There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
Some of these places, in the Beatles’ most evocative lyrical effort, we take for granted. Their fit is so neat, their wear is so comfortable, that we fail to hear their quiet brilliance, fail to see their luminescence. Those who play golf competitively are always after a soul-crushing challenge, another Everest to summit. Those students of classic golf courses look for natural elements, minimalist touches, the thorough examination provided by the ground game. Both often leave behind the elementary beauty of a short course, in their searches for the complicating. At the proper time, they rediscover what is fundamental to the game.
In pick-up sports, you need little more than a ball and four bases; or two hoops; or two goal mouths. In golf, you need a place to begin and a place to end, followed by another and another.It’s the structure of the end that matters more, as the beginning is little more than a doorway onto a garden. At Bob-O-Link, an 18-hole, lighted par three course in Orchard Park. you have 18 doors and gardens, and more in the sunken garden of golfing delights.
I stumbled onto this treasure while hosting a golf camp, years ago. The check boxes on my list weren’t simple at all:
____short holes that won’t tire little legs;
All of these boxes were checked at Bob-O-Link. The young golfers engages holes ranging from 85 to 145 yards. They could take an entire bag onto the course, or simply carry a few balls and clubs, leaving their satchel up by the club. The house itself is functional; to the left is the snack area, where everything from pizza logs and hot dogs, to delightful cheeseburgers and tuna melts, may be purchased at an affordable rate. On the right, the golf shop, where equipment and range balls, along with green fees, are sold.
The entirety of the course, with the exception of the 10th tee deck, sits in some manner in the bowl below the club house. 10 tees off from a ledge, over a valley, to a green benched strategically into a hill. This is the way of Bob-O-Link: the greens are sighted in unexpected places, asking for bounding shots, runners and spinners. If your wedge game needs work, Bob-O-Link will assess its flaws.
The main feature of the course is the massive pond framed by the 9th and 18th holes. Each plays across a sliver of pond, and it’s fun to sit atop the hill and guess as to the fate of tee balls from each deck. A tall net protects the club from those golfers who take far too much club, in an effort to stay dry, and catch the ball on clubface center. Shots that clear the netting, also clear the clubhouse and bound across Old Transit Road, into the great beyond.
When you reach the third hole, you see the farmed fields to the north. When you turn to the fifth hole, also along the boundary, you see the horse yards where the majestic creatures graze. Civilized golf combines with the bucolic atmosphere of the pleasingly rural. It is inimitable, refreshing and cleansing.
That Bob-O-Link is equipped for night golf, is appropriate. We have yet to experience it, and have no good reason to explain away this oversight. It’s rare that golf can be played after dark, although efforts have been made (South Shore) locally to offer the option. We suspect that it’s fun, part hide-and-seek and part frolic.
At the southern extreme of the parking lot, a self-serve chipping/pitching/sand practice area develops the short game. The northern end hosts the practice range and putting green. If there’s a better-equipped space to introduce new golfers to the game, or to remind old golfers of their place in it, please let us know. In the interim, visit Bob-O-Link soon.