Back in the day, when a glamorous amusement park called Crystal Beach was booming across the border, scads of Buffalonians crossed bridges and took ships to the Canadian shore of Lake Erie. Not far from the park and the birthplace of Loganberry, a marvelous golf course and its club offer a challenging layout, crafted by one of the game’s finest practitioners, Walter J. Travis. The Cherry Hill Club has been a summer home to many of western New York’s finest golfers over the years. Recently, headed by executive professional Jeremy Broom, the club “answered” some questions for us. In the midst of a preferred membership initiative, Cherry Hill offers a tremendous golf course for the honing of one’s game, and a delightful club filled with opportunities and activities for young and old alike.
- What can you tell us about Cherry Hill and its origin?
Cherry Hill Club was founded in 1922. At that time many prominent Buffalo families had property on the north shore of Lake Erie. Many summer activities were enjoyed including water sports and beach activities. Cherry Hill was born from an idea that there should be a golf club in close proximity to the beach community. A location was selected and two farms were purchased which was to be the site of the golf club. Walter J. Travis was engaged to design a championship golf course. In this era of golden-age architects, Travis was a leading golf course designer with a strong belief that a golf course should challenge the strongest players and yet be playable enough that higher handicaps will enjoy their day.
- How has the golf course changed over the years?
Cherry Hill is fortunate to have what is believed the most intact set of original Travis greens. In 2009 the club took on a project to expose the Travis design that had been softened over the years. Ian Andrew, one of Canada’s leading golf course architects and Travis aficionado, removed unnecessary bunkers while adding strategic bunkers, reintroduced short grass areas around greens and tightened grassing lines throughout the golf course. The end product was well received by not only members and guests, but by those in the golf industry. Cherry Hill continues to improve with the guidance of Ian Andrew, further incorporating short-grass areas around green-sites following Travis’ strategies.
- What important events have been held at the club?
Championship golf has had a long history at Cherry Hill. The club held its first Buffalo District Golf Association Championship in 1928 and it continues to be a strong supporter of the amateur association. Professional golf events have also been hosted by Cherry Hill including the:
- 1960 Ontario Open
- 1972 Canadian Open
- 1982 CPGA Championship
- 2011 CPGA Assistants Championship
- 2016 PGATOUR Canada Mackenzie Tour Niagara Championship
- The event at Cherry Hill had the highest scoring average of all events during the 2016 Mackenzie Tour PGATOUR Canada season
Many great champions have played in the various events throughout the years including: George Knudson, Arnold Player, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Gay Brewer, Jim Thorpe, Raymond Floyd, Ben Crenshaw, Mike Belbin, Dan McCarthy, David Pastore and many more.
- What elements of club life make Cherry Hill a special place?
Cherry Hill Club, from its establishment in 1922, has been a historically significant club in the Western New York area and the Niagara Peninsula. The club’s iconic clubhouse continues to be a place where friends meet to celebrate; it is a place for all special occasions. The walkable Walter J. Travis designed golf course remains a stern test for accomplished golfers yet very playable for weekend enthusiasts. A compliment to the golf course is the world class practice facility, including an abundant short game area, found steps from the first tee. The non-tee time system gains members easy access to the golf course while allowing new members to be integrated quickly in the unique culture found at Cherry Hill. A rich tournament schedule is a highlight on our golf calendar; there are events for all those who enjoy the comradery of competition. We have a long history of supporting Junior golf at the club and understand Juniors are the future of the club. Cherry Hill is a club steeped in tradition, but we are also aware of the changing landscape of private clubs and how they must integrate into members busy lives.
- Cherry Hill is unique in its balance of Canadian and US members. Is this evident in the daily goings-on at the club?
The demographics of the club has shifted in recent years. At one point Cherry Hill’s membership was 95% US based but now the membership has blended into a 75% US 25% Canadian mix. More Canadians are calling Cherry Hill home as the Niagara Region becomes a retirement destination. To answer the question, no, Canadian members and US members are in essence the same, they love the club and love the comradery of club life.
- What would be one of the special secrets of Cherry Hill that might not be evident to guests and non-members?
When a guest plays Cherry Hill for the first time they seem to find the speed and slope of the greens challenging, 12.0 is our standard stimp measurement. A friendly reminder is always provided: putts break towards Buffalo…………unless it’s uphill to Buffalo!
Also, members at Cherry Hill have access to an excellent reciprocal program which includes many highly regarded golf and dining clubs in Southern Ontario and Western New York. This value-add program is beneficial as it allows members and their guests to visit other like clubs when they are looking for a change of pace.
- What direction does Cherry Hill plan to take as the 21st century marches on?
Cherry Hill will first and foremost stay true to its heritage and remain a golf club. Cherry Hill is fortunate to have a world class golf course which has stood firm from the test of visiting professional golfers. Maintaining tier one playing conditions will remain a priority while always continuing to enhance the playing experience.
Communication with members and guests through technology is expanding at Cherry Hill. A new club website which will allow for more interaction with public and members is in development. Also, being explored is a smart phone app for the club, which will allow members to communicate with the club and each other in real time.
A quickly approaching highlight is the 100 year anniversary. The club’s centennial celebration is in 2022 and planning has begun for what will be special time with family and friends.
- How might one spend a typical, family day at Cherry Hill, from morning to evening?
Family is important every day the club. A unique program at Cherry Hill, a program that may be one of a kind, is Junior Golf. On Tuesday mornings in July and August the practice facilities and golf course are reserved for over 100 Juniors. Grandparents, who once participated in Junior Golf themselves and at one time brought their own children, are now bringing their grandchildren. This generational support is why such a program continues to flourish today. Our 3, 6, 9 and 18Holers receive instruction and play each week which concludes at the Junior Club Championship’s where friends and family gather to congratulate everyone’s accomplishments.
Another highlight of the summer is Fireworks at Cherry Hill. This summer tradition, celebrating Canada Day and Independence Day is scheduled for every July 2nd. Our first hole transforms into a carnival area including bouncy castles, pony rides, karaoke and balloon artists which entertain those big and small until Fireworks end the evening with a bang!
- How does the staff contribute to the excellence of the club?
Cherry Hill is fortunate to have many long-time employees who have dedicated their lives to serving the members of Cherry Hill. Our members greatly appreciate the efforts of all staff, a family atmosphere has been created, where members believe a part of what makes Cherry Hill so special is the group of people who every day enhance the membership experience at the club.
- What question haven’t we asked, that you would love to answer? Ask it and answer it, please.
How can someone interested in the club find out more about the Cherry Hill experience?
Cherry Hill Club is proud to announce a Preferred Membership Program for 2017. The Cherry Hill Club Preferred Membership Program for 2017 is designed to be an introductory way for those to experience all Cherry Hill has to offer while becoming entrenched in club life. May through August is a memorable time at Cherry Hill when the Season Opening Party, July long weekend and major Golf Tournaments are held. Anyone taking advantage of the Preferred Membership Program offer will have Full Golf privileges and be able to participate in all club activities. Please see our Preferred Membership Program for further information and club contact details.