I am a member of a group called the Junior/Senior Golfing Society of Connecticut. The organization has a couple hundred members, almost all representing private clubs in the state, and every summer we play four private courses from the shoreline to the western hills of the Nutmeg State. The first “outing” of 2016 this past Tuesday was Madison Country Club, within a driver and wedge of the coastline along the Long Island Sound. Madison is a great example of how a traditional golf course can be renovated to look even more “classic.”
The Junior/Senior group had played Madison a couple of years ago. The course, originally designed by the accomplished British golfer and designer Willie Park, Jr. in 1909, was looking a bit long in the tooth when we first played it, but it still had many of the classic Park touches familiar to those who have played Gullane in Scotland and Sunningdale outside London, and New Haven Country Club and Shuttle Meadow in our own state of Connecticut. Those included landing areas that appeared narrower than they actually were, some severely bunkered greens, and holes with distances that clearly were designed to accommodate wind patterns (shorter into the wind, longer with).
Last year, Brian Silva undertook a respectful redesign of the course, improving it by adding more contour to the bunkers, additional sloping in the fairways and a cleaner overall look, without transforming a Park course into a Silva course. The hybrid black and gold tees we played were just 6,275 yards, and the wind was only blowing modestly off the nearby Sound, but with handicaps of no higher than 12 in our group, no one broke 90. A classic golf course is one that plays harder than it looks -– think Donald Ross –- and Madison surely meets the definition.
Enjoy the photos. For a list of courses designed by Willie Park, Jr., click here.