Gillette Ridge Golf Course
Our Rating: 85
Friendliness of Staff: 9
The course has a lot of room for improvement here. The guy in the pro shop was not engaging without even a “hello” or “can I help you” when I came in. The guy announcing our event seemed a little un-enthusiastic. The ranger was pleasant, but we only saw him on one hole (more on that later). The girls int he bar and running the beer cart really carried the friendliness here, at least they were willing to ask us how our day was going.
Updated July 23, 2012: The staff has really kicked it up a notch compared to last year. The team in the pro shop was great, the rangers were more engaging, and they were offering to drive you to and from the practice range.
Facilities/Pro Shop: 8
They are close to having some of the best facilities for a public course that I’ve ever seen. They have a large practice range with mats and did not mind us hitting off of the grass. There are two practice greens, one near the clubhouse and another hidden near the first tee box. The bar/restaurant has a smaller bar, but has plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. The bathrooms were nice, with a small locker room area for members. What’s keeping this from being a 10 is the inventory in the pro shop. The pro shop itself is quite nice, large and inviting, but they were really low on merchandise. It seemed like all clothing was logo’d for Gillette Ridge and I didn’t even notice any clothing for women. Nor did I notice clubs or other equipment like shoes or rain gear for sale. This was scored an 8, but see notes for why it’s a 6.
Updated July 23, 2012: I only did a quick walk through of the pro shop, but they certainly had a lot more inventory and merchandise available for purchase. The facilities here to get warmed up before your round or just for members to practice are among the best in the area.
Quality/Value of Food/Snacks: 8
They seem to have a descent menu, but I went for the basics for lunch…2 hot dogs. My dogs must have been made to order, as it seemed like it took too long to receive. They must have been ready but sitting there, because when I got them, they tasted a bit cold (I really can’t tell if they were sitting there or just not cooked all the way as they were cold on the outside). The banquet dinner we had was hamburgs, hot dogs, and chicken. I went with the burger and chicken, all of which were overcooked. I’m not sure who was in the kitchen this day, but they may want to spot check some quality. That being said, the pricing was very reasonable.
Updated July 23, 2012: They had pre-made sandwiches and hot dogs available from the beer cart which made purchasing food before the round a whole lot easier! The banquet dinner was the same food as last year, but they were definitely cooked a lot better.
Fairway Conditions: 9
These are among the best fairways I’ve come across for a public course. The grass was perfect, cut perfect, and I can’t recall seeing one weed. A couple spots were very wet, so drainage may be a struggle in certain areas.
Greens Conditions: 8
I really enjoyed the greens here, with one exception; people were not fixing their ball marks! I was generally fixing mine plus 3 others. That’s a bit excessive and the course may want to take a preventative step in either offering free divot tools or a small sign in the cart asking golfers to repair their marks. Otherwise, the greens were in great shape. I didn’t notice much for damage or lost grass from weather. These are fast greens, but I liked that they rolled true. They were not difficult to read either, which is great for a public course.
What came first, the course or Cigna? Of course Cigna was there first, but the course is part of the campus to Cigna, which has an enormous building that probably employs a few thousand people. You don’t see the Cigna building from every hole, but it is right next to the clubhouse and Cigna’s cafeteria is overlooking the practice green and the range. It might be a bit more weird if you’re playing during the week when people are working. Otherwise, the scenery is actually pretty descent. The course winds through some nice looking condos and also abuts a lot of wood and swamp land that will never be expanded upon.
Difficulty of Course: 8
From the whites, this is not a long course, measuring in at 6,133 yards. Many of the par-4′s are less than 400 yards, and there is a par-5 coming in at 418 yards. The 283 yard par-4 was fun for all of us to try to drive on to. From the black tees, the distance is over 1,000 yards more. But, the name of the game is accuracy. If you stay in the fairway, you’re fine. For a novice golfer, bring plenty of balls. The course is lined with rolling mounds covered in tall grass that make finding your ball like finding a needle in a haystack. There is a lot of water and wasteland on approach shots, some even causing you to need to keep the driver in the bag off the tee. The need for accuracy trumps here.
Value Received: 9
This course is a bargain! Weekends and holidays are $65 with cart. During the week it’s $50 with a cart. Given the difficulty of the course and shape the greens and fairways are in, I’d pay that all day. Add on the range and practice greens, you could spend a day here warming up and playing around at a great price.
Speed of Play / Design of Course: 8
I think that they really did the best they possible could have done with the design. The course winds through wooded land and seems have been built up around wasteland and water as well. My issue here is the speed of play. It took us 5.5 hours to finish our scramble tournament. We had 17 groups and they doubled us up on the first 9 holes so that their members could be fitted in throughout the afternoon. We saw the ranger on 1 hole only, the longest drive hole, where he was watching how far people were hitting. We didn’t see him again the rest of the day, where he was needed when we were backed up two teams on the tee box.
Updated July 23, 2012: The rangers did a great job this time. We saw them every couple of holes, so you know speed of play was important to them. Our tournament ran the same, with our teams doubled up on the first 9 holes, but the pace of play was greatly improved this year. We were only waiting on a couple holes as the team ahead of us really slowed down towards the end of the day.
19th Hole: 8
The bar itself is a little small, and there is a divider to the dinning area that makes it a tight squeeze if there are too many people in there. They have a great selection of beer, including Guinness, Smithwicks, Dogfish Head and more! Drinking on the outdoor patio after your round is great, it’s just too bad you’ve got the Cigna building right there, and they stopped service at 7pm. Really? 7pm? On a Saturday night? It makes you wonder why the members aren’t there for drinks or dinner on the weekend.
There is a beer cart on the course.
You know how the saying goes, attention is in the details, and I feel like details are what makes or breaks a great course. And here, they seem to be missing some noticeable details. Hole #6 had no cups for the water cooler. Hole #11 had cups, but they were still in the cardboard sleeve. Why are there no cup holders on the side of the water coolers? It’s tacky to have them in a cardboard box on top of the water cooler. A sand trap on the 7th had no rake in it (at least one that we could find). The 8th tee box had no shovel in the bin of sand for fixing your divot. Another par-3′s bin was empty of dirt, but this one was full…since there was no shovel! This being my first time playing there, we nearly got creamed by a car as the cart path crosses a road to the condos and there was no stop sign for us, which was tough since we couldn’t see the road after coming around a bend on the cart path. The course needs to sell yardage books. As accuracy is paramount, it’s easy for a first-timer here to not know they need to lay up on certain holes as the shot may be blind (#5). A yardage book with distances to wasteland and the green would be more than helpful. Also include the dimensions and size of the greens, as we struggled with depth perception on many holes here. All that being said, I think this is a fun course to play. There are risk/rewards depending on your length. The fairway and green conditions make this a great place to play. Kudos to the course superintendent and their team. I hope to be back here next year, and with noticeable improvements in the details, this course could easily be 10 points higher, making it one of the top public courses in the area, in my mind.
Updated July 23, 2012: Maybe they read our review from last year because they made some great improvements, particularly when it comes to service. The friendliness of staff has greatly improved, the pro shop was properly stocked, and the small details were taken care of. The carts now had a canister of sand/seed mix to fix your divots on the fairways, but I still think they need to put a notice on the carts to have people fix their divots. Instead of yardage books, they skipped a step and built gps in to their mobile website, which you can utilize from your smartphone. The course is under new management, which I’m sure influenced a lot of the improvements. This is certainly one of the top courses in the area. I’m already looking forward to next years tournament!