Ridgefield Golf Course – Ridgefield, Connecticut Guru's Rating: 7.1
Non-Resident Weekend Rate (with cart): $65
Ridgefield Golf Course gets a strong endorsement from The Guru for all residents of Westchester and Connecticut who live within a 30-minute drive. This is a naturally beautiful golf course with a lot in its favor, including a practice area, affordable price, and Tom Fazio designed layout. But I live in Manhattan. And if I’m going to drive an hour and fifteen minutes to play golf, I’m more inclined to visit Ridgefield’s neighbor, Richter Park, which sits just five miles away and is simply a higher quality course. Still, let’s call Ridgefield a poor man’s Richter Park – and that’s not a bad thing.
Located off a pretty country road, Ridgefield has the farm theme down pat, from the creaky sign out front to the abandoned antique plow in the grass behind the driving range. The peaceful, rustic vibe to the facility is charming, and the staff is exceedingly friendly and laid back. Upgrades are certainly overdue: the range is unkempt grass and wiffle balls, the carts lack GPS systems, and cart paths are unpaved (I almost lost my lunch a few times on the bumpy terrain). For just $65 though for non-residents (including a cart), Ridgefield is a good deal. Even in late March, two weeks before the season “officially” begins, the course was in above average shape (and will only get better). The staff did a nice job of ushering groups along and tightening up pace of play.
While I was impressed with the scenery at Ridgefield – ponds, deep woods, stunning elevation changes, a turtle ambling across a fairway – I wasn’t overly enthused about the challenge level and variety of the course. Although Ridgefield plays just 6444 yards from the back tees, the amount of “shot making” and required precision is minimal: you can hit driver and wedge on almost every hole and get away with misses. Furthermore, many holes felt remarkably similar in layout and distance, prompting a couple of “Didn’t we already play this hole?” comments.
Most Memorable Hole: Hole #7, a 412 yard par 4 (pictured above) takes the prize, for its grand view from the tee-box. Your drive heads downward into a valley and an enormous barn-like house (with about eight garages) commands your attention in the distance. On a fall day with colorful leaves swirling, I can imagine #7 would be even more stunning.
Most Challenging Hole: “What the hell are you supposed to do on this one?” was the reaction from our group as we teed it up at the sixth hole, a 542 yard Par 5. About 300 yards out, the fairway turns to deep rough, and the hole elevates about 45 degrees before taking an extreme turn left. Getting home in two is simply not possible. The most difficult shot on this hole is your second shot – a “layup” – which needs to land on a narrow uphill fairway, tilting from right to left. Even if you’re in a good spot for your approach, you still can’t see the green until you’re about 50 yards out. A sneaky hidden greenside bunker on the right can take your frustration to another level.
The Bottom Line: While sometimes repetitive in layout and a bit out of date, the overall friendliness and country feel of Ridgefield is worth a short trip and more than worth the price of admission. But if you’re in New York City, New Jersey, or Long Island and determined to play in the Danbury-Ridgefield area, Richter Park should get the nod.
Guru’s Tip: One of the better turkey burgers I have ever – yes, ever – had was at the turn at Ridgefield, which has a pleasantly surprising array of excellent food options at its upstairs restaurant. The turkey burger was fresh, juicy, tasty, and made me forget about my double bogey on nine.