The unusual Crumpin-Fox name was derived from the local Crump Soda Company, which was sold in the mid-19th century to Eli Fox and renamed Crump & Fox Soda Company.
The course at Crumpin-Fox Club is a much more recent vintage, dating to 1977 when Roger Rulewich completed the first nine when he was working for Robert Trent Jones. A decade later, after a change of ownership, Rulewich was called back in to add another nine and to renovate the original holes. This new 18-hole layout debuted in 1990.
“This upscale public course was one of the forerunners of the type,” commented Tom Doak in The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses, “drawing most of its play from Springfield and Hartford, each an hour away. It won’t be mistaken for an older course, with its modern fairway lines, multi-tiered greens and prominent water hazards, but the golfers who make the two-hour drive from Hartford to play it know what they are doing.
The back nine existed well before the front and most of the better holes are found here, including the attractive sub 400-yard 12th whose fairway bends left between a rock outcropping short left and one long right and the daunting uphill approach to the 460-yard 16th green. The highlight on the front comes when playing the par five 8th where a pond parallels the last 450 yards of the fairway before one pitches over it to a green with several sections.”
According to Roger Rulewich, Crumpin-Fox “has been a labor of love by everyone involved. Variety is the key here, as the holes weave through the changing terrain. This terrain offers the major hazard and challenge with the strongest bunkering saved for the greens.” Clearly the architect loved the site so much, he located the headquarters of Rulewich & Fleury Golf Design adjacent to the 17th hole.
Over the years I have been able to play Crumpin-Fox a number of times as the course is ideally located on one's way to the northern areas of New England when traveling from points south such as the greater NYC metro area.
Roger Rulewich was for many years the right hand man for Robert Trent Jones, Sr and deserves the lion's share of credit for this marvelous layout. Originally, a 9-hole layout the course was expanded to 18 holes in 1990.
The first nine holes was moved to the position as the inward half and it's a solid mixture of different hole types. The great joy in playing Crumpin-Fox is how the holes are secluded from one another. Too many public courses are often shoe-horned in to the point of suffocation. The hard woods that frame many of the holes are set an appropriate distance from choking off the fairways and provide a clear sense in being out in the country.
The new front nine sports a few holes of note -- most especially the long par-5 8th. It's a stunning hole -- no artifice here and simply blends in very well with the existing site.
The inner half of holes is clearly the better of the two sides. Moving in one direction and then going in a different manner with constant adjustments made of the golfer. The uphill approach to the long par-4 16th is a first class challenge. Hitting the fairway is an absolute must to keep the possibility in making par realistic.
The issue I have Crumpin-Fox is the overall consistency in the design. There are a number of fine holes but there's also a number of holes which are merely filler. There's also a design issue with the larger-than-life features which sometimes superimpose themselves upon the site. Massachusetts is a very competitive golf State and it's likely no public course can crack The Bay State's top ten because the depth of the layouts is simply that good. Crumpin-Fox gives the non-affiliated golfer a worthy day of golf and the connection to Mother Nature is an added benefit. If the two nines were of equal quality there's no doubt my overall assessment would have been higher.
If anything, Crumpin-Fox opened the door for Rulewich to make his own mark with even better efforts at Saratoga National in New York and Ballyowen in New Jersey. Truth be told, Rulewich deserves the lion's share of attention for his work with several of the courses encompassing the Alabama Golf Trail although he was still under the banner of Trent Jones. Without question, Crumpin-Fox is certainly worth a visit for anyone venturing either north or southbound via I-91.
M. James Ward