Almost 100 years after the Devereux Emmet-designed course at the Country Club of Farmington opened for play, architect Matt Dusenberry and superintendent Scott Ramsey (who spent 15 years at Yale) started an ambitious renovation/restoration project for the layout.
The following extract is from an article published in Golf Course Architecture in January 2020:
“We will be using Emmet’s 1921 plan and 1934 aerial photo as guidance for renovation and restoration improvements,” said Dusenberry. “The club has embarked on the first phases of the renovation by addressing removal of select groups of trees. Future improvements are being considered carefully and there will be a phased approach. This allows the club to limit disruption to play and be sensitive to capital expenditures.”
Dusenberry and Ramsay have previously worked together on the renovation of Keney Park golf course in Hartford, also in Connecticut. “It’s a masterful renovation and re-birth of a Devereux Emmet design and that experience translates well into our long-term improvement planning,” said green chair Geoff Manton.
The Country Club of Farmington was founded in 1892, and Emmet completed an 18-hole course in 1924. Some renovation work has been done over the years by Orrin Smith, Geoffrey Cornish (1960), and Bob Cupp (1985). Over the past several years a ton of trees have been removed. It is 6,580 yards with a par of 71.
The terrain for the course is a “tale of two cities.” Holes 1-3 and 15-18 are on the east side of busy Waterville Road, and the terrain here is very steep. Holes 4 through 14 are on the west side of the road, where the terrain is basically flat after holes 4 and 5.
The Farmington River is on the far west side of the property. Holes 10 and 11 run parallel to the river. However, a row of tall trees is at the bank of the river so only a bad slice would put you under water. The other water is Pope Creek, which winds around the 525-yard par-5 6th hole, and the pond in the middle of the 17th hole.
There are only 65 bunkers with none on the 11th hole, a 377-yard par 4 with the Farmington River on the right. The green sizes vary from small to large and have some contour. Many are elevated and a few close to fairway level.
There are a few Emmet trademark semi-blind shots. The one that still sticks out as a mystery is the approach shot to the 14th hole, a 416-yard par 4. This hole has eight bunkers, the most bunkers on any hole. There are tall mounds short right of the green and more tall mounds center and left at the green. Today the pin was invisible and it turned out that we were shooting at a small green. Standing in the middle of the fairway I just could not figure out what I needed to do. I almost could hear Devereux laughing at my predicament.
Farmington CC is always in pristine condition. It has been a standard bearer of a top private club for very long. The greens are challenging. The course is set up with 7 holes near the clubhouse and on a severely sloped terrain. Across the street are 11 holes which lie on a flat terrain with the Farmington River adjacent to several holes. The course doesn't have much room for increased length as its site is utilized to its fullest already. It's a joy to play and it will be interesting to see after the current renovation takes place.