitting my ball straight and approaching the corner rather than sending a stray driver towards the wrong side of the fairway. Like No. 7, players with a natural hook to the right may be inclined to play their driver on this hole. Once around the bend, the hole is very reachable with only about 120 yards to reach the middle of the green.
Windham Golf notes that their philosophy is that “golf should be fun, hazards should be fair, and conditions should be excellent.” Given my personal experience at the course, I support their philosophy. In many ways, it was equally fun and challenging; though its fairways are open and their green runs true, Windham will force golfers to think strategically before lining up their next shot. Most of the holes utilize the course area very well, incorporating doglegs to guide the hole left or right or incorporating a hazard to manipulate each shot in a certain direction. It’s not the prettiest course in terms of any views you’ll get, but the defining presence of trees was more than enough to satisfy my nature requirements. If you’re a golfer in the area, give this course a try — hopefully you won’t be missing your shots into the trailer park like I did.