Designed by Roger Rulewich, the semi-private layout at Fox Hopyard is a sister golf course to Fox Hollow in Florida and Crumpin-Fox in Massachusetts, all three of which are owned by businessman Bill Sandri.
The fairways are laid out on fairly hilly terrain – particularly on the front nine, where several holes rise or fall dramatically – and the course is sufficiently tight enough in places to warrant caution off the tee with a club other than the driver.
The design throws up a few risk-reward opportunities, such as at the short par four 6th hole, where golfers can select how much of the expanse of wetlands they want to carry in order to shorten the approach to the green.The five par threes on the card are all outstanding one-shotters, with the 202-yard 4th dropping a spectacular 90 feet from the tee to a well-protected green and the 249-yard 16th playing to a 50-yard long multi-tiered putting surface.
Growing up in central Connecticut, most public (and private) golf options were courses built in the middle of the 20th century. In general, these parkland style layouts were designed with minimal earth moved, and were compressed in property with holes running against one another. As one of the first modern routings I had ever played, Fox Hopyard left a big impression on me, breaking my notion of a ‘normal’ course.
Situated deep in the woods of eastern Middlesex County, Fox Hopyard’s design stands out with individual hole corridors and unique, man-made hazards and humps lining its fairways. Exceptionally maintained, the course plays over and through a range of landforms with a variety of long/short, hilly/flat, and other diverse setups. Having played 200+ courses since those early years, Fox Hopyard does not still stand out to me today, and in some ways, feels a bit manufactured. However, it remains one of the top courses in the greater southern Connecticut River Valley and can be a great value, depending on the price.
Among the more notable holes at Fox Hopyard include:
• #2: The front nine plays up and over a massive ridge on the property, and the second hole is like the start of a roller coaster heading straight up the hill. The somewhat tilted and tiered fairway provides interest off the tee, especially since the right half (which is generally harder to hit) allows for a superior angle into the green.
• #4: Plummeting almost 100 feet from tee to green, the par three 4th is an absolute blast. Interesting pot bunkers guard this “T” shaped green on the front, and dialing in the proper yardage can take many rounds to master.
• #6: As mentioned above, the tee shot at the 6th plays over Cranberry Meadow Creek and players must determine how much to bite off. In fact, what makes the hole most interesting is another three pronged putting surface. On some days, the best angle into the green would involve playing very safe well over the creek to the far edge of the fairway, while others would require a more aggressive drive.
• #7: The fairway at this par four is incredibly unique, shaped like a candy cane. While one can play aggressively toward the part which curls back, the strategically sound option for most pin placements is actually toward the longer stretch.
• #15: The back nine at Fox Hopyard is built over flatter, swampy land, but one exceptional hole is the par five 15th. The tee shot demands a left-to-right shot shape through a forested area, at which point the hole bends right and opens up to farmland. From there, a player can attempt to blast it over wetlands to the green in two, or lay up with the opposite shot shape. This hole never ceases to excite as it offers a wide range of options, landscapes, and favors no one skillset.
Despite a handful of strategically interesting holes at Fox Hopyard, many others are forgettable. While the undulations and contours of the greens can be captivating, the complexes themselves also lacked variety. Most had a similar shape, and none offered a run up option, making the course an absolute bear from start to finish with many repetitive aerial iron plays.
Even so, one cannot deny that Fox Hopyard’s beautiful conditioning and natural setting are unmatched in this part of the state. While prices can sometimes be high, you can find deals to play online from time-to-time. Fox Hopyard left a big impression on me when I started in my golf journey, and it certainly may do the same for you if you find yourself in the area.
Fox Hopyard is a nice public course in CT. The course starts out with a par 4 slight dog leg right. There is adequate play area as the hole parts trees on both sides. 2 is a big hole. A par 4 up a large hill which also tilts left a bit. The green is raised up with bunkers protecting all entries. The green is sloped dramatically. Par here is well earned. 3 is a par 5 with a forced carry to a rising hill and a semi blind 2nd shot. The green is tucked in behind a large sloped small valley so your second must stay left to avoid that. the 4th is a par 3 severely down hill. Very scenic with a 70 foot drop. The various tee boxes play along the hill top ranging about 90 degrees of different angles for the shot. the 5th is a down hill par 5 with a fall off to the right into trees and fairway bunkers left. A creek resides at about 100 yards from the green. It's a solid risk reward hole. 6 is a devilish hole. It is a forced carry to a fairway which is mostly 90 degrees as it approaches the green to your left. I might call it a CAPE. The big hitter can about drive it. For everyone else unless you play forward tees it is a good 200 forced carry. 7 is a par 4 that presents a pond forced carry to a fairway that ends short of a waste area at 150ish. A lay up is most likely the best play. The green sits with a bunker left and right and is quite deep. 8 is a scenic par 3 with a forced carry pond to traverse to a green sitting 10 feet above the pond with a sloped hill short. 9 is a straight away par 4 with waste area ahead and left. The terrain tilts slightly left so your play should lean right as the green is much better to approach from that angle as a large bunker is left and short. There is one right too but more manageable. 10 is much like 1 as it is right along side it. They are quite similar. 11 is a par 3 again with a forced carry to a green with a pond short. This one has no turf though short of the green unless you go left. 12 is my favorite hole. It is a big par 4. The fairway seems quite wide and there is a waste area from the green to about 120 out. The green is not deep and is quite wide, as much as 60 yards wide. 13 is another strong par 4 with a waste area to the right and a forced carry tee shot. Once in play the 2nd is to another well bunkered green which requires good aim and precise distance. 14 is a par 3 which is flat and long. The green sits seemingly blind as most of it is below eye level. A bunker defines the mid front. 15 is par 5 with a gently sloping field of play left to right with fairway bunkers left and waste area/trees right. The green is raised and over a creek that is diagonal from 100 to the right to 50 short to the left. 16 is a challenging long par 3. The green slopes right to left a bunker is short and left and another long and right. Thread that opening to a large green. 17 is my 2nd favorite hole. A big par 4 with a wide open playing area but length dictates as straight an approach as possible. The terrain slopes quite a bit right to left with fairway bunkers on the right, The green sits raised with deep bunkers short. 18 is a par 5 which requires you to bisect a pond which is short left and another which comes into play on the right from 300 off tee all the way to the green. It's a good finish.
The course is demanding and requires well executed shots or will penalize you. The only rub I have with the course is that it is usually spongy and the turf tears apart quite easily. It is well worth playing if in the area. It is very scenic and always in good shape. One of the top places you can play in CT.