Brookfield Golf Legend Honed His Skill on Sunset Hill
My grandfather bought me my first set of clubs when I was probably about 10 or 11. He bought those starter clubs with the slick blue grips for me because “he was going to need a partner” when he made his daily journey to Safari Golf Course, the local public pasture pool links. My love of golf followed me from high school to the present day. So, naturally, I have been looking for places to play in the Danbury area and the very first one I looked up had an interesting story tied to it.
How cool would it be to have your own golf course next to your house? According to Jack Rowley in a 2007 Connecticut Golf article, Sunset Hill Golf Club is one such course right here in our own backyard of Brookfield. Known as “The Country Squire,” professional golf legend, Gene Sarazen, built the small golf course next to his farmhouse in Brookfield in the 1930s. The small course was used for personal practice by Sarazen and may have been one of the catalysts for perhaps the greatest shot in the history of The Masters, a Double Eagle to win the tournament in 1935.
In addition to being a regular at the Shoreline Open at Mill River Golf Club in Stratford, Sarazen played many exhibition matches in the state. In 1938, he set the then-course record 63 at West Hartford’s Rockledge Country Club. He also played at The Country Club in Torrington, Wethersfield Country Club, and attended the opening of the second nine holes at the Tumble Brook Country Club in Bloomfield Center. Sarazen was inducted into the Connecticut Golf Association’s Hall of Fame in 1962.
Sadly after a few years of practice, Sarazen moved away from Brookfield and the course deteriorated. We can all thank a man named John Urkiel for eventually restoring the course after World War II and becoming what it is today. The second, sixth, and eighth greens are original and several changes have transpired over time, but the roots that a golf legend created at Sunset Hill Golf Club is pretty cool and it’s a place I plan on playing real soon. I know my grandfather would have loved playing the course with me, but he was a Sam Snead kind of guy.
Pic of Byron Nelson, Gene Sarazen, and Sam Snead.