The poster child for the phrase “Appearances can be deceiving,” Grover Cleveland has the most unexpected history of any area public track. It lived the first 40 years or so of its life as the Country Club of Buffalo and, in 1912, hosted most of the world’s finest golfers at the United States Open Championship. The course was tweaked by Walter Travis for that event, then later by Donald Ross, before being sold to the city of Buffalo. It then hosted the 1926 USGA Public Links championship, making it the only course to host both events. When the Veteran’s Administration hospital was built in the mid-20th century, many holes that extended to Winspear Avenue were lost forever.
Easy starting hole. Flat, wide fairway. Out of bounds over fence to left, 18th fairway to right. Minor bunkering to left in drive zone. Green has bunkers front left and right.
Long, slightly downhill hole. Trees define fairway, but plenty of room to left and right. Some bunkering off center line. Green located in corner of course, with mounding left, right, and behind.
Slightly elevated green without bunkers. Green itself is bisected by a ridge running front to back. Out of bounds over fence on left.
Lengthy hole similar to # 2. Cross bunker on left in drive zone forces drive out to right, also creating a dogleg. Flat green sits at level of fairway, with a slight bit of bunkering.
Out of bounds to left over fence, stand of trees to right. Both hazards shrink drive zone. Wide mound runs in front of green, which can be driven if conditions are right. Green is large and flat.
Full one-shot hole. Trees from # 5 now sit to right, although hole opens up beyond them. Green has two levels, front and back, yet lacks protection.
2nd consecutive short hole runs south toward hospital. No hazards, yet green sits at 20 degree angle, sloping toward tee, creating havoc on side- and down-hill putts.
Par five slides slightly uphill to the north. A good drive brings the green within range in two. Green protected somewhat by few trees remaining on course. Non-discreet bunkering behind flat green.
Downhill drive must avoid stand of trees to right. Green sits at similar angle to that of # 7, yet is bigger and, consequently, has more roll.
A hole for the daring. Drivable, with cross bunkers some thirty yards before the green a threat to a mis-hit. The green itself is an elephant’s burial ground, with an enormous mound in the middle repelling chips and putts. In spite of the length, par is a good score.
Similar to number ten, yet a bit longer and slightly uphill. This is the second of five “drive-and-wedge” par four holes on Grover’s back nine, which makes for low scores. A bit of bunkering around the green gives one pause, though.
A heroic hole, running uphill from the tee, downhill to a vale, then uphill again to the green. If Grover were to improve one hole to create a “signature” hole, this would be the one. In fact, when the rains fall, a temporary water hazard comes into being on the left side of the valley. The green is nicely protected by bunkers, but is too flat to cause any real putting problems.
A nice par three hole, this one is played slightly downhill to a green ringed by moderated mounding and bunkers. The green is not a tough one, but is large.
A short par four with a green that is the cousin to number ten. No trouble until you reach the putting surface, then you play hockey on a green dome. Take your two putts and head for fifteen.
Another short par four with absolutely no protection for its green. If you’re going to gamble on one hole on the back side, let it be this one. Unless you’re behind the green, you have a decent shot at getting up and down for birdie. The green itself flows from back to front with a moderate angle of elevation.
This hole was changed from a par three to a par four in the mid-nineties. It’s still a tough three, easy four. There’s something about making it a par four, though, that makes three seem a bit easier. Fairly thick rough on the left makes stopping a recovery shot difficult, so miss to the left and short on this hole.
One terrific Redan-style par three. From an elevated tee, through a slight valley of rough and sand, to an elevated, three-tiered green set at an angle to a tee, this hole easily qualifies as one of the top ten best-designed par three holes in WNY. Keep the ball below the hole !
The home hole offers yet another chance for birdie, but only attempt to drive the green if you are Tiger-esque. The mounding around, bunker short, and elevation of the green impede a run-up drive to the green. Once there, it’s large, so keep your ball as close to the hole as possible on the approach.