Connecticut is not necessarily thought of as a mountainous state, however that Bull’s Bridge Golf Club is located just a few miles off of the Appalachian Trail should give a hint to players as to what kind of terrain they should expect when they set foot on this course.
It’s a rare Tom Fazio in the New England region, but the architect does well to tie his signature style into the “old world” aesthetic of the region, with stone walls running throughout the property. Fazio is not shy about creating some ambitious landscapes on his projects, but he allows the mountains to do the talking for him in most cases at this property.
There are a few exceptions, where players will be forced to partake in more adventurous shots: Nos. 12 and 16, both par threes, will require significant carries and drops to reach the putting surface. Despite the ample opportunity to air it out from the teebox down to mountain fairways, the course plays just under 7,000 yards, which is a touch shorter than many Fazio designs. This may be a slight nudge from the designer that perhaps you should look for accuracy off the tee, and leave the big stick in the bag.
One of the hallmarks of architect Tom Fazio is the consummate skill in creating holes utterly captivating to the eye. Bull's Bridge is a scenic layout and Fazio has done his utmost in creating the "look" that entices golfers throughout the round.
The shotmaking challenges are good and quite varied. Fazio generally eschews courses that are mindless slogs and Bull's Bridge has land which is used smartly with a routing that gets the most out of the site.
As with private clubs that sport a Fazio layout -- the turf quality is first rate.
Best of all the site is roughly 400 acres -- with no invasive clutter -- just you and your golf ball. How welcomed is that.
The closest you come to humanity is the 13th hole -- with Bulls Bridge Road. snaking nearby.
It clearly helps the ambiance to see New England style stone walls adding to the golf atmosphere.
How good is Bull's Bridge?
From the many courses I have played in the Constitution State I would easily have the club in the top ten and a very good case can be made for a top five placement.
Being sequestered in the northwest corner of the State adds to the experience when playing but it's likely meant less awareness from those who rate courses. Shame on them indeed -- Bull's Bridge is one layout serious golfers need to cross and see firsthand.
MJ - Bull’s Bridge certainly sounds worth a visit if you can get on. From your playing experience, which course or courses fly most under the radar? And how big a role does having an unfashionable designer - or getting few panelist visits - play in any relative lack of appreciation?
When I first scanned this review (following a rather fun night consisting, appropriately, of New England IPAs), I somehow managed to read “from the many courses I have played in the constipation state” - and marveled at your commitment whilst seeking out new courses. Had to read it three times until the haze cleared. New England has great golf & great beer.
Happy New Year to you - keep ‘em coming & best wishes for 2022!
In regard to the initial question, you raised -- there are a number of courses that fly below the radar screen. The New York metro area is highly touted for the elite clubs that exist -- Shinnecock, NGLA, WF, Baltusrol, et al -- but the incredible array of lesser known layouts is amazing. The GAP section in the nearby Phillie area is also worth mentioning given the number of courses there that fly low on the radar screen of recognition.
One can say the same for East Lothian in Scotland. There's more present than just Muirfield and North Berwick / West. So much of the awareness comes from television and when such clubs have hosted major events.
It behooves architectural mavens to look deeper than the lowest hanging fruit on the tree.
Those courses with architects who are not known have a tougher climb up the mountain of awareness. There are also various raters who are "groupines" to certain preferred architects. As a result, just about any project associated with these "preferred" architects will get a most positive review. I try not to automatically convey such high marks on PAST work but what the architect has done with the project in question. See my review of C&C's work at Ozarks National in Missouri as a good example from modern layouts and my comments on Yale -- also in CT -- and with Highlands Links in Nova Scotia / Canada.
Bulls Bridge is a quality Tom Fazio layout and one of the best courses I've played in CT. The issue fundamentally with rating courses is keeping an open mind at all times. With each course I visit I start with a blank sheet of paper and then fill in the details from that specific visit.
What many people may not realize is that there are a number of lesser-known architects who are now doing stellar work and need to be feasted for the work they're doing. Far too many people follow the herd mentality and erroneously conclude that an architect who has done great work previously will forever do so. Each on its own merits.
Simple as that. Hope my information was helpful.
Happy New Year to you and your family with long straight drives, unerring approaches and putts that go ker-plunk in 2022 !
Brilliant MJ - thanks for the comments. Judging each course on its own merits - starting with a blank sheet of paper - seems like a great way to go.
And as you’ve mentioned before, the strength in depth around NYC is nuts - so understandable that many courses there stay out of the limelight.
The allure of alliteration notwithstanding, this review has created additional interest for this particular course (in my eyes at least), and I would love to visit Bull’s Bridge one day to find out for myself how good it is
Bulls Bridge is a really nice course which seems to have it's own world. It is so far out in the country you could never imagine you are in CT. The course is on a mountain side with glorious views all about. The playing field traverses these hills and seems to fit right in. The facility is top notch with a staff which is motivated to make your day special. There are quite a few elevated tees with dynamic holes laid out before you. A few holes approach the side of very rocky terrain and offer some interesting hazards. The green complexes are interesting but not so varied as to be overly punitive. The course just plays nice and could easily be your everyday play if you lived in the NW corner of CT. I have tried to get here for some time and the opportunity finally came. Drop everything and go.