Mohegan Sun Golf Club – From ‘Sunrise’ To ‘Sunset’ Lighting-Up Your Golf Adventure.

There is always a sense of excitement each occasion you play a new golf course.

You have the excitement with any new journey in discovering where a new course will take you, what obstacles you may face, will the course be appeasing to the eye and, of course, most importantly whether or not your golf game is up to the challenge the 18 holes will present you.

Best of all, you will stand on the opening tee with no real sense of fear unlike if you were playing at your home club and knowing there are areas of your own course just waiting to again jump-up and bite you.

This was my feeling stepping onto the first tee for a first time at Mohegan Sun Country Club course close to the town of Baltic in  south-eastern Connecticut.

Mohegan Sun County Club tested my golf game and while I was taken ‘prisoner’ on a couple of holes, for the most part it was an ideal marriage of finding the fairways, playing a good second shot on the way to hopefully being rewarded with par, and on the one occasion with this 15-handicapper delighted to walk off with a birdie.

A strong point of mine in continuing to play the ancient club-and-ball game is that a golf course has to look good, free of any rubbish lying about, maybe a few broken tees but not a littany of cigarette butts and water hazards while there to catch any errant shot certainly not areas where you want to see empty drink cans.

The opening hole at the Mohegan Sun Golf Club (Photo @tourmiss)

2nd Hole Mohegan Sun, GC Connecticut (Photo @tourmiss)

The view into the third hole at Mohegan Sun GC (Photo – @tourmiss)

None of that evident at Mohegan Sun as I easily ran down the charge on my mobile phone taking snap shots of the course and surrounds.

It is no surprise in researching this feature article Mohegan Sun has long been ranked by the New England Golf Resort magazine as top-10 in its ‘Best Resort Courses’.

It was a golf course having played it once, I was keen with the knowledge now gleaned to play it again, and again.

Short history of Mohegan Sun Country Club 

Canadian-born Geoffrey Cornish designed the initial and then named Pautipaug Country Club golf course in 1960 and it was among over 200 new golf courses and 9-hole additions he undertook, including the Pines Course at the International Golf Club in Bolton, Massachusetts that once boasted the longest course in world when competing from the ‘Tiger’ tees, and so named long before Tiger Woods was born.

The view off the 4th tee at Mohegan Sun GC (Photo – @tourmiss)

View into the green at the 5th hole at Mohegan Sun (Photo @tourmiss)

Seven years after designing the then named Pautipaug course, Cornish became a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, along with the renowned Peter Dye and Robert Trent Jones, Jn.  Cornish then in 1975 became President of the Society while he was an honorary member of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects before passing away in 2012 aged 97.

A decade earlier in 2002, designer Stephen Kay and based in New Jersey, was asked to build several new teeing areas and the rework the bunkers on the still named Pautipaug Country Club.

The biggest change in a now 53-year history came about in 2007 when the Mohegan Casino Resort’s owners, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, purchased the Pautipaug club with the aim of bringing a high-quality golf experience under the Mohegan Sun umbrella.

Following the purchase, the owners turned to Robert McNeil of the Northeast Golf Company, and quoting from the company’s website, to steer a reported $4.4m comprehensive golf course enhancement plan, driven by the imminent expiry of a water allocation permit and need to develop a self-sustaining water resource management program.

What trouble? The view off the 6th tee at Mohegan Sun and, apart from a bunker left, no indication of the trouble that can lay ahead (Photo @tourmiss)

One of a cluster of five bunkers on the dog-leg at the 6th and looking into the distant green (Photo @tourmiss)

A waterfall feature short of the 6th green at Mohegan Sun, GC and with the green visible in the distance. (Photo – @tourmiss)

What a great-looking golf hole and looking back on the 6th hole (Photo – @tourmiss)

At the same time, they felt the course was in need of updating to accommodate a rise in play that was expected from existing and new members, and resort guests. Improvements to tees, greens and irrigation were all required.

McNeil, and also a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, oversaw enhancements to what would become Mohegan Sun County Club.

The renovation construction began in August 2010 and in partnering with irrigation and construction specialists, the Rhode Island-based McNeil and his team developed a self-sustaining system of three large lakes which were integrated into the design and strategy of several new holes. All drainage and rainfall is captured within the lakes, which have also eliminated historical flooding of adjacent roadways.

The 7th hole and the view off the tee. Notice how the fairway is split in the distance by a long narrow bunker. (Photo – @tourmiss)

Looking into the 7th green (Photo – @tourmiss)

The par-3 uphill 8th hole and index 15 on the Mohegan Sun GC scorecard (Photo – @tourmiss)

From the green at the 8th hole looking back to the tee. (Photo – @tourmiss)

New tee complexes were built on all holes providing enlarged surfaces and more options for length and angle of
play while 65 new bunkers were constructed in a consistent style that is unique to Mohegan Sun and work was also
completed on greens and cart paths.

The improvements, again according to the McNeil website, had an immediate effect, with existing members retained and many new members engaged. The design goals were achieved and the course now avoids closure following rain.

“Credit should be given to the late Geoffrey Cornish, ASGCA, the course’s original designer,” said McNeil. “Part of the reason for the purchase was the overall soundness of the golf course’s lay on the land.”

The course has been closed on August 1st, 2010 and with the redesign project completed in 2012.

The ‘halfway house’ at the back of the 8th green at Mohegan Sun (Photo @tourmiss)

Bunkering on the dog-leg at the par-4 ninth hole and with the Mohegan Sun cluhouse also in the distance. (Photo – @tourmiss)

The 11th green at Mohegan Sun (Photo – @tourmiss)

 

The Mohegan Sun Course 

What better name for the first and last holes at a golf club that has the word ‘sun’ in it’s name.

That’s what you find at Mohegan Sun with the opening hole, a par-4 at 395-yards of the white tees, appropriately named ‘Sunrise’ and the last, an uphill par-5 at 504-yards, named ‘Sunset’.

In between ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Sunset’ you have ‘Trapped’, a blind downhill dog-leg right par-5 of 485-yards at the sixth, ‘Missing Pine’, the up-hill dog-leg left par-4 of 411-yards at the ninth, ‘Double Down’, and as it implies two downhill shots at the par-4 of 353-yards at the 12th and then there’s ‘From The Earth’ which is the name of the 15th hole and a par-4 of 353-yards at the 15th.

The view off the 12th tee with the green out of sight at this dog-leg right downhill par-4. (Photo @tourmiss)

The view into the 12th hole green (Photo @tourmiss)

The view into the par-5 12th hole at Mohegan Sun GC (Photo @tourmiss)

 

 

 

Mohegan Sun offers four different tees – Black measuring 6,790 yards; Blue at 6,471 yards; White measuing 6,111 and for the Ladies, the Red tees play to 5,742-yards.

There is your traditional mix of each nine boasting two par-5s, five par-4s and a pair of par-3s.

The No. 1 index hole is the up-hill par-4 7th measuring 399-yards off the back tee, 384-yards off the Blue and is a challenge of 374-yards teeing-off the yellow tees.

The ‘easiest’ or No. 18 hole is the par-3 16th and ranging from 160-yards to 154-yards and 145-yards.

Great bunkering on the dog-leg at the 17th hole (Photo @tourmiss)

The first Koala ever seen at Mohegan Sun and Bernie’s headcover (Photo @tourmiss)

Holes 2 to 8 form the southern, western and north boundary of the coure while 12 along with 13 the eastern boundary while holes 1, 10, 11 and then 14 to 18 are within those confines.

A good aspect of the Mohegan Sun lay-out is that it is a relative stress-free introduction to the challenge presenting you with a trio of par-4s rated with an index respectively of 11, 13 and 3 ahead of the first par-3 measuring 181-yards off the blue tees and the 17 index hole.

Then you’re faced with a pair of very contrasting par-5s, the fourth where for this 15-handicapper it’s all about laying-up short of a small stream that cuts the hole in half hitting much like a ‘6pm’ to ’12 noon’ shot, and the next being a ‘shot’ to a distant green lying in a ’10am’ location.

I have to now confess standing on the tee at the par-5 sixth hole and all by myself with no playing partner I did not know where I was going.  Playing off the white tees all I had was 458-yards. I could not see a bunker down the left side or a cluster of five bunkers on what was the driving line, and located on the browl of the hill.

The view off ‘Sunset’ and the final hole at Mohegan Sun (Photo @tourmiss)

Your view in playing a second shot into the green at the 18th (Photo @tourmiss)

Bunkering left of the green at the 18th at Mohegan Sun (Photo @tourmiss)

It reminded me of playing golf in Scotland and Ireland where on some holes all you can do it pick a spot and simply trust your swing and this is what I did before heading off in the direction of my drive.   I stopped to take photos of a picture-postcard hole.  There was water for any shot long and left and with the water also guarding the green, and there was a waterfall feature to the right.

And there on the fairway was my tee shot that had somehow missed the cluster of bunkers.  Not wishing to ruin my good fortune, I laid-up to leave myself around 100-yards to the green and played a decent PW shot and then two putted.  I drove the buggy up the hill and parked just shy of the seventh tee and looked down on the 6th with great delight in having managed a par.

The joy was short-lived in tackling the No. 1 indexed par-4 uphill and slightly dog-leg left seventh hole.  A fabulous hole  with a bunker at close to 280-yards off my white tee and that is around 60-yards long and divides the fairway in two for any second shot to the green.

 

From the par of the day to a double-bogey ‘6’.  Why did they call golf, ‘golf’?

The 18th green and clubhouse at Mohegan Sun GC (Photo @tourmiss)

Next up was the slightly up-hill par-3 ninth and then after passing by the ‘halfway’ house it was tackling a ‘boomerang-shaped’ up-hill par-4 challenge of 400-yards.

You kick-start the back-9 with a downhill par-3 and looking to steer clear of bunkers both left and right of the green.

Just as the fifth and sixth were totally different back-to-back par-5s, so too are the par-4 10th and par-4 11th holes.  The 11th an uphill dog-leg right with trees all down the right side and the 12th a downhiller also dog-legging right but where you don’t see the green off the tee.

It must be something I’ve gleaned playing so much golf in Scotland but what a delight to again walk off with a par from a drive I did not know what lay ahead of me off a distant fairway below.

The par-5 13th is a great risk-and-reward hole for those tempted to go for the green in two but again for a 15-handicapper and great three-shotter ahead a wedge to the green guarded front and left by water.

And meeting the asistant green keeper at Mohegan Sun (Photo @tourmiss)

Fourteen and 15 run side-by-side while the 16th, a par-3 and as mentioned earlier is the No. 18 index hole.

The par-4 downhill dog-leg 17th is a super penultimate hole with a pair of bunkers located on the right side of the fairway at around 210-yards with a bunker about a further 40-yards on the left side.  Anything in between leaves you a second shot around 140-yards to a green guarded by bunkers left.

‘Sunset’ now beckons but it’s also no time to be blinded by light.  A good drive is essential at the uphill par-5 18th to set you up in eventually attacking the final green.  If you’ve found the fairway, you’ll water now in play left while you’ve avoided water right.

Again, for me it was picking a spot to put my second and thus taking out of play a large bunker front and right of the green but in saying this, I found a bunker left and would end with a bogey ‘6’.

I walked to the back of the green and looked back down the fairway thinking to myself what a superb ‘scoreable’ golf course and while there were a few hiccups, not for a moment did I feel I had been unduly punished.

Of course, local knowledge is a big key at Mohegan Sun and I now have that.

The journey had been picturesue, challenging and rewarding and one that I want to travel again, and again.

 

 

 

 

 

 



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