For many golfers, playing on the British Isles is a long-term goal, as the region has some of the world's oldest golf venues and is also one of the only locations in the world with true links courses.
Links courses are generally built on the sandy soil of a coastline and feature strong winds, deep bunkers, and often unpredictable weather.
There are only four real links courses in the United States – three in Oregon and one on Cape Cod – but Fenwick Golf Course in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, offers a links-style experience without having to travel far from home.
The course sits in Old Saybrook's Fenwick borough, the smallest district in Connecticut, with a year-round population of just 43. Fenwick is set away from the rest of Old Saybrook, across South Cove from Old Saybrook Center, giving it an exclusive, private feel.
Many players have Fenwick Golf Course on their bucket list because it provides an experience that you won't find in many other North American locations. Its position on Long Island Sound means that weather can come in at any moment, and the winds create a challenging, yet stimulating environment.
Locals know that each round at Fenwick is different because there's no telling what the weather will do on any given day, and you'll soon learn precisely why the course is so popular with beginners and seasoned golfers alike.
Some History of Fenwick Golf Course
A reason why Fenwick Golf Course is notable is that it's the oldest public course in all of Connecticut. It's also the second-oldest course of all types in the state, with only the private Greenwich Country Club being older.
Fenwick Golf Course officially opened in 1896, but residents were actually playing it two years earlier in 1894. At that time, holes five, six, and seven were put in place, with holes two, three, and four being added in 1895. The sixth green remains in its original location, making it the oldest green in Connecticut.
Changes to the locations of the tees, greens, and hazards have occurred over the years, but the original concept – a scenic, oceanside course that's accessible for all skill levels – remains.
How the Course Shapes Up
Fenwick Golf Course has nine holes and is 2,904 yards long from the back tees. The course is a par 35, with three par threes, four par fours, and two par fives, including the 545-yard ninth hole that provides a chance to break the driver out as you head back toward the parking lot.
There's also a five-hole Ryder Course that's generally recommended for pre-teenage golfers who are learning the sport but is open to anyone who wants to give it a try.
The course is incredibly scenic, featuring lots of trees, water, and sand while offering views of Long Island Sound, South Cove, and the Connecticut River.
Season Tickets and Making a Tee-Time
Fenwick Golf Course is busy. There's a good reason for that, as the course offers a unique experience that you'd struggle to re-create elsewhere in the country. For that reason, booking a tee time isn't always possible, unless you have a membership.
The course refers to a membership as a season ticket, which allows you to play unlimited golf throughout the year. A season ticket costs between $1,000 and $1,275, depending on the type of membership you want and where you live. Members can book tee times two days in advance, giving them a distinct advantage over the general public.
If you don't have a membership, you can still play the course, but a bit of luck is involved in finding a tee time. Non-members can only book their rounds one day in advance, so you can only reserve a spot if members haven't already booked all the times.
A third option is available for Fenwick residents, who can book a tee time two days in advance without a membership. Homes for sale are limited in Fenwick, but if you can find one, it's one of the most scenic places to live in the entire country.
A round at Fenwick Golf Course is $20 for nine holes, $40 for 18 holes, and $10 for the Ryder Course. On weekends, rates jump to $25 for nine holes and $50 for 18.
Play a Round of Golf in Old Saybrook
Golfer lovers who live in Old Saybrook will surely want to play Fenwick Golf Course at least once, and many will make it their go-to destination on weekends.
The course is kept in pretty good shape and is even open in the winter, weather permitting, which is another reason why it's so popular with locals.
Old Saybrook has a lot going for it, and the old Fenwick Golf Course is just another reason to consider living on the Connecticut Shoreline.