A 27-hole facility, the Red and Blue nines at the Hartford Golf Club are often combined to form the premier 18-hole course. That’s not to say that the 9-hole Green circuit is any way inferior, however. Donald Ross gets the main design credit here but a number of architects have had a hand in shaping the course, including Devereux Emmet. In more recent times Bruce Hepner completed a bunker and tee renovation in 2017.
The 407-yard 7th on the Red nine is one of the stronger par fours on that circuit, with drives to the corner of the dogleg threatened by a creek that wanders diagonally across the fairway. On the Blue nine, the three visually intimidating fairway cross-bunkers at the 450-yard 4th provide plenty of food for thought for golfers on the tee.Established in 1896, Hartford celebrated its centenary by hosting the USGA Mid-Amateur Championship in 1996 then the 60th edition of the US Girls’ Junior Championship was held at the club in 2008, a year after an extensive renovation of the clubhouse.
The year after Spider Miller won the first of his two US Mid-Amateur crowns, Hartford GC invited him back for a visit. The club offered to pay travel expenses for Spider and his wife. Reminding them that he owned a beer distribution company in the college town of Bloomingtom IN, he indicated that their largesse would be unnecessary with the rhetorical question, “Do you think those kids drink out much beer?”
The USGA elected to play the Red and Blue nines, skipping the club’s third (Green) nine. That’s the same configuration I played. My experience was perhaps not as enjoyable as Spider’s. Though Donald Ross is the architect of record, this is not one of my favorite Ross works. Ross’s usual fine routing is not in evidence. Only two holes run in a north-south direction and there are multiple times where there’s an unintuitive and long walk to the next tee. The predominance of east-west holes tends to make them less memorable. There are a few charming greens, most notably the last two on the Blue nine. The rest are less imaginative and were quite slow the day I played.
Definitely a fun course, but there are more interesting Ross designs in New England.
Have you played Hartford GC's neighbor and rival Tumble Brook CC? I'm surprised to see it not on this site. It's a 27-hole layout with 9s from three architects. Good variety and a solid strategic course.