MISSING END OF REVIEW!
Villa Hills GC (Storrs/Mansfield, [i.e., somewhere out in the sticks near UCONN])reviewed July, 2008.
Stumbled across this Track on ctgolfer.com when trying to find courses to be reviewed for 2008 and was intrigued because this was the one course in the greater East Bumfuck area that we did not play in college (aparently because this course didn't exist when we were in collge).
If you're looking to play a par-3 course to work on your short game, Villa Hills probably isn't your best option (we'd probably go with Del Boca Vista), but that doesn't mean that this Track doesn't deserve some pub. To the contrary, Villa Hills provides a quintessentially classic Goat Tracking experience on a smaller scale. The conditions are reminiscent of old school par-3 courses that have gone by the wayside over the past 20 years, like the one that used to be adjacent to the Tunxis Fore driving range. Some of the notable features include:
Pro Shop: There isn't one, just a sign in front of the vacant building facing the road that says, "pay the worker on the course." Awesome!
Layout: Despite being a par-3 course, there are some quirky shots to be made; elevated tees, threading the needle through overhanging trees, etc. From that perspective, it meets most Goat Tracker requirements for a layout that rewards Track Acumen.
Greens: Completely unputtable (on this trip, they had just been fertilized to make them even more grainy and challenging). Shaggy and no fringe. Since the point of playing a par-3 course is to see whether you can fire at the pin, putting is secondary; this aspect of Track maintenance was accepted and appreciated.
Yardage: The longest hole is posted at 185 yards. The beauty of this layout is that it forces Trackers to get in touch with their "inner Sherpa" because the marked distances are unreliable at best.
Tee Boxes: A true stroke of genius. Villa Hills took the driving range/par-3 course combo concept to heart. There are no tee boxes; instead there are driving range mats. Even better, the mats have the same undulating and uneven footing that we've come to expect from esteemed courses like Keney and Hawks' Landing. Truly impressive.
Bunkers: If there's a return trip to Villa Hills, it won't be without a camera. These were the best Goat Track bunkers ever, bar none; even the original Goat Track can't hold a candle to them. Calling them bunkers may be a misnomer. They were more like 12-foot diameter circles carved out around 6-foot diameter rocks. Best guess is that it's to make the course easier to mow, but as far as seeing something different, and Track-worthy, this rocked (no pun intended).
Summary: Villa Hills represents all that is Goat Tracking on a par-3 course. While it's probably not worth the trip for anyone outside the greater Coventry/Mansfield area, it should be a Goat Track of choice for UCONN students, especially since it's about a pitching wedge away from the Villa Spirit Shop, which isn't foreign territory to many of them. Load up, make some stupid bets, take your hacks, and circle back to campus within an hour or so. It doesn't get much better than that.