E. Gaynor Brennan Golf Course – Stamford, Connecticut Guru’s Rating: 5.8
Non-Resident Weekend Rate (with cart): $55.50
“You played at Brennan, huh? Hope you wore your football helmet.” – Random Guy in Bar
We’ll get to the dangerous layout of E. Gaynor Brennan (which can sometimes resemble a firing range), one of Stamford’s two public courses (the other being the outstanding Sterling Farms), in a moment.
But first, let me applaud its best feature – the terrace (pictured above) that overlooks the tee-box on 17.
One a warm day, those stools are filled, the music of summer blares through the speakers (last week when we played, it was Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin”), and the smell of beer and fried food overcomes you. The patrons are right on top of the tee box – yes, a true gallery is there to watch you try to crush your drive on the short 454 yard par 5. Ever wonder how the pros feel with patrons breathing down their necks and – either – cheering a bomb down the middle – or snickering at an off-center hit? You’ve got the full experience at Brennan’s 17th hole. There’s no escaping the scrutiny of the crowd (and even a wager or two on your group on who will hit it best) – but if you strike it clean and hear the roar of the crowd – you’ll feel like a million bucks. On the flip side, if you shank one, you’ll feel like you’re worth less than a handful of tees.
While 17 is the most thrilling moment of a round at Brennan, chances are it won’t be its scariest. This tight layout speaks to why the “Fore!” cry was introduced to the game – and when someone shouts that word at Brennan, you’d better duck…and quick (or, as noted above, be wearing protective gear).
Narrow fairways are crammed between holes, the total of which measure just 5931 yards. With amateurs spraying shots left and right, you’ll often find anywhere from 4-8 balls lying on any given fairway. Furthermore, a bizzarely located putting green puts those who innocently want to practice their short game directly in the line of fire.
Brennan’s short, inconsistent layout is its biggest negative. For example, a 228 yard par 3 (hole #13) is balanced by one that’s only 109 yards (#9). There are three par 5’s, but the longest is just 485 yards. You could show up to this course with four clubs and probably shoot a decent score – not much in the way of a challenge or variety. And worse, two holes (12 and 14) feature gimmicky blind second shots to greens at the bottom of a hill.
Overall though, a day at Brennan is fun: the course is nicely kept, #17 is a blast, and the pace of play won’t kill you (average of 4.5-5 hour rounds on weekends). It’s affordable (just $49 for non-residents on weekends) and very easy to snag a tee-time on-line (in deep contrast to Sterling Farms).
Most Memorable Hole: #17 is clearly the winner, but second prize goes to the aforementioned 13th hole. 228 yards (longer with the pin in the back) is a tough distance for most amateurs and features a steep downhill elevation change. The green is also enormous – not an easy two-putt.
Most Challenging Hole: I always have trouble with #5, a 368 yard par 4. The fairway is tight and the green is elevated high above. A powerful drive with some draw will put you in good position – but good luck gauging the slope and yardage on your approach.
Guru’s Tip: Zody’s 19th Hole is a solid restaurant and the halfway house at the turn makes excellent turkey sandwiches (REAL turkey, not processed). They sell sandwiches in halves – and one of those is a good size and usually plenty.
The Bottom Line: Brennan doesn’t compare to Sterling Farms from a pure golf perspective, but it does provide an overall enjoyable experience. So buckle your chin strap on and bring on the gallery.
**Note that there is currently a TON of construction on the course (presumably to improve the layout) – ditches and construction equipment come into play on the 17th fairway and green.