The list of top public-access golf in Connecticut shines a spotlight on a municipal layout operated by the City of Hartford that presents some of the best – if not the absolute best – greens fees of any course that sits atop a Golfweek’s Best ranking.
Golfweek ranks courses by compiling the average ratings – on a points basis of 1 to 10 – of its more than 750 raters to create several industry-leading lists of courses. That includes the popular Best Courses You Can Play list for courses that allow non-member tee times. These generally are defined as layouts accessible to resort guests or regular daily-fee players.
Keney Park Golf Course in Hartford is No. 1 on that list for the Nutmeg State. With nine holes designed by Devereux Emmet that opened in 1927 and nine more designed by city engineer Robert ”Jack” Ross that opened a few years later, the course was renovated by Matthew Dusenberry and reopened in 2016. The renovation added many bunkers and features to what had been a rough patch of golf, but what Golfweek’s Best raters have commented on most has been the interesting contours of the greens, which previously had lacked interest.
Best of all, Keney Park is a bargain. Peak weekend rates in 2021 for non-residents are $44, and locals get a break on that. Even on weekends, there’s a $21 twilight walking rate. That makes Keney Park one of the lowest-priced courses to appear among Golfweek’s Best, even with its No. 1 ranking in Connectictut.
No. 2 in Connecticut is Great River Golf Club, a Tom Fazio design that opened in 2001. It plays across more open ground on the front nine before moving into more heavily wooded terrain on the back, where a series of wood bridges link the landscape.
No. 3 in Connecticut is Wintonbury Hills, a Pete Dye layout that opened in 2005, his only original design in New England. At the behest of former Golfweek course architecture writer Bradley S. Klein, Dye designed Wintonbury Hills for a grand fee of $1 in an effort – and with encouragement from his wife, Alice Dye – to construct more municipal courses.
The No. 4 public-access course in Connecticut is the North Course at Lake of Isles in North Stonington, a Rees Jones design that opened in 2005 across the street from Foxwoods Resort Casino. The North also ranks No. 24 on Golfweek’s Best Casino Courses list for the whole United States.
No. 5 is Fox Hopyard in East Haddam, a Roger Rulewich design that opened in 2001.
Connecticut is also home to a strong lineup of private clubs, starting with Yale Golf Course in New Haven. Yale also ranks No. 1 on Golfweek’s Best Campus Courses list, and after a long closure in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is open again for member and university play.
Check out all the top courses in Connecticut.