Concord Crest is one of the new millennium courses in Buffalo-Niagara. It opened nine holes initially, then followed that successful debut with a second nine a year later. The course takes advantage of a wonderful piece of rolling countryside in the Boston hills, south of Buffalo.Holes 1-3: 439, 487 & 125
The first has played into the wind each time I’ve been to the course. Be prepared to have a long second shot into a green that slopes back right to front left. It´s a challenging starting hole that rewards a strong second shot. Number two is my favorite hole on the course. Players competing with one another could make an early move at this downward Par-5. Hit it straight and you’ll have a manageable 2nd shot. The tee ball must be short enough to avoid the downhill slope of the fairway, yet must not stray right or left, into tree trouble. The second is played toward the green, some 50-75 feet below the upper fairway plateau. It’s a shame that this hole comes so early in the round, as it deserves a build-up. The third is a short and challenging par 3. At only 125 yards in length most people will hit wedges or
a 9-iron into it. The elevation of the green adds half a club to the distance; the old-school touch of a fronting rock wall makes it a very unique visual; the shallow green demands distance precision. Balls that land near the center of the green will run off into thick rough and/or sand. You need to prove you´re an accurate wedge player here
Holes 4-6: 289, 263 & 367
Another short hole that requires strategy. Shaped like an L, players can smack a five-iron straight out and leave themselves 80-100 yards in. Or, they can hit driver over the trees
to the left. In two tries over the trees I cleared it both times (and I´m not a very long hitter). Be warned, though, that the penalty for missing left (trees) or long right (water) is heavy. It’s truly a risk-risk shot, with little to no reward. On the fifth hole, you stand at the tee and you think – I can hit the ball 283 yards or at least close. The problem is water protects the hole down the left and also in front of the green. Many perfect drives find the hazard. You´re better to lay back and leave yourself 75-yard wedge into a long green. The sixth is another hole where one can make the safe play into the fairway or try to attack down the left over some trees. The 359-yard hole isn´t long but it features a small green with sand to the right. The lack of definition lures the player into a false sense of security, where his best swing may not be the result.
Holes 7-9: 162, 482 & 323
If you´re going to miss on this hole – miss left. There is water down the right and behind the green. At 162 yards, the hole just requires a strong mid or short-iron and you´ll have a birdie putt. As we said, though, if you´re going to miss —- miss left. The eighth is the
second par 5 on the front and is a beautiful and challenging hole. Players must hit a tee shot over water and weeds into a wide fairway. From there, the hole goes steeply uphill, turning the yardage into a three-shot par five. Hit a good wedge on your third and the green will be receptive. The home hole on the outward nine is a straightforward hole with the pro shop serving as background. The tee ball crests a hill and rumbles on down toward the putting surface. With no fairway hazards, players can attack this short par 4 with a good drive. Nine is a hole for low numbers, assuaging egos as the turn is made.
Holes 10-12: 490, 208 & 364
Maybe it´s just time for me to admit that I love every Par 5 on the course. Number ten plays almost 500 yards and appears straight as an arrow. The fairway slopes this way and that, however, and features numerous bumps that can knock a ball into the rough. Two good shots might get you an eagle try. For a hole so close to the main road, it reveals the portions of broken ground that make Concord Crest a true foothills course. Be careful to avoid left the entire way and long at the green. High and right will always keep you safe.
Concerning number eleven: On a course full of character and fun shots, this hole adds a bit more. It plays 200+ from the blue tees, seems straight with nothing really to protect the green. It is a raw hole with multiple possibilities. One is to fly the ball all the way to the green, while the second is to play the ball low and short on a firm, fast day and let it amble its way toward the putting surface. There are other options, but I’ve not played the course enough to figure them out. The twelfth is the first of a great four-hole stretch on the
course. At 360 yards, this one runs all down hill but features a creek in front of the green that collects really well-struck drives. Hit a high-fade that finds the fairway and plan for another wedge into the green over the water. At dawn or dusk, the reflections off the water awaken the senses.
Holes 13-15: 378, 200 & 522
A bit longer than the 12th, 13 plays completely different. Returning parallel to its
predecessor, up the hill with a pond on the right thirteen plays three clubs longer, with little to no roll off the drive. The approach, like number 8 nearby, is straight up the hill. There is an odd little pond benched into the hill on the fairway right, so avoid that spot. This green undulates more than most and can be a tough two-putt. Number 14 is a penal hole, the only one on the course. It´s a 180-yard Par 3 with water blocking the front entrance to the green. Carry the pond and the ball reaches the green. Be sure to keep it high enough to ensure a soft landing. The green is wide, allowing for a bit of error right or left, albeit none in terms of distance. The final par five on the course makes the designers of Concord Crest four for four on long holes. In my estimation, the par 5s define the golf course. Playing heroically downward and right at 500 yards in length, there is out of bounds down the right and water to the left. A small creek cuts through the fairway 2/3 of the way down. As on many holes at St. Andrews, avoid the line of charm to the right (the shortcut in our lingo) where little salvation is found. Left is always safe and never wrong, from tee to green.
Holes 16-18: 168, 408 & 347
The closing stretch begins with the second-shortest par 3 on the course. It´s fairly short with no trouble immediately adjacent to the green. A heavy tug will bring the irrigation pond into play, so be mindful. The green is set at a front-left-to-back-right angle. Judge the distance, wind and club – and you´ll give yourself a chance at birdie. Number
seventeen never seems to play its full 408 yards. Each time I’ve played it I’ve had around 130 in, (and I really don´t drive the ball 270). The penultimate drive may be hit with the fury of an ocean storm, as it offers the last wide-open fairway on the course. The second shot is uphill to a small green with zero bunkers. If you’ve waited to attack a hole location, wait no longer. The home hole protects itself with water along the right margin and scrub brush and out of bounds down the left. The tee ball is a diagonal affair, so those with a penchant for geometry will have no trouble finding the proper line. For the rest of us, it’s a struggle. The hole is not long, so a careful drive leaves a short iron or wedge approach, allowing for a fine chance to finish the round with four or better.