I apologize for the lateness of this week’s submission. I spent the week playing 162 holes of golf in the Pinehurst / Roanoke areas, and my iPad was not cooperating with my intention to submit the article during my ride south. But, I definitely had some ideas on other holes that may have been worthy of consideration.
Ironwood ~ 397 yard Par 4
In the early 20th century, writer Max Behr coined the phrase “line of charm” when discussing golf course design. Simply stated, the “line of charm” is a tantalizing route to the hole that draws you in visually, but is often filled with great peril. There are numerous examples of this in Buffalo-Niagara, but one of the finest is the 12th at Ironwood.
This is a very sharp dogleg right, but does not feel that way given the very large expanse of the playing corridor. Without a strong wall of trees lining the inside of the dogleg, you simply do not perceive the amount of bend within the hole. The inviting green tempts you to take the direct route from your elevated tee.
But as many will testify, the siren call often leads to disaster. A slight push or fade will be kicked into the native grass areas which line the right side of the hole. The beauty of the green below simply blinded you to the lost ball danger and away from the conservative route following the dogleg.
I truly love Ironwood, because of its simplicity of design and graceful aesthetics. The next time you play this hole, to a minute to look back upon this hole from the green. I am always surprised by the amount of elevation change, severity of the dogleg, and the simple pleasure of a horizon tee, where players seem to be teeing off from the top of the world.
County Club of Buffalo ~ 187 yard Par 3
While this hole may not receive the same attention as its neighboring quarry holes (6th / 11th), it certainly should not be forgotten. According to Golf Digest’s Ron Whitten, this is the real “volcano hole” at CCB.
Similar to the 6th, the tees for this hole are perched atop the rim of the quarry, but then traverse a pit lake, to a green on the far side. The hole features a sharp falloff on the front right, with bunlers shortleft and to the right side. However, playing safely from those hazards will come with a price. With the slope of the green from back left to front right, many “safe” plays face a treacherous downhiller, where a two-putt is anything but “standard.”
Glen Oak ~ 172 yard Par 3
Normally, I’m not a big fan of water on a golf course. But there are times when such a ‘do-or-die” hazard is appropriate, especially when ample room is provided for a safe play. But what I like most about this hole is that it is not a par 3 which demands nothing but pure length.
The challenge of this Robert Trent Jones creation lies in the angles created by the hazard and green. From the tee, you simply do not appreciate how much further away the left side of the green is. However, the overhead view of the hole helps you understand why your crisp iron to the left pin just splashed to a watery grave.