We were afforded, then took, the opportunity to review Gillette Ridge because the Tracker known as Due' Passe' (2Steps) was gracious enough to share his 2-for-1 voucher; allowing Sherpa JB, Rabbit Ears, and Golfer Number Two to play some cut-rate golf at this fine course, which was uncharted territory for most in our group. Free golf is always best, but the opportunity to beat this course into submission at half price satisfied both our curiosity and and the Goat Tracker Value Proposition.
Layout... In General:
We highly recommend playing Gillette Ridge during Autumn; not so much because of the scenic foliage, view of the Heublein Tower, etc, but rather because it provides an excellent opportunity to turn over some inventory and rid your bag of every random golf ball you may have picked up over the summer, before you clean and put your clubs away for the winter (if you even bother). Gillette Ridge provides a variety of ways in which to do this: ponds, marshy areas, schmeg pits, thick grassy knolls, woods; all aided by some quirky slopes, blind shots, etc. Pick a way to lose a ball and Gillette will accommodate.
On the schmeg pit front, the portion of the course on the north side of Cottage Grove Road reminded Golfer Number Two of South Florida and/or Bayou Country. Causeway central, which is pretty cool in a GT way. There are thousands of feet of low-slung railroad tie bridges with shallow footings to get you through Gillette's lowlands, otherwise known as places you won't find an errant shot.
Another layout highlight, as noted by Due' Passe' was 'serenity on the course.' Paraphrasing his comments, "I can't believe how quiet it is here with these houses right on the course. I'm used to hearing neighbors screaming at all hours, with an occasional domestic disturbance call mixed in." Then the obvious sunk in, "A gated community just isn't the same as Hard Hittin' New Britain, is it?"
The Gallery (#14, we think) : Since Gillette Ridge borders on and gets much of its seasonal staffing from the University of Hartford, it stands to reason that there'd be some students lounging behind their condo, watching us launch some errant shots. The conversation, although not well-documented, apparently boiled down to, "We just like chillin' in the back yard, watchin' some slash and burn." We weren't expecting a MENSA meeting and we weren't disappointed.
Other Layout Minutiae We seemed to have lost track with all the lost balls and whatnot, but it doesn't matter much which hole the co-gen sub-station is on (we think it's on #16, pictured below left), it's just great that it's there; just part of "the corporate campus." There are probably some underground bunkers, too.
Stonehenge (#17, pictured above right): We highly encourage Nigel Tufnel to play Gillette Ridge, if for no other reason than to witness Stone Hedge on a golf course. Nothing built to 18" x 24" scale here; just some large rocks that probably left the guy working the equipment scratching his head and/or laughing his ass off.
Challenging as it may be, the best thing about Gillette's layout is that it gives you a breather, just before you feel like chucking your sticks onto Cottage Grove Road and waiting for an 18-car pile-up or, if you're more pensive, leaving them out at the curb on garbage day.
The 19th: We could probably find a better way to describe it, but why? It just oozes class. If you happen to play Gillette on a weekday, finish your round around lunchtime or happy hour, and are a fan of the actuarial sciences, possibly seeking other like-minded people for lively discussion, then... as we were told by our bartender, you are most definitely in the right place. With the CIGNA and MetLife offices in the middle of the course layout, this finishing hole gets a lot of non-golfer activity. There aren't too other many companies we can think of that have an on-campus gin mill; correction, "meeting and luncheon area."
In Summary: We were hoping to rate Gillette Ridge against the nearby Tower Ridge GC (which was reviewed prior to the 4 GT logo rating system being implemented), but it's a tough comparison. As far as non-Goat Tracks go, Sherpa JB probably summed up the Gillette Ridge experience best when he said, "This is a great course to play...once a year"
We won't encumber Gillette Ridge with a GT logo rating; not much point, really.