Golf for Everyone

As golf continued to grow in popularity, new golf courses were constructed across the country at a rapid rate. Rather than private country clubs, however, more of these courses were public or commercial daily-fee courses, open to anyone. Today, Fairfield has more public holes for golf than any town in the state.

In Fairfield, the South Pine Creek Par 3 course was opened in 1969 as part of the town’s South Pine Creek Recreation Area. The nine-hole course was designed by renowned golf course architect Geoffrey Cornish to be “interesting for the low handicapper but not discouraging to the high handicapper.” George Risley, long-time golf pro at the nearby Country Club of Fairfield, served as the course’s first pro.

The need for a public golf course was met more fully with the opening of the town’s H. Smith Richardson Golf Course in 1971. Former Selectman Eunice Postol recalled, “There was a tremendous need for a town golf course because not too many people can afford to belong to a country club and of those who can, a lot can’t get into it.” H. Smith Richardson (president of the Vicks Chemical Company, later known as Richardson-Merrell) contributed 271 acres off Morehouse Highway; 153 acres became an 18-hole golf course and 88 acres became conservation land, named after his wife, Grace Jones Richardson. First Selectman John Sullivan, a supporter of the golf course although not a golfer himself, hit the first ball at the official opening of the 18-hole course.

Known for its sweeping terrain, including some of the highest views in town along the back nine, the course has a reputation for challenging better players. Three years after it opened, it was named as one of the top ten public golf courses in Connecticut.  Mickey Homa, who played in nine national opens and five PGA championships in the 1950s and 1960s, served as the golf pro at H. Smith Richardson from its opening until his retirement in 1995.