Connecticut is home of two of the largest casinos in the United States, both of which host their own golf courses. The Lake of Isles complex is associated with the Foxwoods Casino, while Mohegan Sun has its own fairway escape for the non-gambler. Located far up the river from its title casino, Mohegan Sun (formerly known as Pautipug) was designed by golf course architect Geoffrey Cornish who, for his reputation as a historian of the game, brought a more modern approach to this route.
Understanding perhaps that casino guests live by a “go big or go home” attitude, the par fives are the star of the show and—appropriately—the first three all offer the chance to gamble strokes in an attempt to reach the putting surface in two. No. 5 will require at least one lay up for big hitters, as the brook crossing the fairway is simply uncrossable. At just 505 yards, the green is more than open to a well-struck second, however.
At the very next hole, players can try to cut a well-bunkered dogleg without rolling off the fairway. If they succeed, the green is well within reach...if you can cross the creek that falls into the lake down below. No. 13 is more straightforward: Can you cross the wide creek in two on this 510-yard hole, or can’t you? The final hole, at 540 yards, is closer to a true three-shot hole for the average golfer.
The three prior reviews capture the essence of Mohegan Sun Golf Club accurately. Pautipaug’s previous design was altogether straightforward. The most recent renovation has made a major difference, forcing the player to be thoughtful and creative with shot shaping, particularly off the tee.
This is best demonstrated by the many holes where landing zones are stunted by hazards exactly where players would wish to place a drive. Fairways are awkwardly pinched by bunkers (2, 5, 10, 12, 14-16), streams (5), and ponds (5, 10, 18) throughout the round. On virtually any tee shot, successfully overcoming any of these intrusions may result in a full-stroke advantage, while succumbing to their challenges will almost always lead to a bogey or worse.
While Mohegan Sun Golf Club has certainly come a long way from its roots, the course is not on the same level as its nearby casino peers. It is not the most accessible geographically nor for cost, though its choice to reopen as a public course is commendable. It is worth a stop if staying at the resort.
Echoing what Doug and Steve have mentioned -- the golf found at Mohegan Sun is more of side attraction meant to compliment the gaming provided. In sum -- architectural mavens wanting a golf experience that will really get the golf juices flowing will be disappointed and therefore should head elsewhere.
Geoffrey Cornish was noted for many designs located throughout the greater New England area and the style of architecture found here clearly encompasses that style. The sad part is that while the routing does work well, it is the general lack of design details for the bulk of the putting surfaces and their surrounding areas which is devoid of consistent meaningful interest.
Steve also correctly noted course grooming because saturating the course with water means the style of play is geared primarily through the air.
Mohegan Sun provides a golf diversion for those needing to stretch their legs from being within the walls of the casino. Satisfactory yes -- but certainly not memorable.
M. James Ward
Mohegan Sun is a course I have had the pleasure of playing before and after the purchase by the Casino. It is in better shape now but I'm not certain it is a better course now. There are a few holes which are head scratchers. Especially par 5's which restrict your drive. Overall it is a good day out and sits in a scenic area. It's not as nice as either of the Lake of Isles Foxwoods courses.
The most fun at Mohegan Sun comes early in the round with back to back par 5s at the 5th and 6th. Both are short, 505 and 495 from the back tees, but both provide strategic choices from the tee. At the 5th, the player is confronted with a creek running diagonally across the fairway (think the 6th at Essex County or the 7th at Sedgefield). The 6th provides the option of carrying a bunker at the corner of the dogleg. In each case, a risky drive can yield the reward of getting home in two. Both holes would have met the approval of C.B. Macdonald or his acolytes—Seth Raynor and Charles Banks. The diagonal creek was the primary feature at their template Leven hole. The green at the 6th, though elevated, is a smaller version of their Biarritz.
Tee shot strategy is present on 5 other holes (1, 9, 11, 12, and 15) as well. And the undulations of the 6th green are seen again at the 3rd, 7th, 12th and 17th.
Despite these appealing features, there are some negatives here. Conditioning is poor, as unrepaired ballmarks, unreplaced divots, and unraked bunkers are common…..along with too many bare spots in the fairways. The course is heavily watered and even in a dry summer did not play firm and fast. And the greens without undulations are generally flat, though often sloped, I’d guess the 13th has a 5% slope. Both factors contribute to slow greens.