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Grassmere CC, Enfield (originally reviewed June 2009, host course for the GT British Experience in... )

Grassmere's website raised some eyebrows with the GT folks by leading off with "Grassmere Country Club is the perfect location for your wedding, special event or corporate outing!"  Hold on just a minute!  Somehow the cart got in front of the horse...and it wasn't even a golf cart.  How could a 9-hole course possibly tout itself as a wedding/banquet facility and more importantly, why would that take top billing over golf?  We were reminded of the amusement park scene in "This is Spinal Tap," and the memorable line, "I've told them a hundred times, put 'Spinal Tap' first and 'puppet show' last."  Naturally, our curiosity was piqued and a trip to Enfield to play 9 at Grassmere was inevitable.

The Grassmere Review

Signage:  If you can spot the sign pointing to the course from Broad Brook Road, you're home free.  The thought here seems to be that since the clubhouse is visible from the road, another sign would just be redundant.  We respect that.  There is, however, a more useful "tee times available" sign at the entrance, to let you know when you're about to drive past the course,  which makes sense.  Both subtle and effective.

Parking Lot:  A true stroke of genius; paved, but unstriped.  Hawk's Landing could learn something from this inspired design feature.

Pro Shop:  Probably didn't pay enough attention here, possibly due to the fact that the register for paying greens fees is right next to the door, so you can get in and out quickly, which makes Grassmere stand apart from other Tracks we frequent.  There's not a bunch of merchandise cluttering the area either, so it lends itself to the same type of "drop step, pivot, order, and retrieve a beer" move that can only be duplicated at Airways.  No wasted time.  No wasted effort.  Outstanding.  That, combined with the most cheerful and helpful person we've run into in a pro shop in eons,  made this an uncommonly pleasant experience.

Moving onto the course, the gazebo and manicured flowering shrubs behind the first tee quickly put to bed the notion that Grassmere could be considered Goat Track material using our standard criteria, but it was still unknown whether it might qualilfy based on the "other criteria" used to grant Hawk's Landing Goat Track of the Year status in 2008.

Layout:  Consistent with the "no sign policy" in front of the clubhouse, there are no signs on the tee boxes either; however, they're not really necessary if you just follow the cart path around the course.  This was a refreshing change from some of the navigational clusteramas we've experienced at other Tracks.  The only tee box that was remotely difficult to find (in sequence) was #6, which was tucked back in a corner behind a pond and that brief search kept us on our toes.  Well done.

Cement yardage markers flush to the ground on the tee boxes make carrying a scorecard to check hole distances completely optional, which works pretty well for match play.  Another sight rarely seen in our travels was the matching shrubs at the 150 yard markers, easily visible from off the fairway, for those who prefer to take more challenging approach shots.

Tee Boxes & Fairways:  While it shouldn't be surprising to see tee boxes that haven't been beaten to a pulp, it was.  It almost defied logic as to how they could have so much grass without any sand/seed containers nearby.  The most noticeable/striking feature of the fairways to the seasoned Goat Tracker was that the edges of the rough were easily distinguishable from the fairways.  Can't stress enough the importance of contrast....and grass, for that matter.  The only Track-like feature of the fairways at Grassmere is that they're very enticing for some grip & rip because they're pretty wide for the most part; so much so that they inspired two thoughts:  1) anyone who's agoraphobic may have a problem playing here and 2) Elaine's quote from the "pothole episode" of Seinfeld, "Hey, look at this.  Wide lanes.  This is so luxurious.  Woo..yeah," while she was on mile 114 of the Arthur Berkhardt Expressway (adopted by Kramer).  The only downside of this setup is that the rough is also pretty wide, so the Tracker accustomed to looking for his drive in the next fairway may spend more time looking for it in the rough, unless he can really snap one sideways.

Greens:  In terms of speed, the greens at Grassmere fall into a category you don't want to play either just before or after you've played a true Goat Track.  Probably good for three strokes added to your score, based on putts that will either sail by the hole or be miserably short, depending on which speed adjustment you're trying to make.  The first par-3, #5, has some serious undulations to it, which makes for some nasty pin placements, but overall the greens have the amount of break we'd expect according to the "Universal Truth of Goat Track Putting," i.e., none.

Bunkers:  Didn't get to experience any first hand, mainly because there aren't many.  Two greenside bunkers appeared to have been filled in on the 1st hole and there aren't any fairway traps to speak of.  With any luck, we'll hit into a few on a future visit and be able to provide an update.

Water Hazards:  Not much to report here, either.  Mainly just a brook that runs throughought the course, similar to the one at Brooklyn CC, occasionally opening up into some marshy areas on #5 and #6.  Given the limited amount of water and the maximum amount of reed-filled areas sprouting from them, two thumbs up.

Track Management Highlights:
1)  #2:  Airmail.  There's only about 20 feet, if that, on the downslope behind the green before your shot ends up buried in poison ivy; another 15 - 20 feet before it's bouncing across the road.  Best not to be long here.

2) A good mix of deciduous and evergreen trees in the rough, offering opportunities to display Track Acumen with a variety of approach angles and trajectories.

Other Track Features:

"The House on the Hill."  We've seen lots of houses bordering courses, but few as strategically located as the one between the 3rd green and 4th tee at Grassmere.  Apparently the people living there are well aware of this too, since there are two golf carts parked in the driveway.  Truly inspiring to see this in Enfield, as opposed to Florida or Arizona.





"Ringin' the Bell."  On the dogleg right 6th hole, we appreciated the bell hanging next to the bridge over the brook cutting across the corner (to let the group on the tee know it's ok to hit), since we haven't seen one in a while.





"Side Out."  The only course we've been to with a volleyball net near the clubhouse.  Pretty impressive, maybe even better than the cricket fields across from the 10th hole at Keney or the horseshoe pits near the clubhouse at the GT.








In summary, Grassmere provides a pretty good experience for both Trackers and non-Trackers alike, even though, or maybe because, it lacks true Goat Track conditions.  We can't overstate how difficult a feat this is to pull off.  As such, we rate the course a very respectable  out of 4 GT logos and look forward to playing it again.

The Grassmere Review

Signage:  If you can spot the sign pointing to the course from Broad Brook Road, you're home free.  The thought here seems to be that since the clubhouse is visible from the road, another sign would just be redundant.  We respect that.  There is, however, a more useful "tee times available" sign at the entrance, to let you know when you're about to drive past the course,  which makes sense.  Both subtle and effective.

Parking Lot:  A true stroke of genius; paved, but unstriped.  Hawk's Landing could learn something from this inspired design feature.

Pro Shop:  Probably didn't pay enough attention here, possibly due to the fact that the register for paying greens fees is right next to the door, so you can get in and out quickly, which makes Grassmere stand apart from other Tracks we frequent.  There's not a bunch of merchandise cluttering the area either, so it lends itself to the same type of "drop step, pivot, order, and retrieve a beer" move that can only be duplicated at Airways.  No wasted time.  No wasted effort.  Outstanding.  That, combined with the most cheerful and helpful person we've run into in a pro shop in eons,  made this an uncommonly pleasant experience.

Moving onto the course, the gazebo and manicured flowering shrubs behind the first tee quickly put to bed the notion that Grassmere could be considered Goat Track material using our standard criteria, but it was still unknown whether it might qualilfy based on the "other criteria" used to grant Hawk's Landing Goat Track of the Year status in 2008.

Layout:  Consistent with the "no sign policy" in front of the clubhouse, there are no signs on the tee boxes either; however, they're not really necessary if you just follow the cart path around the course.  This was a refreshing change from some of the navigational clusteramas we've experienced at other Tracks.  The only tee box that was remotely difficult to find (in sequence) was #6, which was tucked back in a corner behind a pond and that brief search kept us on our toes.  Well done.

Cement yardage markers flush to the ground on the tee boxes make carrying a scorecard to check hole distances completely optional, which works pretty well for match play.  Another sight rarely seen in our travels was the matching shrubs at the 150 yard markers, easily visible from off the fairway, for those who prefer to take more challenging approach shots.

Tee Boxes & Fairways:  While it shouldn't be surprising to see tee boxes that haven't been beaten to a pulp, it was.  It almost defied logic as to how they could have so much grass without any sand/seed containers nearby.  The most noticeable/striking feature of the fairways to the seasoned Goat Tracker was that the edges of the rough were easily distinguishable from the fairways.  Can't stress enough the importance of contrast....and grass, for that matter.  The only Track-like feature of the fairways at Grassmere is that they're very enticing for some grip & rip because they're pretty wide for the most part; so much so that they inspired two thoughts:  1) anyone who's agoraphobic may have a problem playing here and 2) Elaine's quote from the "pothole episode" of Seinfeld, "Hey, look at this.  Wide lanes.  This is so luxurious.  Woo..yeah," while she was on mile 114 of the Arthur Berkhardt Expressway (adopted by Kramer).  The only downside of this setup is that the rough is also pretty wide, so the Tracker accustomed to looking for his drive in the next fairway may spend more time looking for it in the rough, unless he can really snap one sideways.

Greens:  In terms of speed, the greens at Grassmere fall into a category you don't want to play either just before or after you've played a true Goat Track.  Probably good for three strokes added to your score, based on putts that will either sail by the hole or be miserably short, depending on which speed adjustment you're trying to make.  The first par-3, #5, has some serious undulations to it, which makes for some nasty pin placements, but overall the greens have the amount of break we'd expect according to the "Universal Truth of Goat Track Putting," i.e., none.

Bunkers:  Didn't get to experience any first hand, mainly because there aren't many.  Two greenside bunkers appeared to have been filled in on the 1st hole and there aren't any fairway traps to speak of.  With any luck, we'll hit into a few on a future visit and be able to provide an update.

Water Hazards:  Not much to report here, either.  Mainly just a brook that runs throughought the course, similar to the one at Brooklyn CC, occasionally opening up into some marshy areas on #5 and #6.  Given the limited amount of water and the maximum amount of reed-filled areas sprouting from them, two thumbs up.

Track Management Highlights:
1)  #2:  Airmail.  There's only about 20 feet, if that, on the downslope behind the green before your shot ends up buried in poison ivy; another 15 - 20 feet before it's bouncing across the road.  Best not to be long here.

2) A good mix of deciduous and evergreen trees in the rough, offering opportunities to display Track Acumen with a variety of approach angles and trajectories.

Other Track Features:

"The House on the Hill."  We've seen lots of houses bordering courses, but few as strategically located as the one between the 3rd green and 4th tee at Grassmere.  Apparently the people living there are well aware of this too, since there are two golf carts parked in the driveway.  Truly inspiring to see this in Enfield, as opposed to Florida or Arizona.





"Ringin' the Bell."  On the dogleg right 6th hole, we appreciated the bell hanging next to the bridge over the brook cutting across the corner (to let the group on the tee know it's ok to hit), since we haven't seen one in a while.





"Side Out."  The only course we've been to with a volleyball net near the clubhouse.  Pretty impressive, maybe even better than the cricket fields across from the 10th hole at Keney or the horseshoe pits near the clubhouse at the GT.








In summary, Grassmere provides a pretty good experience for both Trackers and non-Trackers alike, even though, or maybe because, it lacks true Goat Track conditions.  We can't overstate how difficult a feat this is to pull off.  As such, we rate the course a very respectable  out of 4 GT logos and look forward to playing it again.

Grassmere CC, Enfield (originally reviewed June 2009, host course for the GT British Experience in... )

Grassmere's website raised some eyebrows with the GT folks by leading off with "Grassmere Country Club is the perfect location for your wedding, special event or corporate outing!"  Hold on just a minute!  Somehow the cart got in front of the horse...and it wasn't even a golf cart.  How could a 9-hole course possibly tout itself as a wedding/banquet facility and more importantly, why would that take top billing over golf?  We were reminded of the amusement park scene in "This is Spinal Tap," and the memorable line, "I've told them a hundred times, put 'Spinal Tap' first and 'puppet show' last."  Naturally, our curiosity was piqued and a trip to Enfield to play 9 at Grassmere was inevitable.