Race Brook Country Club – Orange, Connecticut Guru's Rating: N/A
Non-Resident Weekend Rate (with cart): N/A
As you play Race Brook Country Club’s outstanding Championship golf course in Orange, Connecticut, the place’s history swirls around you like the winds of Scotland. 100 years of stories, celebrities, tournaments, and memorable moments.
The first tee box, taking in the gorgeous tree-lined 410-yard opener. Former U.S. President William Howard Taft planted his tee here before taking a (likely) “buffoonish” hack– he was the club’s first honorary member.
The unforgettable signature 2nd hole, a 173-yard par-3 over a (Race) brook. What clubs did Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson choose on this hole in their exhibition match in 1942?
Walking up the fairway at the daunting, winding 420-yard finishing hole. Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, and Jackie Robinson ALL played at Race Brook. But it doesn’t get more regal or respected here than Race Brook member and Connecticut golf legend /LPGA Champion Pat O’Sullivan Lucey. They even dedicated Race Brook’s nine-hole course – The O’Sullivan Course – to her.
The glacier sized green on the par-5 third hole. The course’s designer, the Scottish born Robert Pryde lived just across the street from this green, until he died in 1951.
Landmarks abound at Race Brook – the stomping grounds of six Connecticut State Amateurs (including this past June), five Senior Amateurs and Six State Opens, among many other competitions. This summer’s Centennial celebration brought the venerable club into the spotlight – and it shined. You’d be hard pressed to find many layouts in the area with the playability, history, and beauty of Race Brook. It’s a classic spot.
Of course, the story – as it always seems to in golf – starts in Scotland. Pryde moved to the Connecticut area from Tayport in the late 90s – the 1890s, that is. A former Pro Shop assistant at Scotscraig Golf Club (which advertises itself as the 13th oldest in the world – join me in drooling while browsing its website), Pryde was quickly scooped up by Yale University to be its first ever golf coach. Pryde’s ‘rep in the area grew, and it was not long before his expertise was needed to design new golf courses, including Race Brook in 1912. As part of the club’s 100-year-old celebration in August, current members of Scotscraig were actually flown in from overseas.
Our group had a blast at Racebrook; the facilities, people, and course are all top notch. Here’s to another hundred.
Most Memorable Hole: Racebrook has natural beauty of all shapes and sizes – trees, water, rocks. The setting is most pastoral, however, on the 366-yard par-4 fourth hole, aptly known as “Red Barn.” That’s because abutting the tee box is – you guessed it – a red barn – which adds a unique touch to a gorgeous hole. I followed the course guidebook’s instructions and – as a “big hitter” – carried the bunker on the right side of the fairway, leaving me a short wedge to the green. I did not follow any guidebook’s strategies, however, for putting, and walked away with a bogey.
Most Challenging Hole: Number eight, a 422-yard par-4 gave me fits. A dog-leg right, you need to land your drive in the perfect spot – left side of the fairway – to have a look at the green on your second. Even so, you’re effectively staring at a tight, 180-yard approach to a well-guarded (by bunkers) stick.
Guru’s Tip: Race Brook is packed with friendly, helpful and classy staff, including General Manager Sean McLaughlin and Head Pro Paul Barnsley – so don’t be shy if you have questions. The warm atmosphere largely explains Race Brook’s staying power.