Today I play amateur architect and intern course set-up guy. I’m going to run through the Niagara Falls Country Club golf course, hole by hole, making architectural changes and suggesting tee locations. Feel free and encouraged to debate my selections and offer up your own. I’ll see you at NFCC this week.
Hole #1: I’m pretty set with this hole. It’s a nice, straight par four, exactly what you need to challenge the boys out of the gate. I think that I’d move the tees up on Saturday (final round) to ensure wedge into the green and birdies out of the gate.
Hole #2: They’ve done the work to restore this formerly-weak and uninteresting hole. There is a hidden fairway bunker between the 1st/2nd-shared bunker on the right and the greenside bunker. I bet it grabs a lot of shots. No changes
Hole #3: Again, nothing. It’s one of three risk-reward par fives on the course. None of them is a true three-shot hole and I want excitement. Perhaps some bunker work to make the drive a bit more challenging. Something center-line, to force a right-fairway/left-fairway decision off the tee.
Hole #4: Kudos to the NFCC for pulling down trees to increase wind transition and sunshine to this hole. No longer a glade hole with a suspect green, there’s an openess to #4 that was lacking for all time. I don’t like this green; I think it’s too small and undulating for the length shot that comes in. I suspect that this green will be hit fewer times than fairness allows and that’s not right. Ask Tripp Davis to take a look at this one and consider an expansion, a la #12.
Hole #5: There is a suggested change on the books, a tee shift about ten yards right, that creates a forced dogleg right. Not a huge change and let’s face it, golfers of this caliber should be able to cut a driver.
Hole #6: Another hole that I like a lot. If I were the set-up guy, I’d push the tees up on #6 and #7 the same day (perhaps Friday.) Nothing like back-to-back birdie holes before the 8/9 knockout combo of long par fours.
Hole #7: So much potential…no changes necessary. Play the tees way back, way up and everywhere in between.
Hole #8: The front-nine hole that begs alteration. This one demands a tee ball over a stand of trees, with no great sight lines. The Porter Cup guys were pushing the ball up toward the green until the new, back, low tee was added.
Hole #9: Terrific par four. Similar to what #5 will be with the new tee, without the confined left side. Hole favors a fade but accepts a draw.
Hole #10: I would like to see the tees up on this hole, perhaps on Friday. Has great potential as a driveable par four and comes at a great time in the round, when players pause to turn in halfway scores and caddies head to the refreshment shop. Lack of trouble in fairway encourages “go for it” mentality.
Hole #11: Eleven has similar qualities, but different terrain, to number 3. No movement of tees is needed, although I’ve discussed back tees on both 3 and 11 with the tournament director. Nothing fancy nor large, just something to take them back to 570 for one day a year.
Hole #12: NFCC’s tribute to Golden Bell, the 12th at Augusta National. Set at the opposite angle but with similar playing qualities, the enhanced green makes it an untouchable. Cleared-out trees restored air flow and sunlight to improve grass growth and maintenance.
Hole #13: If they lay up, they bang three-metal at the green; if they carry Fish Creek, they approach with mid-irons. No defense, but the gnarly rough, sand, copse of trees right of green and angular, pitched putting surface turn eagles and birdies into flightless dodos.
Hole #14: Only truly blind tee ball on course. Great approach to a hidden green~wait, that’s two blind shots in a row! Love this hole, from the bunkering to the lowered green to the potential for birdie.
Hole #15: The hole voted most likely to be played as a short par four on the back nine. You won’t reach the green, but you’ll be left with a slight uphill pitch of some 30 yards to a tough putting surface. I’d blow up the cement creek bed that Mr. Moses put down, but that’s impossible to do without funds.
Hole #16: I like this par three more and more, each time I play it. You could play this one at 240 if you had the room. Clear out some trees and get some sunlight into the #16/#17 tee complex and the #15 green.
Hole #17: Leave it alone!
Hole #18: In my dreams, the tee is at the street corner and the hole plays 250 yards. Could still be a par three, but what a one-shotter it would be! You’d see guys laying up, rather than risk the Rafael Alarcon demise of the late 1970s.
And that’s all, folks. Tournament begins tomorrow. Have fun, be proper and cheer on the contestants.