Western New York Golfers Take Notice! Time to Tee It Up!

Your fearless Author at Chestnut Hill in April of 2014!

Your fearless author at Chestnut Hill in April of 2014!

The temperatures have started to rebound, and we golfers begin to crawl from our homes to see the gift of sunshine and grass! It’s spring here in Western New York and after The Masters Golf Tournament last week, and for most of us (crazy golfers), it’s time to start the golfing season here in Western New York! That said, where should you spend your money to get the best value for your buck, and your game!

Not every course is going to suit every player in Western New York, and with that I must offer full disclosure that your author finished up last year as a six handicap (a handicap is how many strokes to par your score is on average). Each course that I would play may not be the ideal one for you and your buddies, but the amount of public courses per players locally means that each skill set has more than enough places to challenge their game and fit their budget. Without further ado here are some of the public places you and your buddies should check out, based on the state of your game!

Don't forget Delaware Park has a nine hole golf course!

Don’t forget Delaware Park has a nine hole golf course!

Handicap – 20-infinity (score range low 90’s till infinity) – First things first, if you weren’t great at baseball, would you take it up at the highest level? Probably not, so maybe some of the more difficult courses in the area should be down on the list for you. Remember pace of play, and etiquette are just as important as the score you shoot. That said for golfers that need to fine tune things, these courses offer a fair value and challenge that may just get you to come back and play again.

  • Grover Cleveland Golf Course – Located on the outskirts of the City of Buffalo, this land was once home to the Country Club of Buffalo, and it hosted the US Open in 1912. The course itself is less of a challenge then it was in those days, owned by the county, it’s where I grew my golf game as a child. The layout is mostly flat and offers water on only one hole (the 17th), which really doesn’t even come into play. It’s a simple design, but it’s affordable and easily walk able, though they do have golf carts. Great for beginners looking to hone their game.
  • Dande Farms  – Located past Akron, it’s a hike to get too, but the drive is worth it. It’s hilly, and water comes into play a bit. But it’s an open golf course that affords players some mistakes and leaves and enjoyable experience playing. The greens are also in generally great condition.  They also have carts, but walking should be encouraged.
  • Audubon Golf Course – The course itself is located minutes from UB in Amherst and is always in pristine condition. The back nine is especially challenging, and offers some beautiful scenery near the Audubon Nature Reserve. Water will come into play but not often. The course is not incredibly hilly, but some shots may find uneven lies. The also have a new practice range, and across the street sits the Audubon par 3 which is ideal for kids. Both courses are great for beginners.

Other courses include Brighton GC, Cazenovia GC, and Delaware Park, are great for learners and beginners.

Beautiful layout on the 9th at Ironwood GC

Beautiful layout on the 9th at Ironwood GC

Handicap – 19 -10 (score range 91-82) – Want a little challenge? Don’t mind the sight of an island green? Water never scared you? Uneven lies aren’t an issue? Then these courses are right up your alley!

  • Chestnut Hill CC – Hilly, Beautiful views and challenging holes and some water make this place the step up for those trying to improve their game. It’s not going to make you tear out your hair, but make no mistake, this course is not a push over! Chances are if you’ve played in a Best Ball tournament in western New York at some point you’ve played here. One other thing, they are very reasonable so rounds book quickly.
  • South Shore Golf Course – This place can be tricky, it’s a tighter layout, with lots of ups and down. Their is water throughout and it comes into play quite often. If you’re up to the challenge then this place may be your poison. One thing, the greens always seem to be a work in progress, fyi.
  • Ironwood GC – This may be one of the best kept secrets in all of Western New York, though it’s a hike located in Cowlesville (just off the 400 near Wales, NY) I play here even if it’s a mid range course in my book. I love the layout, and the greens may be some of the best in WNY! Silky smooth and some tough holes make this a definite step up. Only issue, is the fairway and rough can meander into one another sometimes. Try this place out this year, and I know you’ll love it!

Other courses in this difficulty range include Buffalo Tournament Club, Deerwood GC, and Sheridan Golf Course.

A stunning clubhouse and course setup make the Links at Ivy Ridge one of my favorites! - Photo via www.golfrochesterguide.net

A stunning clubhouse and course setup make the Links at Ivy Ridge one of my favorites! – Photo via http://www.golfrochesterguide.net

Handicap – 10 – Scratch (score range – 82-even par (72,71,70)) – I am only selecting a few here but some of the above mentioned intermediate courses can fall in this range if you like. I on the other hand picked these places because they always seem to be a great challenge!

  • Arrowhead – It’s had it’s issues, receivership for a few years, issues with some greens, and lack of turf on fairways. That said though, this is a test. When the wind is up this plays like a real links course, and the 18th hole may just be one of the toughest in all of WNY! Worth a look, but remember if you’re a high handicapper then keep up your pace of play. No one wants to play a six and a half hour round of golf!
  • Harvest Hill GC – Located in West Seneca this course is a beast. Multiple sets of tees can change the whole experience around for everyone. Tight lies, blind shots, and very pure greens make this place a serious challenge even for the best golfers in the area. They also have an amazing practice facility and is home to the First Tee of Western New York. The only major issue I have is price, which I feel is a little much for the course. Still a must play if you love golf.
  • Seneca Hickory Stick – located towards the Lewiston area, this may be the premier stop for serious golfers in WNY. I should note that it you do not fall in the Handicap range above, this place may not be your cup of tea. That said it’s pricey but worth ever single penny! If you want to play a place that pro’s should come to, then check out Hickory Stick!
  • The Links At Ivy Ridge – This is my favorite course in Western New York hands down! It is a true links style course, and I should know I’ve played St. Andrews, Royal Lytham and Annes and a few others overseas. This is the closest I’ve ever come in Western New York to that feeling. I love the greens (huge expansive), the course is always ready to play (amazing irrigation meaning carts are allowed to roam, even as early as the 15th of April) and is very reasonably priced for the challenge it offers. The wind changes mean you almost rarely play the same shot or style of golf everytime! It’s a must play for any serious golfer.

Other Golf Courses in this difficultly range include  – Peek and Peek (Upper), Diamondhawk, and Glen Oaks GC.

So there you have it Buffalo and Western New York, get out there and enjoy this weather after that crazy winter we had. You never know when we’ll have to hang the clubs up again!


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