Dye donates design skills to public course in Connecticut

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

The only Pete Dye-designed golf course in Connecticut recently opened. The Wintonbury Hills Golf Course is in Bloomfield.

The renowned golf course architect, who normally charges up to $750,000, billed the city only $1 for his services because of his commitment to more affordable golf.

"To keep golf going, we have to build courses people can afford to play," Dye told The Hartford Courant.

Dye's wife, Alice, is president of the American Society of Golf Architects, and asked society members to donate their services for $1 on five municipal courses. Wintonbury Hills is Pete Dye's fifth.

Rates at the city-owned course range from $25-$70, with the city giving lower rates to residents.

Dye, best known for his radical design at courses like the TPC at Sawgrass, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island and Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic, told the paper his design style has changed.

"I've had to change dramatically," said Dye, 78. "I used to try to build two or three short par-3s, but the only way you can get a good player to hit a long iron any more is to build a long par-3."

The new course's par-3 No. 17 is 190 yards from the back tees. Golfers hitting short should be right and to the right of the sloping green.

No. 7 is a 185-yard downhill par-3, with water on the left and pot bunkers on the right.

Dye said another change involved designing sloping greens.

"You used to have slopes from back to front, but if you do that now, the ball just rolls right off the green because they're so quick," he said.

The par-70, 6,600-yard layout was an eight-year undertaking for the city, which hopes the course will draw more visitors.

It's laid out on 290 acres on the site of an old dairy farm. Course officials describe it as a combination of open "links-style" and "traditional tree-lined holes." It has rolling fairways and 125 bunkers.

The new course includes a clubhouse, grill and pub and pro shop, with a driving range still under construction.

It is managed by Billy Casper Golf, the sixth-largest gold course management company in the United States.

The course was opened for preview play last year and Golf Magazine named it one of the "top 10 new courses you can play." About 270 courses were eligible to make the list, and it is the only course in New England to have that distinction.

Bloomfield has three other courses, all at the Tumble Brook Country Club.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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