In summary: After having the opportunity to play through two groups and gather information from them: “They recently installed irrigation, really?” among the tidbits gathered, it all makes sense now. I learned a lot about Harrisville GC; mostly that it has a dedicated following, and rightly so. No one I encountered was in anything but a good mood. Sure, it’s easy to be in a good mood while golfing on a sunny late afternoon in October (beats being at work), but this Track seems to put folks in a better frame of mind and that is more than noteworthy.
Even though Harrisville GC is tucked away in the middle of nowhere, it has a deceptively good layout, if we're allowed to use that term, which we are, and is a blast to play. It would be highly recommended even if the “GT Value Proposition” didn’t kick in (which it does [Tracker-friendly rate], just factor out the travel time). To give the family-owned Harrisville GC anything less than a...
... out of 4 GT rating would be an insult.
Some Layout Highlights
Looking to peg up from the white tees? Don’t waste your time. There are none; just red, yellow, and blue. This wrinkle made it clear that The Harrisville Experience would be anything but predictable. We highly recommend playing from the “tips.” The blue tees check in at a respectable 2,900+ yards and the forward/yellow tees help keep things moving along.
#2 (uphill par-3): As long as you’re pin high, you can go about as wide right of the green as you’d like; short of that, you may be s.o.l. Pretty fair in our opinion. The boulders in the left greenside bunker offer a nice touch. Is there anything better than the opportunity for a carom shot pinging out of a trap that can land on the fringe and/or roll onto the green? Rhetorical question.
#3: by far our favorite Track Feature…until we saw the next one…the double fairway. Finally, a course that penalizes the drive into the middle. The picture at right certainly doesn’t do it justice, but the layout is nearly perfect. Take the high ground left, fine. Veer right, that’s fine, too. Just stay away from the middle, where there’s some rough and a bunker, if you’re going to bang it and stripe one off the tee. How this came to be in the original (1929) layout, I have no idea, but it’s pretty impressive.
#4: another, maybe even better, opportunity for Track Acumen. On second thought, it may be somewhat pedestrian to those accustomed to more challenging circumstances. It does bring to mind Dave Edmunds’ most remembered band, Rockpile, though. A smooth and well-constructed (3-foot high) stone wall that “encourages” low-screaming slices and ushers them back into “Position ‘A’ ” for scoring opportunities is something we greatly appreciate. A brilliant layout feature. On the other hand, the landing zone (fairway-ish) is kind of pea stone gravelly, so if you’re not playing preferred lies, it may just suck. Still, it’s better than hitting from the woods or across the street, which is where you may have ended up otherwise.
Greens: For such a hilly course, the greens at Harrisville GC are pretty flat…and Flat = Scoring Opportunities! This was the most fun we’ve had missing the cup in quite some time. They roll great (not necessarily fast, like that matters), which is an unusual experience on this front.
“19th” on a 9-hole course: The Harrisville experience is more about enjoying the ambience on the course than off of it. As for the pro shop/watering hole, time to dig out the thesaurus: rustic, retro, modest, unassuming…they don’t capture the essence of the concession nook next to the counter in the pro shop. All I can say is that I now know where my grandparents’ kitchen and living room furniture ended up after they upgraded in the early ‘80’s. Doesn’t get much homier than that. A few tables outside the pro shop provide somewhere to hang out, but the watering hole at Harrisville GC is certainly not the same type of “resort destination” as say, Southington Country Club, which is fine by us. Harrisville kicks it old school.
Harrisville GC (Woodstock) Reviewed October, 2011
If you’ve ever wanted to get away from it all, but thought that the middle of nowhere may not be far enough away, take an extra couple of right turns from there and you may just find yourself at Harrisville GC in Woodstock, Connecticut.
This Track was on the GT review list in 2010, but there were some navigational issues that prevented that from happening. They’ve since been addressed. After getting a glimpse of the course on a drive-by following a round at nearby Woodstock GC in 2010 (who’d have thunk it; two courses in the middle of nowhere?), Harrisville GC staunchly remained near the top of the GT Review to-do list.
On the Goat Track review front, we’ll almost always take the “best value in golf” bait like a trout chomps on a worm dangling from a #8 hook in a stocked pond and Harrisville GC was no exception. Even before seeing the “best value” pitch on the course’s website, we were intrigued.
Onto the GoatTrackGolf.com review of Harrisville GC
As you drive by the course, from the roadside Harrisville GC has all the earmarks of a forced march into the hillside (which some folks don’t seem to enjoy, we’re not among them); old pine tree lines, hilly terrain, etc. Right in our wheelhouse. We know better than to be too quick to judge. Sure, the first hole faces directly into the sun if you tee off in the afternoon and there are two elevated greens right off the bat, but so what? We don’t claim to be experts on course design, but despite shooting into the sun right out of the chute, we saw a lot to like about this course.