Developed by the City of Danbury, Richter Park Golf Course is laid out on a hilly 180-acre property next to West Lake Reservoir and Boggs Pond, with elevation changes at just about every hole on the card.
Fairways on the front nine are routed around the reservoir with four of them actually playing over it. These holes require tee shots at the par three 3rd, the par three 5th, and the par five 7th to carry the water, as does the approach shot to the green on the par four 8th.
The terrain on the back nine is a good bit hillier as holes move westward in an anticlockwise direction from the clubhouse. The par five 12th is regarded as the signature hole with its peninsula green protruding into Boggs Pond but beware the right doglegged 18th, rated stroke index 2.
Richter Park is another one of those Muni local courses which is controlled by those locals. I have played here 4 times and each time it was a rattan death march. You see as an outsider you should just be grateful you get to play. So you will get an afternoon teetime and a 6 hour round. As so many of the locals prefer to walk and don't walk very fast and there are a few substantial green to tee walks. Overall the golf course is nice. There are some really great holes. A few blind tee balls. Some interesting par 3's. But candidly, Why would anyone go here if they weren't connected to playing with a local...Count me out. It's not worth it. Signature hole is a dogleg right par 5 with a huge hill out to the left with a severe sidehill which slopes down to a peninsula green jutting out into the resevoir. Best view of the day is on that green as you look out across the water to golf holes of Morefar the ultra private play area of the AIG to Starr Hank Greenberg.
In the early 1980's Golf Digest rated Richter Park among the best public courses in the United States. I remember my first round at the course not long after being posted in the magazine. The course does provide an above average experience but the positioning among the very best in America was a clear overreach even then. That gap has grown much, much wider when daily fee golf exploded with the massive numbers of golf course development in the United States during the 1990's.
Richter Park is located on rolling terrain and the holes are a mixture but there's nothing that cries out "compelling architecture."
In fact, the depth of quality public facilities just in the greater New York metro area -- which Richter is a part of -- has clearly surpassed what one finds here. That was even true when Richter was rated.
I've been back to Richter a number of times over the years and the course is a pleasant experience -- but the bar set by Digest years ago created an unreasonable assessment more likely tied to faulty field work carried out by the publication.
Richter Park would benefit immensely from a makeover -- getting a seasoned architect to go over what the layout has become since it opened in 1972. Such a review is not out of the ordinary for courses -- even public ones -- because the style and nature of what was created would certainly benefit from such an update.
A number of the bunkers and greens at Richter Park are simply pedestrian quality. Bunkers should have a clear role -- not in terms of quantity per se -- but in terms of positioning. The same holds true for putting greens -- giving them appropriate contours that add to the shotmaking when playing.
The terrain the course occupies is a wonderful asset and if a makeover is smartly done the overall improvement can be noticeable. But, when the course was rated as being among the very best in America it created an unfair expectation. I know that when I finished my first round at the course many years ago. Richter provides a clear recreational outlet and the citizens of Danbury should be proud to have such a golf component for their recreation. Those who head to play Richter should realize what it does provide -- and what it doesn't.
by M. James Ward
I just disagree with this person's assessment, that's all. I actually find it the most underrated course I have ever played. I am obsessed with rating and ranking golf courses, and I have been fortunate to play a little over 100 courses, including St. Andrews, Turnberry, Bethpage Black, Kiawah Ocean, Kapalua and Torrey Pines South. To me, Richter Park is one of the greatest courses, if not the greatest, I have ever played because of its sheer beauty. Hole 12 might be the prettiest hole I have ever played, and holes 3, 5, 7, and 8 are right up there. Every time I play that course, the natural beauty makes for ethereal and spiritual experience.