The Wampanoag Country Club, west of Hartford, features a Donald Ross design that seems to have suffered much "tinkering" since it opened nearly a century ago. Alterations annoyed a few members so much that they founded the Donald Ross Society during 1988 to protest the mutation of the master's classic designs.
Although a number of brooks provide visual stimulation throughout the round, few should be realistic foes for the competent golfer. There are a few exceptions, of course. One is the correctly-named “Dog Leg,” which requires a drive over the brook (easy) and then an approach over another stream to reach the green in regulation (not so easy).
Another interesting feature on this design is the back-to-back par fives that occur at Nos. 11 and 12. Although modern technology has made both reachable for the bigger hitter, it’s clear that the former was intended to be an eagle opportunity during its day (463 yards), while the latter would have been a more stiff challenge (510 yards). Today, players can go for the latter green in two, but their approach will be challenged by a large sand hazard that tightens the fairway, reminiscent of the infamous Hell bunker at St Andrews.
The stiffest test at the course, however, is No. 8 “Old Baldy,” a long par four (440 yards). If the hole is named for a grouchy founding member, the description matches the mood of the hole well.
Wampanoag is author Brad Klein’s home club who devoted several pages of his book Discovering Donald Ross to the development of the course. Klein termed much of the course changes down the years as “regrettable tinkering” so he’s been working on a Master Plan (along with architects Kyle Franz and Tyler Rae) which is due to be presented to the membership in early 2021.
Wampanoag is a course I have played many times. It is a nice Ross course with a great mix of holes.
The 1st hole is a straight away par 4 of average length. The green is challenging as it has a flat appearance but devilish contours within it.
The 2nd hole is a very challenging par 4 dogleg right. A stream cuts across the fairway and the green has a severe back to front slope.
The 3rd hole is a nice par 3. 2 separate tee areas are intact which allow for different angles on different days. It plays 180ish.
The 4th is the first par 5. A dogleg right with huge pine trees protecting the right and the player who wants to cut off some length. The green is well protected but is quite flat.
The 5th is a blind tee ball over a hill and plays as a slight dogleg right. The green is well protected and is diagonally positioned.
The 6th is a slight dog leg left par 5 which has a huge hill out at the 250 area. A big drive can find the bottom and cut off 50 yards.
The 7th comes back up that hill on 6 and has a thin green with a rise and deep front bunkers.
The 8th is maybe the toughest hole on the course. It's long par 4 with some moguls out on the right and a deep well protected green.
The 9th is a slightly up hill par 3 with a very deep green of kidney shape.
The 10th is a shorter par 4 with an elevated tee and a well bunkered green.
The 11th is a par 5 up a good hill with an elevated green with bunkers front and back.
The 12th is the last par 5 and is flat and straight with some rolling fairway. It's maybe the best scoring hole on the course.
The 13th is the toughest par 3 on the course. It plays 220 and has a severely sloped green.
The 14th is an elevated tee to a tight landing area with a brook left and short and then a sizable uphill climb to a difficult green.
The 15th is a very strong par 4 dogleg right with a stream which is right and cuts across and to the back left of the green
The 16th is a 150ish par 3 with green perched on a table top. accuracy is key.
The 17th is a great par 4 with a gentle dogleg right with the fairway sloped that way. Th green is uphill and is deep and somewhat blind.
The 18th is a magnificent finishing par 4. A stream is across the fairway and then a pond is just past that. An uphill approach of good length to a devilishly sloped green completes this course.
Wampanoag is a great day out. The course is quite nice and is situated on a rolling piece of property.