BERLIN — Timberlin Golf Course is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and there is plenty to toast about the course.
The course opened on July 1, 1970, and has been under the watch of three head golf professionals over the half century.
It all began with the inaugural pro Lindsey Hansen (1970-2006), followed by Jeff Coderre (2006-2010) and current pro Marc Bayram, who has held the post since 2011.
“I look forward to continuing the many traditions that has made Timberlin such a special place for 50 years,” Bayram said.
Timberlin has produced some of the best players in the state's history including four-time Connecticut Open champion and Connecticut amateur champ Kyle Gallo as well as Cody Paladino, also a CT Open and state amateur champion.
The course host matches for the boys and girls Berlin High School squads. The Redcoat boys have won nine state titles and the girls have garnered four.
Timberlin also boasts strong Men's and Ladies Club organizations, as well as a top-notch Junior Golf program. Bayram was honored as the recipient of the 2015 Youth Player Development Award because of the strength of the junior golf program.
The town acquired Timberlin's 365 acres in 1966.
In 1969, the Parks & Recreation Commission led by Dr. Jack Kiniry developed the plans for an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, parking area, access roads, maintenance buildings, and a two-story multi-purpose building that included the clubhouse, pro shop, and dining facility.
Al Zikorus designed a high quality golf course that could be maintained at a reasonable price. It was built by general contractor Angelo Tomasso Inc. The first event on July 1, 1970 was an 18-hole shotgun event. The golf course was unveiled by opening tee shots by Head Pro Lindsey Hansen and Mayor Arthur Powers. The tradition of the golf professional hitting the first tee shot of the season continues to this day.
Southington resident Jon Rustek grew up in Berlin and was a caddie the day the course opened.
“The town put out an article in the New Britain Herald to see if kids would like to caddy,” Rustek said. “I signed up. There was a bunch of us kids there and we were able to have a great time learning about sports.”
Rustek was 15 at the time and recently turned 65. He still plays Timberlin almost every day with his wife.
“We walk 18 holes every day,” Rustek said. “It’s a great walking golf course. There are about 25 trees on the course that have been dedicated to my friends over the years. It’s a nice tribute.”
Rustek grew up on Chamberlain Highway and his parents bought him a season pass and the golf course is where he spent the summers of his youth.
“I remember when I was in grammar school and we would see the bulldozers out there and the greens being built,” Rustek said. “Fifty years went by in a heartbeat.”
Southington resident Peter Anop also grew up in Berlin and started playing at Timberlin when he was 12. He was also on hand the day the course opened.
“When it first opened the pro shop was a trailer in the parking lot,” Anop said. “It has blossomed so much since.”
Anop said golfing kept him and his friends out of trouble. He said they used to jump into the pond on hole No. 12 to collect golf balls.
Now 62, Anop plays at Timberlin three days a week at an 11-handicap.
Timberlin has been recognized as one of the state’s top public golf courses over the years and and has been the recipient of the CTPGA Walter Lowell Award presented to the public golf course that serves as the model public golf course each year.
“Throughout my 10 years at Timberlin, I have been fortunate to build so many relationships with the town, the customers, and the residents of Berlin,” Bayram said. “Timberlin Golf Course is a very special place and a beautifully designed public golf course. It is great for any skill level and has 18 great holes of golf.”