Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Golf Course Plans Before Quinnetucket

Made my latest post about Quinnetucket Golf Course at CtGolfer.com. This is an expanded version that doesn't tread as lightly when it comes to the routing of architect Al Zikorus.

Sometime in the 1970s, the city of Middletown had the idea to build a golf course on part of what is the proposed Quinnetucket Golf Course site. The 18-hole Zikorus design ran from the south side of Bow Lane - where the Quinnetucket clubhouse and practice area would be located - south to property that is now part of Middlesex Community College, including up to one of the Connecticut Valley Hospital reservoirs. The clubhouse site was at the corner of Cedar Lane and Reservoir Road. The design was a par-72 and 6,607 yards from the back tees.

There are also two other rudimentary routings that are on file in the city's planning and zoning office. Both of those 18-hole courses were jammed into essentially the same four parcels that make up the nine-hole Quinnetucket layout, and had an overabundance of short par-4s. I can find no information the architect's identity or when the routings were created.

As for the Zikorus plan, it isn't apparent if it was a final drawing or merely a proposal. Since it only shows one set of tees, I'm guessing it is a preliminary attempt. What it does show, even in that form, is that Zikorus chose to take golf holes up and down a steep ravine that is located on a narrow parcel resulting in greens and tees being wedged together. He made almost no effort to work with the land and gradually traverse the slope. Admittedly, at some points the topography is so extreme that tact would have been impossible.

Zikorus was giving the city what they wanted by drawing up a routing but if the layout had been built to his plans, the course would have had a number of uncomfortable holes that either ran straight up or down severe grades. The worst example is the par-3 9th that would have played 190 yards from the back tee and risen 70 feet. The hole would have been a driver for virtually every class of player, all of whom would be hitting to a blind green. On the opposite end of the spectrum was the 533-yard par-5 first hole that dropped 120 feet from tee to putting surface.

The severity of that part of the property that Zikorus chose to incorporate was unusable to Silva and me. We preferred to create a nine-hole layout that works comfortably with the land, rather than an 18-hole design that fights it.

I can't say I'm surprised by what the drawings show. From the Zikorus courses I've seen, he had a modicum of talent. His renovation of the Hunter Golf Course in Meriden, Conn., my home course, resulted in a series of boring and disagreeable holes that punish the the high handicap player and shorter hitter. There is rarely a time where playing to a specific side of a fairway reveals the best route for an approach to the green. Timberline Golf Club in Berlin, Conn., is one of the most boring layouts I've ever had the misfortune play. He also displayed little talent when it came to adapting new holes to existing layouts. His one green complex at the Donald Ross-designed Cohasset (Mass.) Country Club fits in like a white horse in herd of black cows.

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