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 1 to 5, in reverse order.
- Previous: Public Courses 11 to 15
- Previous: Private Courses 11 to 15
- Previous: Private Courses 6 to 10
- Previous: Public Courses 6 to 10
Five: Glen Oak golf course
Of the top five public courses, Glen Oak is the oldest, dating to the early 1970s. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, sr., it features many of his favorite features: runway tees, double-dogleg par fives, and one specific way of playing each hole. The course features some of the area’s more memorable holes, like the cape par 4 7th hole, the water-crossing 8th and 12th par 3s, and the controversial 18th. Glen Oak can play as long or as short as you like, depending on where you peg it. Glen Oak received 673 points in the ballot. Its highest rank was a first-place vote.
Four: Peek’n Peak Upper Course
Many have asked why this resort continues to refer to its “Upper” course, since the “Lower” no longer exists. Answer: it just does. The Peek is the only course on either list to have been consistently tested by the world’s touring professionals. Built on challenging land by an innovative architect, the Upper Course features a surprising amount of flattish hole (not a knock!) given its mountainous setting. Each hole presents a balanced demand for accuracy and distance, not an easy goal to reach. Peek’n Peak Upper Course received 684 points in the ballot. Its highest rank was a first-place vote.
Three: The Links at Ivy Ridge
The Links at Ivy Ridge was the first new course to debut at 18 holes, in the dawn of the new millennium. The course featured the type of layout normally found on a private club, thanks to the shaping talents of Blaine Harrison. Ivy Ridge avails itself of massive acreage, as its par five holes work their way past either a dry wash or a sizeable pond. The par fours demand creative planning, as some run in a gentle bend, while others make a hard turn left or right. The concluding holes on each nine are mirror images, wrapping around yet another pond that fronts the clubhouse and putting green. The Links at Ivy Ridge received 707 points in the ballot. Its highest rank was a first-place vote. (Editor’s Note: The Links at Ivy Ridge is a sponsor of BuffaloGolfer.Com)
Two: Harvest Hill golf course
Harvest Hill is held in such regard, that rumor has it that the Orchard Park country club, at one point, considered selling its town course and purchasing the Old Transit Road property. Every element of the course is oversized, from the practice facility to the presentation of the course itself. The collection of five par five holes is the best in western New York, public and private courses considered. The par-four holes are nearly their equal, and only the banality of the par three holes keeps HH out of the top spot. Harvest Hill received 790 points in the ballot. Its highest rank was a first-place vote.
One: Seneca Hickory Stick
The top-ranked public course in Buffalo-Niagara is the Seneca Hickory Stick golf course, located below the escarpment in Lewiston. Designed by Robert Trent Jones II, SHS demonstrates balanced excellence like no other course in the region. The course is playable for golfers of all levels, as long as the proper tees are selected. From reachable par four and five holes, to daunting par threes, Seneca Hickory Stick is a worthy occupant of the top spot in western New York public golf. Seneca Hickory Stick received 857 points in the ballot. Its highest rank was a first-place vote. (Editor’s Note: Seneca Hickory Stick is a sponsor of BuffaloGolfer.Com)