I have played Tot Hill Farm Golf Club probably half a dozen times, and each time I learn yet another slight nuance of the course. Always "interesting" and many time frustrating, Tot Hill has been Rated 4.5 Stars Best Places to Play & Ranked the 7th Hardest Course in America by Golf Digest. And I think it lives up to it's rankings.
A Mike Strantz 'masterpiece ' is how the course is labelled on it's website. Depending on your perspective and tolerance for pain, that may be true. The course features countless blind shots, tremendous elevation changes, and thought provoking if not profanity rendering green complexes. Add wind, water and plenty of sand to the mix and you have what is Tot Hill.
If you are venturing to play it for the first time, accept several truths before you play and you will possibly return for another round.
Truth 1: Golf isn't always fair and golf courses aren't always fair. Tot Hill exemplifies this. Punishing is the word that comes to mind. For example, hit your approach shot to the back of the green on the Par 5 8 when the pin is on the front of the two-tiered green and it is quite frankly - impossible - to get the ball to stay on the green. Be happy if you're within 10 yards of the green. And good luck reaching the back pin on #9 from the bottom of the fairway. So just accept that sometimes the course wins.
Truth 2: You have to play this course several times to get over the anger and frustration you will feel mid-way through the back 9. Each time you play, you'll learn a few more strategic facts about how to play this golf course.
Truth 3: Strantz courses require you to THINK before you swing. Tot Hill, much like Tobacco Road, is what I call target golf. You have to have a plan, know how to pick you target - or more importantly - know where NOT to hit your ball, and you must be able to execute a wide variety of shots you NEVER have hit before. You cannot walk to the tee and bomb driver and expect to score. You may in fact run out of golf balls before the turn.
Truth 4: Check the ego at the door and move up one (or more) tee boxes. You'll have more fun and get through the round faster.
Anyway, I actually like Tot Hill more than ever after recently playing it. Maybe the 78 I shot had something to do with it but it's also a course where, if you are playing well and playing smart, you can come away with a TKO. You will never KO this course. If you play badly or let the course get to you, you'll be KO'd.
But the course features a very unique layout, rock walls you have to carry, multi-tiered greens with significant elevation changes. Usually in very good condition, even in the winter, it's a fun and entertaining - bring a worse golfer than you so you can have some fun as they explode! - and different golf course.
CLubhouse is well stocked, and management is friendly. Don't expect a fast pace of play with the difficulty level.
And you'll want a GPS or laser range finder. Those elevation changes can kill you if you miss the green.
Overall though, fun course in a warped sort of way but a good value and if you keep your cool, you'll have a good time - again, move up a tee box or two!