“Black Hall” may not evoke exactly the experience a fortunate golfer will have at the Black Hall Golf Club, as the halls will indeed be much greener. That said, the name does describe the Pine Valley-esque aura that this golf club aims to create, making almost every hole a standalone challenge, unbothered by views of players on other holes.
Granted, even if all the trees that isolated each of these Robert Trent Jones holes were gone, the limited membership at this Old Lyme establishment ensures that few other golfers will be present during a given round (no tee times are permitted or required at Black Hall).
These halls of course emphasize accuracy as the key challenge at the course, but the distance is checked accordingly. Playing from the tips, Black Hall only stretches to 6,650 yards, so you may want to leave the driver in the bag more often than not. Still, Jones tempts with accessible par fives. No. 14 is a very reachable dogleg left, but will require a daring cut of the dogleg off the tee, and an even more daring approach into a green surrounded on all sides by bunkers. Longer irons and fewer woods may be the best strategy at Black Hall.
Black Hall is quite underrated in Connecticut. Few actually mention it which only speaks to their ignorance. Undoubtedly that's likely because of the low-key presence and location.
The design from RTJ, Sr., in concert with his lead assistant Roger Rulewich, is a quality design. The design mandates placement over sheer brawn and is neatly defended throughout.
Turf conditions are exemplary and the wherewithal to work the ball from the tee is constantly called upon. The land does have some movement. however, nothing excessive to where a well-played shot is not rewarded sufficiently.
The par-71 layout has three par-5 holes and a quality quartet set of par-3 holes. My only lament is that only two par-4 holes exceed 430 yards and for strong players the need to throttle down from the tee may be the wiser course of action. Bold play will be rewarded but only when purposeful shots are played.
Greens are contoured appropriately so approach play is an-ongoing test to execute smartly.
The course is helped immensely by a routing that never backs off in calling upon players to make appropriate adjustments from hole to hole.
The only area of concern is looking at removing a number of trees where the canopies have become a bit excessive. This is especially so on the inward half.
Black Hall is a fitting test for the broadest range of handicap levels and one that clearly flies under the radar screen of attention. Those driving on I-95 and able to secure an opportunity to play the layout will find their time well spent.