Tallwood CC(Hebron); front 9 reviewed May, 2011; back 9 reviewed July, 2011.
Ornery Bob’s a great field resource on this front and we appreciate his unique insights. Also appreciative that Tavs didn’t show up for league play, making this review possible.
Tallwood is the last of three Tracks to be reviewed on Goat-Track.com that were part of the “(UCONN) Jungle Golf Rotation” years ago. The fourth, Blackledge CC, needs no publicity here and although I’ve always enjoyed playing it, frankly it would be a fairly tedious review to write. Feel free to delve into the intricacies of Blackledge on another site, if you’re so inclined.
Tallwood, on the other hand, is the crème de la crème of the other three Jungle Rotation Courses that we used to play (which also included The Skunk and Twin Hills) and it was great to get a Tallwood refresher course this summer.
Navigation: some folks who live East of the River may take offense…we love the area, but let’s be honest, as far as Connecticut goes, a trip to Tallwood and a trip to the middle of nowhere are pretty much synonymous. If Roget were alive to play this course, he’d concur. Still, it’s surprisingly easy to get to, if properly motivated. That said, once you’re on route 85, the best way to find Tallwood is to start looking for high-reaching, high-voltage lines on the right side of the road after you pass Bolton Pizza. Worked like a charm for me on the 2nd trip. As good a landmark as anything else I’ve used in previous course reviews, bar none. As you drive up the access road with a watershed area on one side, cattle fencing on the other, and high-voltage lines overhead guiding you into the trap rock parking lot of Tallwood CC, that twitching sensation you may feel is probably your Inner Goat Tracker waiting to get out…or it could be a high-voltage side effect; difficult to say for sure.
As for the front 9, a couple of snippets:
Apparently the right side of the 4th hole that slopes down into a mess o’trees, not really a traditional old school “tree line,” ranks high on the annoyance scale to some who frequent Tallwood. Reminds me of some gripes about “course preparation” I’ve heard on other fronts. The “first cut” of rough (or even the second) isn’t nearly enough to stop anything from going into the tree line. Tallwood, as many Goat Tracks do, offers just a bit of hardpan as a parting gift when one leaves the fairway party. The tree line is more of an in-play, semi-forested opportunity for Track Acumen, i.e. find your Inner Sherpa or drop if you need to. Sure, it may add more time to errant shot searches than necessary, but it’s kind of amusing.
What we do appreciate is that it’s all laid out there. You know where the tree maze is; keep your ball out of it and all will be fine.
Greens: No break, just some peculiar rolls; possibly due to the kaleidoscopic mix of grass on the greens. Ornery Bob, familiar with the “universal truth of putting,” agreed that they just rolled kinda odd; couldn’t have had anything to do with not being able to putt for squat.
Back 9 snippets:
Two months removed from playing the front 9, it seemed that gearing up for the back 9 at Tallwood would be completely different from what one would prepare for on the front: par 37 instead of 35, much more water, etc. The fact is that once one has attuned oneself to Tallwood, it’s all good.
Water: In play on 10, 11, 12 (starting to get repetitive), 13 (if you really hammer it right), 15 (best to hope you first ricochet off a tree on the right before reaching the water), and 17 (blind pond from the tee; nice touch). Nice job of mixing it up between going into the water off the tee box and on approach shots. Surprisingly clean by Goat Tracking standards, i.e., not enough algae to stand on in the hazards and hit a shot. Nearly sparkling, bordering on effervescent.
Bunkers: Another of Ornery Bob’s keen insights. Sure, they looked dry despite rain the night before, finely grained, and with more rake tracks than animal tracks and/or footprints, to which we’re not generally accustomed, but as OB pointed out, while we were both contemplating saving par from the right greenside bunker on #14 (part of this may be paraphrased), “It’s no coincidence that neither of our high-trajectory shots left a fried egg (in the sand). There’s a lot less sand there than you think. Try digging down more than half an inch.” He was correct, of course. The point being, don’t be conned into thinking you can hit 2 inches behind the ball and get a soft landing on the green.
Greens: “These are the fastest I’ve ever seen them” as noted by the other half of our foursome on this day. That this comment was made on a day the greens should’ve been slow after some rain the previous day speaks volumes about the riddle that is the Tallwood greens.
Stonework: No trip to an East-of-River Track can be considered complete until we see at least one mammoth field stone wall. Thankfully, Tallwood met expectations on #16. It wasn’t Stonehenge, it wasn’t Brooklyn CC, but it was close enough. According to Ornery Bob, a well-placed carom shot can find its way over the trap to the green from the stone wall on the left.
19th: Friendly and efficient staff with a quick tap trigger finger. Beer, TV, chairs, tables to rest your glass or pitcher when needed, a view of the power lines through the windows, what else could you ask for? Rhetorical question.
Summary: Although Tallwood probably has less Goat Track Cache’ than its peers in the UCONN golf rotation, that should in no way blemish its standing; it’s still a great course to play. The front nine may be more “bail and wail” because of the lack of water in play and more suitable for some Goat Trackers, but there’s not much not to like here.
Tallwood earns a fairly stout 3 out of 4 GT logo rating.