On July 30, Blackledge Country Club at 180 West Street in Hebron unveiled a new, massive outdoor practice facility that is second to none.
The golfing oasis features 40 hitting stations, numerous target greens and bunkers, 7,500 square feet of putting greens, and much more.
Owner Bill Anderson said the development is the newest improvement aimed to make the public course a destination spot for both experienced and novice golfers, as well as families to enjoy together.
“It’s very unique. It’s well beyond what is out there.” Anderson said about the gorgeous golf facility.
It’s the latest expansion for a nearly 60-year-old establishment that first opened in 1963 and prides itself on being “a public course with a private touch.”
Anderson is a second generation owner, taking over in 1984 and running a facility with his late-father, Ernie, who previously ran the business with his three partners.
In 1995, the original facility added nine more holes and another nine holes in 2000. In expanding to a 36-hole venue, the facility lost its previous practice range and the plan was to someday rebuild new state-of-the-art one.
Anderson knew the land across the street from the club would make and ideal location for a practice facility and had a chance to buy the property, which was farmland, but was unable to obtain the land until it became available again in the spring of 2020. Anderson jumped at the second chance and two years later the facility came to fruition.
“It came back around, which usually never happens. You usually only get one shot,” recalled Anderson. “We thought it was meant to be.”
With the help of Anderson’s two sons and the club’s Director of Operations, Kevin Higgins, construction of the practice facility broke ground on August 1, 2021 before its grand opening almost exactly a year later.
Anderson said his sons and third generation partners, Chris and Ryan, were instrumental with “putting the pieces” together during the construction.
Following a year of meticulous planning and developing, the facility debuted last weekend and Higgins said the opening was a smashing success.
“It was definitely well received,” Higgins said of the beautifully manicured 12-acres of open greenery. “When people see it for the first time they’re awe-struck.”
Known as The “Bea” Practice Facility at Blackledge — named in memory of Anderson’s mother, Beatrice, whose family’s roots in Hebron date back to the Mayflower — features a picturesque barn-style building surrounded by a massive putting green and seemingly endless fairways, bunkers, and target greens that are ideal for practice.
Blackledge also maintained some of the vibe of the original property by building over 800 linear feet of stonewall with stones from the land and repurposing the granite posts from the foundations of the old farmhouse that burnt down three decades ago.
Nicole Damarjian was also brought aboard as the Director of Instruction at the new practice facility. Damarjian, who was recently awarded Golf Digest’s Best in the State and a Top 50 Instructor from the Ladies Professional Golf Association, will also head up youth programs and other special events throughout the season.
The new practice facility is located directly across the main entrance of Anderson’s Glen, which was the original 18-hole course, known as the “Old Course”. The newer 18-hole course, known as Gilead Highlands, offers a fresh look and feel that differs from the original course.
Higgins, who has also been a golf instructor at the club since 1992, said the pair of courses gives golfers “two different experiences”.
Blackledge is a year round facility, featuring a full Pro Shop and a Golf Simulator for the winter months that allow patrons to play some of the world’s best courses virtually.
An award winning restaurant, Blackledge River Tavern & Sports Pub, offers a full menu with local beer on tap. They currently have a Summer Music Series, featuring live music on Friday and Saturday nights through Labor Day.
During the winter months, the club offers cross-country skiing on the property and the plan is to someday add a swimming pool to the growing lists of amenities.
“We want to have it all, the whole enchilada,” said Anderson, who is proud that the club is able to maintain his experienced staff throughout the year, “That is why our customer service is so good and the continuity of our business is so good. We have people that have been here for 30 years.”
Higgins believes the addition of the practice facility makes Blackledge a welcoming destination for players of all ability levels.
“We have all the facilities, a great restaurant, two courses, and this adds another level,” stated Higgins. “There is no practice facility like it anywhere else in the state, especially for public courses. It’s really special.”
For more information on everything that Blackledge has to offer, including hours and rates, or to book a tee time, visit blackledgecc.net online or call 860-228-0250.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin