If you have the opportunity to play the best course in your home state, take it. It seems obvious but playing The Stanwich Club in Greenwich, Connecticut confirmed it for me. The Stanwich Club is annually voted one of the best in Connecticut and is known for two things: Exclusivity and difficult greens.
The Stanwich Club lives up to the hype, both in greens and exclusivity. Despite it’s location, North Ave in Greenwich, the entrance to the club and bronze signs at the entrance are barely noticeable. If you’re lucky enough to find the entrance on your first try, you’re better than me. After turning around and making it into the entrance, I made the half mile trek along the tree lined driveway until I reached the clubhouse. Already amazed, I had no idea how much better it would get.
The Golf Course
The greens are every bit as fast and difficult to read as I was told, even the practice green was a challenge. Every green slopes from back to front and in most cases I was forced to hit a club less and bounce it in. If the pin location was in the back and you were long, it was almost guaranteed to be a one stroke penalty.
Prior to playing Stanwich I was not informed about the bunkers. I was fortunate enough to avoid the fairway bunkers but I watched several players attempt to hit out of them only to hit the lip and fall back in. If you’re in the fairway bunker it may be wise to take a short iron or wedge and advance the ball. The greenside bunkers were deep and in the two cases I found them, I hit a lob wedge out. I went 2-for-2 in sand saves with a birdie and par so I can’t complain.
My Three Favorite Holes
3. The 13th Hole: 170 Yard Par 3. It’s not the longest par 3 at Stanwich but this was the hole I got to play with Curtis Strange so it’s special for me. This par 3 requires a forced carry over a small pond but has a large green to hit. A shot long or left would be in the trees and anything to right is in a deep greenside bunker. It’s the number 16 handicap.
2. The 18th Hole: 415 Yard Par 4. A dogleg right, this finishing hole ends with the clubhouse behind the green and Long Island sound to the right. The fairway and green are both guarded by bunkers but a shot in the fairway leaves you a short iron in.
1. The 5th Hole: 515 Yard Par 5. Looking at this hole is enough to scare anyone. Although the scorecard reads 515 yards, requires an uphill approach shot. Long hitters may have a chance to get there in two but deep bunkers guard the green on the left making anything short a challenge. If you choose to lay up, you will have an uphill lie for your third. My description does the number one handicap hole little justice, it's a tough one!
When I have the opportunity to play a premier course my concern is it will not live up to the hype. The rumors of the fast greens at The Stanwich Club are true. These are some of the quickest I have seen and the best advice I have for your first time is trust your caddy.
If you have the opportunity to play here do not pass it up. The design, challenge and beauty of this club make it a must play.