For the first time in recorded history, the ranking of golf courses across western New York has been crowd-sourced. The process began two weeks ago, with stage one of the mechanism. After public and private divisions were reduced to 15 courses each, a ballot was produced and golf aficionados ranked from first to 15th, the finalists in each bracket. Two courses that received attention, but did not ascend to the final segment, were Niagara Frontier (Youngstown) and Brierwood (Hamburg.) Over the course of the next four days, we shall reveal the results of that ranking means. Today it is our pleasure to present the public course ranking, places 6 to 10, in reverse order.
- Previous: Public Courses 11 to 15
- Previous: Private Courses 11 to 15
- Previous: Private Courses 6 to 10
Our only tie involves Arrowhead and Tri-County, and they could not be more dissimilar. Arrowhead was crafted by Scott Witter, over flat farmland in Akron. It is an exemplar of minimalist design, with a touch of flair in remote spaces. Witter incorporated every imaginable type of hole, from short three to long five, and moved them through fields of native grasses, along (rarely over) ponds and creeks, and let the golf course and its remarkable putting surfaces tell the story. The knock this year on Arrowhead is conditioning. Here’s hoping that the owners get it right this year. Arrowhead received 464 votes in the ballot. Its highest rank was a third-place vote.
Our only tie involves Arrowhead and Tri-County, and they could not be more dissimilar. Tri-County was laid out by locals, perhaps with an assist from A.W. Tillinghast (more on that in the coming months) over tumultuous terrain in Forestville. The course plays out in a series of acts. The first is the cross-ridge dance. Out, back, and down, then around. The first four holes at T3C are one of the most breathtaking open plays in the area. Then comes the vertical mamba: up, down, up, down, then over, the same hills that featured in act one. The final act, extended to all nine holes on the back, plays across tame ground, but the putting surfaces make up for it. Tri-County received 464 votes in the ballot. Its highest rank was a first-place vote.
Eight: Holiday Valley
Holiday Valley removed some, but not all, of the quirk from its 2010 refurbishment. The 10th hole was reworked into an attractive par three, the 11th became less of an oddity, with the expansion of the fairway right and the removal of trees in the left glen. Most important was the addition of the spectacular 13th hole, a wicked journey down to a divided fairway, followed by a short pitch to a horizon green. Finally, the awkward 17th was replaced by an interesting par five, which plays waaaayyyy longer than the card suggests. HV’s greens have always been lightning quick and baby-skin smooth. The new holes make it a legitimate top-eight in western New York. Holiday Valley received 480 votes in the ballot. Its highest rank was a first-place vote. (Editor’s Note: Holiday Valley is a sponsor of BuffaloGolfer.Com)
Part of the upper echelon of the country circuit, Byrncliff earns a spot in the top seven, by virtue of its diversity. Located in the wavy country of the lower Allegheny hills, Russ Tryon routed a tremendous trace across, up, down and over a number of ridges and slopes. It comes as no surprise that Byncliff is a cross-country ski mecca in the snowy months, as the terrain is varied and interesting. The par five holes at the ‘Cliff might be its most memorable, but a backbone of strong par four holes supports them well. The only element keeping the course from the top five might be the mundane nature of the back-nine par three holes. Byrncliff received 546 votes in the ballot. Its highest rank was a first-place vote. (Editor’s Note: Byrncliff is a sponsor of BuffaloGolfer.Com)
Six: Diamond Hawk
Diamond Hawk easily captures the title of WNY’s miracle course. Situated amid an international airport, an industrial park, recreation fields, and diverse residential housing, the former dumping ground and railway crossing offers as much of a challenge as any course in Greater Buffalove. The course moves sideways and straight, and always offers heroic and safe play on every hole, on every shot. Not a single boring hole exists across the course, but the nuance of some holes is revealed only after multiple plays. If the wind is up, get your knockdown shot polished and keep it low. Diamond Hawk received 579 votes in the ballot. Its highest rank was a first-place vote.