December 5, 2021
Our knowledgeable crew of course evaluators have played golf almost everywhere. You’ve probably heard of many of these courses by now, but some are less well known – at least to most golfers. In the Best Course You’ve Never Heard, we’re celebrating those sneaky-good designs.
On an early fall day in September 1938, a hurricane known as the Long Island Express blew over Katharine Hepburn’s waterfront home in Connecticut at 150 mph. The storm devastated the starlet’s property, leaving her belongings scattered on the neighboring 9-hole Fenwick golf course. Hepburn was an avid golfer and loved this course, which is located at the confluence of the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound.
Fenwick was laid out on a headland jutting into the Sound between 1894 and 1896, making it the state’s oldest public golf course. It is an unmistakable hidden gem. Fenwick’s history of the tape looks simple on the scorecard as a 2,904-yard par-34 course, but tiny greens and capricious seaside winds require surgical iron play.
A round begins immediately, with a nod to faith, when the pebble-sided St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea Chapel (1896) greets the golfer beginning his round.
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The 200 meter long 2nd has a beautiful view and many eyes will be on the ancestral Hepburn estate to the right of the green. The 155-yard 3rd is notable for a view of the skyline behind the tiny trash green and the large yawning bunker to the left of it.
The short par 5 4th is great fun. The cape-like hole tees high above the waters of South Cove as the fairway turns right. The further your ball can be carried across the water, the shorter your second shot and the shorter the chance of an eagle.
The 6th and 9th holes are historical footnotes to the round. On that solemn morning before Hurricane 1938, Hepburn surpassed the 153-yard six place where a ridge obscured the underside of the flagstick. Their joy was obviously short-lived, for no one suspected the devastation that would come hours later.
As Fenwick’s longest hole at 545 yards, the par-5 is 9th. Legend – Howard Hughes is rumored to have landed his plane on the fairway to pick up Hepburn on a date.
So this is Fenwick! Beautiful views, a classic layout with enticing greens and bunkers, all for a 9-hole price of 20-30 USD. I have spent several rounds here in the 10 years that I have lived in Muscat State. As the sports writer who recommended it said, “Just play Fenwick and you’ll love it!” He was right.