The Connecticut golf center where the sport is taught and the goal is to grow the game – Hartford Courant

MIDDLEFIELD — It’s all about the golf.

Except that at the Lyman Orchard Golf Center, it’s about a whole lot else, too.

There is the camaraderie, the making people feel comfortable, the teaching, the fresh air and even a chance to browse the latest sporty fashion trends for women and kids.

Opened in 2012, the center is part of the Lyman Orchards’ Connecticut golf course group in Middlefield, and serves as the area for lessons, leagues, practice and a par-3 course called the Apple 9. It is across the street from the Lyman Golf Club, which has the 18-hole Jones Course and the Players Course.

At the golf center you will find players of all abilities, children picking up a golf club for the first time, the largest women’s league in New England, and LPGA teaching and coaching professional Marissa Kulig Crow, who was the LPGA 2021 national teacher of the year.

“We are giving them confidence. We have fun,” Kulig Crow said of the teaching and golf games. “My students feel my passion.”

The goal, she said, is growing the game of golf.

Lyman Orchard Golf Center

Center Director of Golf John Dipollina agrees about the passion for golf, the fun and notes the general life lessons the sport can offer to children. His own son, 8, is learning the game, he said, and rather than comment on his son’s game, he will comment, “I saw you were a very good boy.”

“It’s about respecting other people, (learning that) it’s OK to fail,” said Dipollina, also an award-winning coach who began his job at the center in 2018 after working at The Hartford Golf Club. He started playing golf at about age 15, he said.

Lisa Millerick said her four children all learned the game at the center, and it became her family’s “home away from home.”

“Its warmth, the friendly faces we see, and the youth walking around the golf center truly make us feel happy and comfortable,” said Millerick, owner of Lisa Millerick Photography in Southington.

Millerick said the family first met Dipollina about seven years ago at another local golf course when her children were then 13,12,11 and 2 and they “began to develop their love of the game.”

That golf course closed, she said, and they went to Lyman knowing it had a kids program. But it was after Dipollina became the director of the Lyman Orchard Golf Center that her family’s “love of the game grew beyond what I could have hoped.”

“Coach Dipollina grew the kids program to where it is today, and Lyman Golf Center truly welcomes kids of all abilities to learn and, more importantly, love the game of golf,” Millerick said. “Our youngest, Sean, now 10 years old, has literally grown up at Lyman and is an active participant of all things Lyman and golf. The course is a perfect set-up for a young family and offers the best of both worlds, from growing the game to playing competitively. Sean asks to go to Lyman almost every day, and would if he could, because it has built up his confidence and success in more ways than one could hope for a young child. The coaches are all phenomenal with each one lending a hand or advice when they see a child on the course struggling or trying to develop their game.

“It is a positive environment that fosters the love of the game, the respect of the game and develops your game without the pressure of growing too quickly.”

Millerick said her family is grateful for how the program helped her children and others “grow at their own pace” and that allowed her to play competitively but continue to love the sport well beyond high school.

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“Anyone of any age and any ability can come here and play a game,” Dipollina said. “I don’t think you can do that with football.”

The game also gets players outside and spending time with friends and family, he said.

“When else do you get to hang out with anyone for four hours now,” he said rhetorically. “It’s about relationships too; that is so rewarding.

“We really are one golfer at a time.”

Dipollina also noted the way the center run starts “at the very top,” meaning with the Lyman family, which established its orchard in 1741.

“We couldn’t do anything here without our team,” he said. “We’re a big team.”

In addition to lessons for all ages and abilities and the Apple 9, the center has a short game practice area and large putting practice area and players can get buckets of balls at varying prices from $6 to $15. Lesson prices vary depending on the trainer and whether it is for a group or individual. Find more information at