The debut this spring of the daily-fee North Course at Lake of Isles in southeastern Connecticut will complete a journey that's been long. And rocky. The Mashantucket Pequot tribal nation, owners of Foxwoods Resort Casino, originally approached Robert Trent Jones Sr. more than fifteen years ago with the idea of creating a thirty-six-hole père-fils tandem on a former Boy Scout reservation.
When Jones the elder passed away in 2000, his son Rees, who at that point had six U.S. Open course makeovers and dozens of original designs to his credit, inherited the entire project. He needed every bit of guile and experience to complete the assignment. Scoured by glaciers during the last ice age, the Nutmeg State in these parts is a forested rock pile. "This is a spectacular piece of ground," Jones says, "but not many people could have built on it."
There was an upside, though. "Because of all the rock, we couldn't build very fast," Jones explains. The extra time gave him and his team a chance to dig their ideas a little deeper into the glacial till. Despite the extensive use of dynamite, the North course fits the land beautifully. Wide, rolling fairways, carved into wooded ridges above an existing man-made lake, flow seamlessly through the trees. Putting surfaces are subtly contoured and nicely framed by bunkers, hillocks and granite outcrops. On lower ground, wetlands indent the landing areas and front several greens. Long wooden bridges span the lake and stitch the back nine together. A natural ridge partially shields players from the hubbub of the casino across the street.
A championship-caliber facility that has two courses, Lake of Isles is worthy of hosting a pro event—and in fact a composite routing, including holes from both eighteens, has already been mapped to accommodate this possibility. The private South course is a little longer, but the public-access North, at 7,252 yards, is more rugged and is rated a little tougher, befitting New England's best new course.
Greens Fees: $95$175. Tee Times: 888-475-3746 or visit lakeofisles.com.