Owned and operated by the town of Groton’s Parks and Recreation Department, Shennecossett Golf Course is the only public Donald Ross layout in the Constitution State. Apart from three new holes added in 1997, the layout’s unchanged in nearly a century.
My playing partner, a longtime resident, took the time to point, from atop No. 16's crowned green, across the Thames River at two separate lighthouses, each haunted by its own ghost. A more benevolent spirit lingers around Shennecossett's property, that of designer Donald Ross. Nothing is better proof of this than the very "turtleback" green we stood upon.
Ironically, Ross did not lay out the stretch from Nos. 15-17. They were added in 1997, after a land swap with a local pharmaceutical giant. The commitment to the Scot's legacy means his name appears frequently, and Tim Gerrish—the architect responsible for the fine three along the sound—is lucky to get a mention.
For a more historically-sound Ross primer, note how the designer uses deep, lengthy, and curvaceous bunkers (Nos. 5, 7, and 11) to make one rue what seemed like a good tee shot / lay-up at the the time (for some reason, our knowing playing partner chose not to share THIS information). No. 2 may not be particularly Rossish, but it packs Old World charm nonetheless, playing across a burn from the tee and hopefully stopping before fescued mounds, before presenting an approach shot over live train tracks to a tricky right-to-left green. Unfortunately, our aforementioned playing partner has only seen two trains cross in his 30 years.
The maintenance of the aforementioned bunkers is certainly better than the municipals in your correspondent's neck of the woods, and the greens are also admirable for the price point. Although the Par 3 at No. 4 is neither particularly fun nor fair, the crowned green 200 yards away at the top of a high hill is true-to-form (Arnold Palmer shared our opinion while stationed nearby). The Redan at No. 9 plays true to its purpose, however (if on the shortish side, at 175 yards). Although a touch short for good players (6,600 yards), that Shennecossett is maintained as a municipal at its rates is an admirable feather in Groton's cap.