Designed by Tim Liddy with Pete Dye in 2005, the 18-hole layout at Wintonbury Hills is set in Bloomfield, to the north west of Hartford, and it’s one of the best municipal golf courses in all of New England. Several of the holes are laid out close to the Bloomfield reservoir and the course moves effortlessly through eighty acres of wetlands and forest, across environmentally sensitive terrain that required extensive pre-construction permitting.
Featuring three par fives and five par threes, the layout measures a sensible 6,711 yards from the back tees and it plays to a par of 70. One of the feature holes on the course arrives at the 455-yard par four 14th, which plays along the town’s water retention reservoir.Wintonbury Hills was designed as a walking golf course for the public, with greens and tees placed in close proximity and it quickly gained rave reviews from a number of publications after it first opened for business, prompting Bloomfield Town Manager Lou Chapman to comment: “Since opening, the response from rating organizations, media and the golfing public has been tremendous… we’re absolutely thrilled.”
Those attempting the New England Tour de Dye in New England only need to book one night at a Hartford hotel, as the Connecticut town hosts both of the designer's efforts in the region (is Pound Ridge proper New England? Forgive us if so). And between those two courses, one will get two very different sides of Dye. While TPC River Highlands reflects the more exotic edge more often associated with Pete, Wintonbury Hills takes the strategy—and price point—back to the municipal golfer. Reportedly completing the design for $1, Dye kept the bunkers small and the fairways fat, rewarding angles more than carries. The trio of Par 4s from 14-16 are a reminder how much variety can be accomplished with minimal bunkering and nary a dogleg. But, despite lesson in simplicity, Dye devotees will embrace the Par 3 ninth. Although fronted by three pot bunkers that shift strategy daily, the volcano bunker cluster that serves as a backdrop / practice area reveals a designer who just couldn't help himself. One notable downside is a sense of deja vu from Nos. 1-4 and 10-13; although each series is fine on its own, the repetition in routing makes the latter stretch a touch more boring than its design would otherwise deserve.