I was struggling a little bit more this week to conjure up some righteous indignation about holes that were omitted from the Best of Buffalo-Niagara Poll. Perhaps I used up all my indignation watching Tiger on Sunday.
However, several weeks ago, I completed a mental walkthrough of all the courses in BN and listed all holes that jumped out at me as “Best of” candidates. Once the Nominating Committee makes its selections, I compare to my spreadsheet and start my article. Coincidentally, every course I initially identified was nominated this week. But upon a second review, I feel the following holes deserve some attention:
Turkey Run ~ 510 yard Par 5
My Golf love affair began on a hill in Arcade almost 25 years ago. Turkey Run influenced many of the characteristics of my Golf game, including my overwhelming desire to try every heroic shot. Turkey Run features a number of drivable par 4s and a reachable par 5, all of which were too tempting to resist, at the risk of potential blow-ups.
One of these is the 510 yard 6th, a reachable par 5 that features a 90 degree dogleg after the drive zone. But, with out-of-bounds left and high grass right, penalty strokes can accumulate in a hurry if you don’t utilize a conservative 3-shot strategy from the tee. However, if you do conjure a decent drive, you are presented with a tempting risk/reward opportunity to play an uphill, blind shot over the dogleg to a small green. Complicating matters is the small pond just right of the green. I prided myself on the ability to place the green mentally from the drive zone, and always enjoyed the sense of anticipation as I crested the hill to see if I’d left myself an eagle opportunity.
A truly well designed hole, scores may range from double eagle (Congratulations, Dan Owens!) to well into double digits.
Ironwood ~ 333 yard Par 4
The beauty of this Scott Witter hole is its simplicity. At first glance, it appears far too easy, with an enormously wide driving corridor you would expect on a meaty 450+ yard, not a potentially drivable short hole.
But with a single greenside bunker and perfectly contoured green, Witter adds strategic implications often overlooked. While the drive zone appears 100 yards wide, the left 85 yards will leave a difficult short approach over the bunker to a green sloping away from you. To leave the optimum angle of attack or open up additional approach options, you must flirt with trees and OB on the right of the hole.
Lancaster Country Club ~ 434 yard Par 4
It’s rare that you think of 434 yards as a “breather,” but after navigating the 474 yard 5th hole, the 40 yards is welcome relief. The 6th at Lancaster, when combined with its predecessor, anchors what is arguably the toughest back-to-back duo in the Buffalo-Niagara region.
But just because it’s not as tough as the opening act, the 6th has plenty of teeth on its own. Penalty stroke trouble lurks down the left, and the right features some smaller trees that, while not leading to penalty strokes, will mandate some great recovery skills.
Crag Burn ~ 395 yard Par 4
Now, I don’t want to bear the Twitter Wrath of Chris Covelli (@Covells) & Jake Katz (@JakeYKatz) once again, but I haven’t played Crag Burn, so I can’t discuss it intelligently. However, I do recognize that others appreciate the 6th, so I am providing a link to a photo tour of the course on GolfClubAtlas.com, complete with some hole-by-hole analysis and discussion.
Read Scrambler’s thoughts on past nomination oversights (2nd / 3rd / 4th / 5th).
Actually, the 5-7 stretch at Crag Burn is probably the least memorable on the course. From then on, the only vanilla holes are 10 and 12 (both long and straight par fours, albeit with really good greens!) This is probably the thing that differentiates CB from other RTJ Senior courses; you cannot believe that he and his team built the greens!