600 Park Road
By Kim J. Harmon
WATERBURY â For years and years, Western Hills Golf Course in Waterbury had been the epitome of a goat path.
Dug up tees, burned out fairways, greens pockmarked with gouges and cuts (the by-product of an enormous amount of play) completely obscured the nice 6,246-yard layout designed and constructed 40 years ago.
But it had been amazingly cheap for Waterbury residents to play on Western Hills and it was difficult (impossible on the weekends) to get on the course â which, no doubt, led to it getting beaten up. Fees, though, have risen pretty dramatically (but are still just $21 for residents and six or seven bucks more for non-residents) and the amount of play â especially from seniors â has dropped off just as dramatically.
Which has left the course in superb shape.
While the staff at Western Hills, judging by the User Ratings on Golfcourse.com, have gotten some pretty poor marks (although I did not have a problem at all), once you get past that it is a pretty strong golfing experience.
No doubt, Western Hills is a place you can score well on (except for having to go over water once, and one particularly narrow fairway on the par-4 fourth hole, the course is forgiving to the somewhat erratic player), but donât take it for granted.
The first hole â a par 4, 346 yards â is wide open, but a sloping fairway makes for a challenging approach to the green. The second hole is a 47-1yard par 5 that plays longer and has a very small green guarded well by bunkers. The third hole â a par 4, 375 yards â features a slight dogleg and offers a gamble to long hitters.
The par-4 fourth hole, just 353 yards, has the narrowest fairway on the course. A tee shot that is a little errant will be hitting out from trees on either side. But after that, the fifth (a downhill par-3, 167 yards) and sixth (par-4, 378 yards, dogleg left) ease off.
Then comes the longest (and probably best) hole on the course â the par-5, 530-yard seventh hole. The tee shot has to be fairly precise, but the second shot has such a wide area to land in that even the most errant shot will likely have an approach to the green. But that third shot will be to a large green guarded in front by bunkers (no rolling the ball up here).
After easing through the par-4, 397-yard eighth hole, the front nine concludes with a par-3, 145-yard downhill tee shot to a large green guarded on both sides by bunkers (the bunkers on the left being steep).
It is a nice finish.
And it leads into a slightly shorter (by about 80 yards), but probably more difficult back nine. While you might have some room to play around on the 10th hole (par-4, 366 yards), you will need a bit more of a precise shot on the par-3, 138-yard 11th hole. And on the 12th, you will need to hit your approach over the lake to a small, elevated green.
If you survive that, the 13th hole is a par-5, 506-yard challenge that features a fairly narrow fairway and very few flat lies. A couple of good shots can get some golfers to this green in two. Then comes the par-4, 395-yard 14th hole, which really requires a decent tee shot in order to get home in two.
The par-5, 485-yard 15th hole will punish those who stray off the fairway. But it is a nice looking hole, with the second and third shots heading downhill to a green nestled against the trees. The par-3, 151-yard 16th hole angles uphill with a huge bunker in front that gobbles up all the short shots.
Things flatten out on the par-4, 17th hole and finish strong on the straightforward par-4, 330-yard 18th hole.
Those who havenât played this course in several years may disparage it, but it has definitely come around since then and lends itself to a pleasurable round of golf.