500 Alonquin Road,
Connecticut (CT) 06432,
- +1 203 334 5116
23 miles SW of New Haven
Members and their guests only
A. W. Tillinghast, Ron Forse
Brooklawn Country Club was formed in 1895, with $100 budgeted for establishing a 9-hole golf course, $300 allowed for building six tennis courts and $250 set aside for constructing a baseball diamond. The following year, Brooklawn became one of the first twenty-six clubs to join the newly formed USGA.
Tom Morris, Old Tom’s grandson, was Brooklawn’s first professional, and he was followed as a club employee in later years by Gene Sarazen, who got his first job in golf by “cleaning jobs and sweeping up” around the clubhouse. Honorary club membership would come the Squire’s way further down the line.
There have been several major tournaments played at Brooklawn down the years: the US Junior Amateur Championship in 1974, the US Women’s Open in 1979, the US Senior Open in 1987, the US Girls’ Junior Championship in 2003 and the US Senior Women’s Open in 2020.
In the book The American Private Golf Club Guide, Daniel Wexler describes Brooklawn as “an A.W. Tillinghast redesign of an earlier member-built layout on a tree-lined, fairly compact property (which) may not occupy a spot on Tillinghast’s top shelf, but it’s a fine, classic layout well worth seeing.”
In more recent years, Ron Forse has been gradually restoring the layout and the architect commented as follows: “The strength of this place is amazing. It was the next-to-last major design work Tillinghast ever undertook. And it shows off – or showed off – his talents at the peak of his career.”
As a Connecticut high school golfer, I was fortunate to play a rival team at Brooklawn multiple times. Even without the appreciation for golf architecture that I possess today, Tillinghast’s championship routing on this compact property left a big impression. Brooklawn was among the first courses I have played where every single green complex was bold and punishing. Missing in the wrong spot – usually long – was an absolute necessity.
Sadly, I have only been able to play the front nine at Brooklawn. If ever given the opportunity, I would love to return, especially given Ron Forse’s restoration work. Even though it has been over a decade since my last round, some notable holes from that time include:
- #1: The bunker flanking the left portion of the fairway must be challenged off the tee. The green complex is raised significantly with a daunting false front.
- #2: A downhill par three with gorgeous bunkering that welcomes either an aerial shot, or a right-to-left runner. Options abound.
- #9: Another downhill stunner with a large fairway bunker on the right, preventing you from going for the most aggressive tee shot and best angle on some days.
To this day, Brooklawn is still the best conditioned course of my 230+ played. With so much variety and such pristine playing surfaces, it is no wonder that Brooklawn’s name comes up time and time again for USGA Championships. If you are lucky enough to receive an invitation to play, hop on the opportunity. If not, tune in for the U.S. Senior Women’s Open, postponed to 2021. I would consider it an honor and privilege to return in the future.