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Oxford Greens GC (Oxford, Connecticut) reviewed June, 2012

Bargain hunting….We’re huge fans of Goat Tracks, but we’re also equally big fans of the GT Value Proposition, no matter where that leads us.  If that means finding a ‘new’ course and waiting until 2:00 to get discounted greens fees on a weekday, so be it.  Our intrigue led us to this under-the-radar Naugatuck Valley gem.

Overview/Slope rating:  In the pro shop, we asked about what seemed a nearly impossible task, bringing Oxford Greens to its knees.  For comparison purposes:

Oxford Greens:  71/131
Gillette Ridge:  70/134
Tower Ridge:  70/129
Hunter GC:  70/127
Cockledge:  69/123
Bueller (Fairchild-Wheeler) Black, “which can be challenging”:  71/119 from the tips.

We were told by pro shop personnel that much of the course rating had to do with the speed of the greens.  They seemed to take pride in their quickness, their undulations, their ability to piss off any golfer that set foot on them, etc.  Fun times ahead.
For the OGGC newbie, it may worth booking a tee time with a threesome and picking up someone with local expertise as a fourth at the first tee, kind of like climbing Everest with a Sherpa.  Our tour guide, Howard, was more than helpful.  And since this isn’t a “sledge and wedge” or “bail and wail” friendly layout; insights from someone who’s played it before may help make your round all that much more enjoyable.  Subtle insights like “don’t hit into the junk there” or “you’re screwed if you roll off that side of the green” may be more helpful than you can imagine and enhance your Tracking experience, or not.

If you want to “get away from it all,” Oxford Greens will assist you on that front.  Every tee shot, mainly because of the tree buffers between holes and cart path travel time from green to tee, will almost make you feel like you’re on a different continent from where you were after you cussed out your last putt that didn’t drop.  The travel experience may remind you of being at the DFW or Mexico City airports, where there’s a lot of ground travel time to chew on what may have gone wrong previously.

Every fairway other than #17 slopes left, which may suck if you’re a lefty with a propensity to slice.  If you’re a right-handed player with an “aggressive fade,” you can bomb away, within reason.  If you’re a NASCAR fan, then maybe everything turning left is something you appreciate more than most.

Tricked up Portion of the Layout, otherwise known as The Greens.  We lucked out here, sort of.  The greenskeeper didn’t place the pins in the “I had a rough night and I’m going to take it out on you peckerheads when I change them at 5:30 a.m.” positions, which was appreciated.  We might’ve been truly screwed otherwise because there are some ridiculous undulations (see the GT review of Indian Springs [Middlefield, Connecticut, posted 2008] for the only other greens we found nearly as ridiculous).  And they’re quick; really quick.  There were few gimmes awarded from outside two feet.  We’ve never seen such pride taken in sinking 4-footers.

Bunkers; plenty.  Sand…surprisingly less plentiful.  Apparently Golfer Number Two had the most experience on this front; reporting and muttering the following:  “Not the sandiest course I’ve ever played… but, why so many rocks?  Why so wet?  Do they irrigate the bunkers just to piss you off?  I can’t believe my ball landed in that un-raked footprint!  I can play Westwoods if I want to deal with that crap!”  Obviously, there was some short game frustration on that front.

Cart Path Curbage:  Wouldn’t mention it, if it weren’t worth mentioning and a significant part of the OGGC layout.  Cart paths are put on the right side of the fairway because most golfers slice.  OGGC installed asphalt curbs on the left side of said cart paths to help you keep your drives in play or to help them carom (further) left.  Impressive.

BCC coverage was better than expected and obviously she had her work cut out on this woodsy course layout.  We were just glad not to be abandoned in the middle of the woods.

Pace of play:  The biggest negative in our Oxford Greens Experience.  We assumed that such a top-notch course would play quicker, based on caliber of talent (present company possibly excluded, although we hold our own on the pace of play front).  Maybe we were “victims” of the scramble tournament ahead of us; but still, it’s difficult to put a positive spin on a round that you can’t finish in fewer than 5, yes five, hours on a weekday afternoon, with a cart.  It’s quite possible that some of that may have to do with the fact that, unless you’ve given up completely, no one’s going to give you a putt from 2 feet in a tight match because it’s easily miss-able based on the speed of these greens.  That doesn’t explain the rest of it, though.

19th/Facilities:  Nothing short of outstanding, from what we could tell, but to be honest, we were geared up for a trip to the newest Nardelli’s down the road and weren’t all that interested in partaking of the on-site facilities.  No doubt that OGGC’s 19th is more than hospitable, impressive, etc., but you really just can’t beat a trip to Nardelli’s, especially when you’re trying to escape the scene of your last 3 or 4-putt as quickly as humanly possible.

In summary:  Overall, we found Oxford Greens to be a challenging, yet fair, layout.  The slope/course rating did not lie.  Not too many blind shots, not overly tight, and it rewarded a certain amount of “shot placement,” which we begrudgingly respected.

Enough of that nonsense.  Here’s the deal in a nutshell…

As “uniquely spectacular” as OGGC claims to be; while we were playing (or possibly butchering) it, Oxford Greens invited comparisons to many courses we’ve reviewed previously.  It ranks favorably against Gillette Ridge and Tower Ridge on the playability front, but the pace o’play issues, the fact that you can’t jump out on the back for a quick 9 after work , and that it’s unplayable without a cart, which makes it Tracker Unfriendly,squarely put Oxford Greens dangerously close tologo territory.  Nardelli’s is saving its ass for now, as far as we’re concerned and OGGC earns a modest  out of 4 GT ogos