(This post was originally published in 2009. It is republished today for its interest level.

One of the most rewarding golf stories of the past five years was the opening of Diamond Hawk in Cheektowaga. The course went on the drawing board as a town project in 1991, died a slow death mid-decade, then regained strength through a series of private backers as the new millennium dawned.  Today the course is a challenging piece of architecture that incorporates various styles of architecture and topography, from the firm-and-fast
challenges of links golf to the gentle rolling softness of parkland play.  To succeed at Diamond Hawk, one needs to have the high ball and low punch in one’s arsenal, a deft touch on the immense putting surfaces and a sense of patience to navigate the twisting corridors of fairway.

What is not well known (if at all) is the transformation the course underwent from its initial routing to the  finished product.  Bill Kerman of Hurdzan-Fry golf course architects (Columbus, Ohio) was the point man from day one of the project.  He recently supplied an engineer’s rendering of the initial layout which, when placed next to a current course map, shows exactly how much weaker the original course was.

Click Here to see both course layouts. Original is on top, Current is on bottom.

Bill Kerman gave a little background on the reasons for the change from the original layout to the one in play today:

“The local rumor is true – it was changes to the wetland delineations over time that forced the changes.  The area to the south of the Parwood Subdivision was originally delineated with small pockets of wetlands.  Because the original delineations were done in 1991, they had expired by time the project resurfaced first in 1998 and finally in 2002.  Each time the delineation was done the size of the wetland “grew”.  I say grew in quotes because nothing on the site change – just how wetlands were determined changed.  The result was that original holes 11, 15, and 16 could not be built where they were.  On the original layout the town was going to keep 2 of 4 ball fields at the Rehm Road Park.  After the wetland changes the town said use the rest of the park.  That resulted in a complete rerouting and ultimately a better golf course.”

The layout under the auspices of the town of Cheektowaga had no name; a naming contest was never held as the town was unable to authorize construction of the course.  During the late 1990s, a mystery developer from Toronto got involved and indicated that he would name the course Sandbush.  Fortunately for western New York golf, he disappeared just as quickly as he surfaced.  The Jim Kelly family also expressed interest in the project, planning to team the course with a sports complex.  The withering of the bloom on the rose of the multi-sports complex, best seen locally in the rise and fall of Eagle Crest in Lockport, kept the Kellys from pursuing the dream.  The final chapter came about when Cheektowaga businessmen Sam Tadio and Russ Salvatore teamed together to bring the course to the last stages of completion.  Ultimately it was Mr. Tadio who saw the project through and continues to operate the course today.

The original design topped out at 6500 yards.  Comparing the two plans, the great short par four 2nd and mammoth long par three third would not have existed.  The little dink sixth (the par three…one of the weaker holes on the course) also would not have existed, replaced by the apparently just-as-weak 8th on the original sketch.  The massive changes
to the back nine involved a complete redirection of the core loop.  The 10th through 12th holes would have occupied the space currently housing 16th through 18th.  Land that today contains the practice range and superintendent’s equipment facility would have hosted the end of the inward nine.  Shorter, less spacious, weaker…perhaps the only time in recent memory that a golf course owes its strength to the expansion of the wetlands contained within the perimeter.

Diamond Hawk Today