Willow Brook GC(South Windsor), back 9 reviewed August, 2009
We chose to review Willow Brook GC because it seemed to be an accessible course for Goat Trackers who could get to East of the River Tracks easily....and the lofty self-promotion on the course's website was intriguing.
The Willow Brook Review
Open for play in 2002, similar to Quarry View GC, Willow Brook doesn't quite have the same "broken in...maybe broken down" feel that we've come to expect from other Exective Courses. The manicured conditions and meticuolously edged sidewalks and curbs seemed to suggest that Willow Brook was aspiring to something better than what it is.
Pro Shop/Clubhouse: Immaculate, right down to the amenities in the men's room, which are a far cry from those at most other golf courses, ball parks, etc. A shame to provide the "Costanza bathroom analysis," but it fits. A disinterested sextagenarian running the pro shop made the whole thing work that much better.
Other Amenities: The range. The longest hole from "the tips" is #18, at 376 yards (probably the signature hole). Apparently, the driving range is there to help golfers sharpen their skills for playing other courses. It seemed odd, until we remembered that Westwoods also has a range. Free pass.
The walk to the 1st/10th tee is kind of interesting, if only because one gets to walk across a bridge cutting across some high-quality muck, and past the pet cemetery.
Design/Layout: We like to think that we can always come up with something positive on this front, but upon further reflection, the word that came to mind was "uninspired"...and that's a painful thing for a Goat-Track.com reviewer to have to say. We at Goat -Track.com are generally pretty good about, and dedicated to, finding the nuances that make even so-called "deplorable" Tracks fun to play. No such luck at Willow Brook. Bombing away at every par-3 with a wedge can become tedious after a while, even to the most errant Tracker;
Conditions: We weren't expecting true Goat Track conditions, so we weren't disappointed with what we saw. The folks at Willow Brook seem to take course maintenance seriously. To their credit, the place was in even better shape than expected. If it were done on something larger than an oversized pitch & putt, it would've been more impressive and less puzzling.
Best GT Feature: The upside of the "newness" of Willow Brook and its extensive, smoothly-paved cart paths was that, rather than having cement markers, the yardages were spray-painted on the cart paths next to the tee boxes. This was a welcome respite from all the guesswork we'd been subjected to of late, looking for USGA markers, smacking people with skycaddies, etc. Of course, since the greens on the par 3's are so deep, there's still a lot of guesswork involved, but it was a nice Track touch.
Tee Boxes: Just enough crabgrass to accentuate the fully-filled fescue hitting areas. Of note, the grass seed/sand mix buckets were only placed behind the blue tees; not sure what to make of that.
Bunkers: Goat Track worthy in that they were somewhat granular (not powdery), which we like; no pebbles, no two-foot high grass around the lips, no grass in them; a 5 out of 10 on the GT Trap scale.
Greens: Best part of the course. Top notch, especially when considering they're being bombed at from the tees with wedges all the time. If Golfer Number Two can make a 25-footer to save his bacon for par, it stands to reason that they're exceptionally puttable. The Goat-Track.com putting spectrum generally has only two points, ranging from "unputtable" to "puttable." Willow Brook moved the needle to "exceptionally puttable."
Summary: Although the course conditions and facilities were top notch, we can't rate Willow Brook anything more than GT logos out of 4