Located next to the Foxwoods Resort Casino, said to be the second largest of its kind in the United States, the South course at Lake of Isles is the private 18-hole layout at an upmarket 36-hole golf complex designed by Rees Jones. Both the North and South courses are routed around a 90-acre lake, with several holes on each layout touching its shores.
Opened for membership in 2005, the South course can be stretched to a massive 7,359 yards, playing to a very strong slope index of 140 and a rating of 75.8 (against a par of 72) from the back tees. It’s laid on out on a rolling landscape where wetland areas and rocky outcrops come into play from time to time.
Feature holes on the front nine include the 440-yard 2nd, which doglegs left across a couple of marshy areas, and the 433-yard 9th, where the tee shot is played across another wetland area to a fairway veering left towards a greens that’s protected by sand on either side of the putting surface.
On the inward half, two of the more memorable holes are water-threatened par threes: the peninsula green at the 165-yard 11th juts out into the lake and the putting surface of the 230-yard 16th sits behind an inlet on the same body of water. The short par four 13th is another fine hole on the back nine, its severely rumpled fairway slanting left to a lovely infinity green.
My golf journey began as a teenager in Connecticut. With wonderful junior golf events sponsored by the CSGA, I was very fortunate to play some of the state’s best courses. The South Course at Lake of Isles (LOI) is certainly a standout.
Located at the Foxwoods Resort in the southeastern portion of the state, both LOI courses were carved out of dense forests, a massive lake, and lush swamplands. If you enjoy the feeling of being completely “lost” in the wilderness when playing golf, then this is absolutely your type of course. You will be hard pressed to find more beautiful foliage on a golf course in Connecticut than you will experience at LOI. Of course, this is accomplished in a truly luxurious environment, too. With incredible amenities and world-class resort funding, the LOI courses are exceptionally well-manicured. The South is the private course on the property.
Among the most memorable holes at LOI-South include:
• #2: Early in the round, the course earns its namesake with this strong par four playing to an island fairway, and then again over another ravine to the green.
• #4: This long par three set far into the woods has some Redan-esque qualities.
• #8: The long par five 8th is unabashedly beastly. With gorgeous views of the resort from the tee, the player faces peril at every twist and turn through this 600 yard monster. These include a steep ravine that runs down the entire left side of the hole, thick forest to the right, random patches of swampy waste also down the right, and a constricting, narrow fairway as you approach the green. While not the most welcoming to players of all abilities, this hole is a memorable test of length and accuracy.
• #9: The fairway on this hole plays diagonally to the player, requiring a right-to-left shot shape over swamp. The fairway is pinched at the most aggressive line by a strategic bunker, adding extra challenge for low handicappers.
• #10: Architecturally, the 10th at LOI-South is quite unique. The fairway is actually wishbone shaped (!!) with a swampy patch of bushes protruding outward from the green. A strange kidney shaped chipping area is also located beyond the green. The extreme width of this fairway creates fascinating playing angles and departs from virtually any other hole on the course stylistically. For me, this hole was always a blast to experience.
• #11: A bunkerless, do-or-die island green that is among the finest of its kind which I have played.
• #13: This shortish par four fits the naturally sloping right-to-left land perfectly, and a smart player can gain significant yards with the properly played drive.
• #16: Once again set on the lake, the par three 16th has a unique hump which sticks out from the mainland. Lucky shots can play off this patch of rough for a safe bounce onto the green, while others may be rejected into the water.
• #18: Similar to #10, the finisher at LOI-South departs from the typically framed hole corridors with a massive fairway and bunker strategically placed right in the middle. The proper angle is essential to have a shot at landing your approach close.
The conditions at LOI-South are expectedly fantastic, and there is solid variety in terms of hole lengths, shot shapes required, and approaches which require aerial versus ground shots. The stretch from #8 - #11, in my opinion, is among the best in the state and probably New England.
With that said, LOI-South lacks in same categories as its public, North counterpart. Generally bland bunkering, and a handful holes which feel like they could be anywhere are present throughout the round. While I appreciate the architecturally unique features on some tee and approach shots, I cannot recall a single standout green complex. Given its extreme length, I would find it hard to enjoy playing at LOI-South every single day.
In short, if you receive an invitation to play at LOI-South and you also happen to be close and/or planning to make a trip out of it to the resort, hop on the opportunity immediately. From an architecture standpoint, it is not the type of course I personally would place high on my bucket list.
Lake of Isles South, the private course, is virtually identical to the public course. If you played them both back to back the only differing memory would be the last hole. The par 3's which go into the lake are the same. The terrain is the same. The conditioning is very good and the same. They are both challenging for anyone. They can both play well over 7000 yards. The turf is normally pretty soft so they play to full distance. Overall if you are in the area these courses are quite nice and you should play. The North is usually mobbed, and candidly the South has much play too. Mostly VIP guests and their guests.