Apes Hill Club - Fairway VillaFAIRWAY LIFESTYLE

Arnold Palmer course anchors The Greens at Gillette Ridge golf community near Hartford, Connecticut

By Katharine Dyson,
Special contributor

BLOOMFIELD, Conn. - The only Arnold Palmer-designed course in Connecticut, Gillette Ridge Golf Club is a fitting backdrop for The Greens at Gillette Ridge, located off Route 218 in Bloomfield.

Although Gillette Ridge Golf Club is owned by the mega insurance company CIGNA and the residential community is being developed by Ginsburg Development Company (GDC), both are working together to give residents the good life: country vistas, golf, club amenities and space.

GDC, a New York-based company specializing in luxury real estate developments, was founded in 1963 when Martin Ginsburg and his brothers Sam and Jerome built their first home. In addition to The Greens at Gillette Ridge, more than 10,000 residential units have been built during the company's 45-year corporate history.

So named because the 72 acres once belonged to 19th century Connecticut politician and business leader Francis Gillette, the golf club and The Greens at Gillette Ridge are close to the state capitol, making it a good location for those going in and out of the city.

Greens at Gillette Ridge - Clubhouse"The Greens at Gillette Ridge is the only golf course community of its kind in the Hartford area," said Martin Ginsburg, founder and principal of GDC. "Our residents have panoramic golf course views, an exquisitely designed Arnold Palmer course to play on and one of the best clubhouses in the region - it's an unbeatable combination."

The use of stone, clapboard and brick along with design details like gables and pitched roofs create an attractive, New England-style neighborhood. There are three town-home designs and six single-family home-plans averaging 1,700 to 3,500 square feet. Prices range from the mid-$300,000s to low $750,000s.

Ceilings are nine feet and hardwood floors are used throughout the homes. Kitchens have luxury amenities like granite countertops; baths have Corian-topped vanities.

Since work began in February 2005, 77 percent of the single-family homes and 69 percent of the town homes have been sold. According to Ginsburg, "Sales are good. Granted the current condition of the market is not the greatest, but with the high quality of GDC's construction, we continue to do well."

When built out (June 2010), there will be 91 single-family homes and 74 town homes, as well as a residents' clubhouse with lounges, exercise room and pool. Helping to move some real estate, GDC's 45th Anniversary Program offered buyer incentives including an opportunity to win $45,000 to $335,000 toward the purchase of a GDC home.

As the land is being built out, one section is completed before the next is started. Sections A and B are now completed with C, the final phase, under construction. A residents' fee of $377 per month covers the cost of landscaping, exterior maintenance and other services.

On the drawing board is the town home community, The Hamlet at Gillette Ridge, a neighborhood of 60 homes which will be linked to The Greens with access to the clubhouse, game room, fitness center and heated outdoor pool.

Gillette Ridge Golf Club

Opening in 2004, Gillette Ridge Golf Club is one reason why many decide to buy here. Named by The Best of the Northeast Magazine as the best conditioned golf course in Connecticut, the course is managed by the MDC Golf Group.

Gillette Ridge Golf ClubAfter teeing off on No. 1, the only bunker-free hole on the course, you can look forward to a series of testy risk and reward tests. Like the 505 yard second hole, a par 5, where you can go for the green in two and risk landing in the pond fronting the green.

Water and bunkers come into play on several holes, as do ravines, like on the 612-yard seventh hole, the no. 1 handicap hole. It requires navigating through a tree-lined fairway to a green protected by water and a deep ditch.

Hole 10, a 430-yard dogleg left, starts off the back nine with a bang, a carry over water to the fairway. Catch the Isamu Noguchi sculptures on the right side of the fairway.

Even as you head to home, you're not home free. Hole No. 18, the longest par 4 on the course at 478 yards, forces you to drive over wetlands, split the fairway bunkers and then carry the pond and water guarding the green.

The course hosts several statewide tournaments, including the CIGNA Golf Classic, and maintains an active e-mail promotional program to inform golfers about specials both on the course and in the clubhouse.

Contained in the 6,000-square-foot clubhouse is a full-service restaurant and grill room, patio, locker rooms, pro shop, bar and meeting rooms.

Although residents of The Greens at Gillette Ridge do not have special playing privileges, Gillette Ridge offers an annual VIP Platinum Membership at $3,000 per person, $1,000 for a spouse and an additional $300 for each child 17 years old and younger. Membership includes unlimited play, 14-day advance reservations, use of the practice facility, USGA handicap services, special events and golf privileges at a number of other courses. Corporate memberships are also available. For more information, see www.gilletteridge.com, www.gilletteridgegolf.com or www.gdc-homes.com.

Katharine Dyson is a golf and travel writer for several national publications as well as guidebook author and radio commentator. Her journeys have taken her around the world playing courses and finding unique places to stay. She is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, Metropolitan Golf Writers of America; Golf Travel Writers Organization and Society of American Travel Writers.

March 12, 2009

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.

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