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Timberlin GC, Berlin, CT (back 9 reviewed June, 2008)
Part of the Goat-Track.com mission this year is to expand the radius for Tracks to be reviewed and Timberlin, in central Connecticut, fits the bill.  This review was a fall back position and sort of accidental; the original plan was to play the course we were hoping to find based on the "public golf course" sign by the side of the Wilbur Cross Parkway.  Unfortunately, that course has been defunct for at least five years.  What a shame...so based on Rabbit Ears' useful preliminary recon, we played Timberlin.

General:  This course does not qualify as a Goat Track, although it does have some great Track Features.  Course conditions are comparable to
Tunxis and Rockledge; the amount of misery inflicted on the scorecard is more comparable to Rockledge (based on personal experience).  That said, this is a most enjoyable course to play, especially if you're trying to break up the routine of playing on the usual Goat Tracks to which you're accustomed.

Not to be a sap, but there are some impressive scenic views of the surrounding area from Timberlin, based on the course being at least halfway to what seems like the middle of nowhere.

Course Features/Conditions
Tee Boxes:  Way better than we're accustomed to and perfectly respectable.  On a couple of holes, it was difficult to find a non-sloping lie to peg it up, but overall a much more subtle challenge than we faced at Hawk's Landing.  Bonus points awarded for sneaking the elevation changes in there to test Track Acumen.  Also, a good observation by Rabbit Ears that a pry bar was not necessary to tee up.

Fairways:  Again, comparable to Tunxis, Rockledge, or any other non-Goat Track; not beaten to shit; no need to enforce the "grass rule."  Smelled like they may have fertilized recently, but there weren't any signs posted, so we can't be sure.  The course was a little on the damp side on this day, based on a lot of rain the night before, but we're still convinced that the course probably doesn't drain all that well (based on some minor casual water and the amount of mud on the club faces [we dug deep...and often]) and must be like a sauna when it's hot & humid based on the moisture retention.

Greens:  Amazingly uniform in both the color & type of grass, as well as speed, which was probably a bit slower than usual from the rain, but reasonably quick for a public course.  Getting out of the fringe had potential to be an adventure, but if that's where you are, you pretty much deserve what you get.

Rough:  Probably because of the fairways being fertilized, you were more likely to be in deep guano if you missed the fairway by two feet than if you missed it by twenty; the rough grows where the fertilizer goes...  Once you figure this out, it plays to the strengths of a Sherpa with Track Acumen, i.e. "if you're going to miss the fairway, miss it by a lot!"

Bunkers:  I may have to play Minnechaug again to compare notes, but Timberlin seemed to have the most fairway bunkers I've seen in a long time, which probably doesn't mean much.  On the plus side, the grass on the lips was cut down below two feet, as opposed to what we've seen in the last rounds played at Blue fox Run and the Skunk.  They definitely made the course more challenging, which probably wasn't what we needed on this day; no complaints though.

Best Track-like Features:  Even the best of golf courses get compared to Goat Tracks in one way or another and there's nothing wrong with that at all, in fact it should be viewed as a compliment.  With that said, here are the four Goat Track observations made on the back 9 at Timberlin:

1)  Stone retaining wall at the water hazard on #12:  the wall at the back edge of the pond was held together with some sort of super-strength chicken wire.  This was truly exceptional and may not be seen again.  As an added bonus, this pond had some algae on it, so we didn't feel comppletely out of place.
2) Another water hazard?  The pond on 12 opens up to another, larger pond further left, which is reminiscent of #3 at Canton Public (r.i.p.), "we've got a marsh here, but an even better one over there, if you think you're up to it."  Without the cross breeze, there's no doubt that we would've been down close to a pint of blood on this hole, courtesy of the mosquitoes that must wreak havoc from there.
3) The Coyote Decoy:  (this one really hit the sweet spot) On #13 there was some sort of hunched coyote figure strategically placed at the edge of the pond.  Fortunately, there was a tag on it, so we could reasonably assume that it was fake; however, there was a discussion about which club would be best to take one out, if necessary.  Two thumbs up for the Spackler-esque course management, thinking outside the box, and doing something to keep the goose shit to a minimum near the pond (possible landing area).  We consulted with the geese at the brook 100 or so yards away to try to understand why they weren't hanging out at the pond.  They were less than responsive.
4) Matt, the "Goat Track Natural Historian," would've appreciated the turtle perched on a log in the middle of the pond on #17.  For whatever reason, seeing turtles on the course just makes the round that much more enjoyable.

Although there was no BCC making the rounds, the Timberlin experience was top notch and is highly recommended to those who can get there.  We hope to provide a review of the front 9 in the not too distant future.