In the age of mapping, it doesn’t really matter whether you input that the Peninsula Lakes golf club is in Fenwick, or Pelham, or Fonthill, Ontario. They are all within a decent par-four hole of each other, so if you find one of them, you’ll find Pen Lakes.
Storied golf courses have been carved from the remains of quarries. Think Merion and Country Club of Buffalo on the private side, or Streamsong in Florida on the public side. Pen Lakes was born from a sand and gravel quarry and opened its first 18 holes in 1971. The Quarry and Hillside nines were later joined by their younger sibling across the road, the Orchard nine. Rene Muylaert was the architect behind the three nines, and the result of his efforts is 27 holes that will keep you involved and thoughtful throughout.
Pen Lakes reminds me at times of Terry Hills, in Batavia, New York. Both properties have 27 holes of rotating nines, and both properties have incredibly keen and supportive ownership who think first of their customers. Pen Lakes differs in that its land moves more than the flatlands along New York’s I-90 interstate. The vertical changes at Peninsula Lakes are notable and effective, but never jarring. If you’re looking for proof, ask about the hidden tee on the Orchard nine’s second hole.
The purpose of our review is not to reveal all the nuances of a tasty property that sits along the Niagara escarpment. Instead, it is to remind western New York golfers of the public opportunities that await in a not-too-distant land. The Scrambler, Hox, and I are here in Niagara for five days. We have an airbnb in Niagara On The Lake, for the chance to remind ourselves what travel to Ontario was like before 2002, before 2019. It’s not an every-day or even an every-week thing, but it is a special opportunity that Buffalonians and others in Niagara, Erie, and Chautauqua counties (et al) can return to their radar screens. We’ll leave you with an enjoyable photo slide show, to give you a taste of Peninsula Lakes.