The topography takes over isn’t the title of an adventure movie; it’s the story of the back nine at Niagara Falls country club. After rumbling along for four holes near the front side, the course turns sharply to the west and bounds down, up and down some more before concluding on higher albeit flatter ground near the clubhouse. The second half of the routing avails itself of the property’s broken ground, where a great deal of excitement awaits. Two par fives in the first four holes, along with a wee pitch of a par three, guarantee potential for birdies and eagles. The march from 14 to 18 is one of attrition, where bogies lie in wait and birdies seem to count double their weight. peeweepc1 Hole #10 When golfers of Porter Cup quality anticipate hitting wedge into the first four holes of the back nine, fireworks of a golfing variety ensue. The tenth plays south, away from the clubhouse, in a straight line. The solitary fairway bunker up the left figures little into the playing of the hole. The fairway is pinched in the drive zone by trees and rough, but not so much that driver is not an option off the tee. The key to the hole is the second shot; with as deep a green as found on ten, proper distance on the approach guarantees an authentic birdie putt. Nothing like the deflating experience of leaving a wedge long or short to derail a birdie opportunity. Hole #11 Running parallel to the third hole in placement and effect, eleven is known for giving up birdies and eagles with grace. The Tillinghast great hazard bunker is an afterthought as the tournament’s long hitters send salvo after salvo of drivers past the sand, onto the downslope, bounding toward the green. Many golfers are left with long iron in to the par five green. The putting surface on eleven is more sizeable than its neighboring third, so more daring plays are found. Only two bunkers fronting the green impede each golfer’s approach. Hole #12 The “wee pitch” mentioned before must carry and avoid a serpentine creek that flows before and to the left side of the twelfth green. Long a victim of poor sunlight and limited air flow, the 12th (and the neighboring 4th) have benefited in recent years from tree removal. the 12th was also expanded and the results are positive. More and diverse hole locations ensure a variety of shot options into the green. Both birdie putts and recovery shots make the 12th green a terrific viewing location. Hole #13 The last par five on the course presents one of the most challenging drives on the course. Thirteen measures 576 yards from the tips, the longest hole on the course. From the farthest tee, a carry of 260 yards is required to carry the crossing creek. Those who lay up, abandon all hope of reaching the green in two. Those who carry the creek are faced with a decision. A copse of trees, like a bay window, bumps out from the left side of the fairway, narrowing the hole some 175 yards from the green. A solitary sand bunker rests on the left side of the hole, fifty yards before the green. The typical route, lay-up or not, is two shots to within 100 yards, then wedge to an angled and sloped putting surface. Eagles are rare here, but you might see a leader fall from the top with a bogey or double. peeweepc2 Hole #14 The most strategic drive on the course is the only blind one at Niagara Falls. The dogleg 14th measures a bit more than 400 yards, but features a hard move left, in combination with a hidden landing area. Drives that leak right find rough and trees; drives that move left are also blocked out by tall timbers. The approach shot is the most unique on the golf course. A second shelf, about thirty yards short of the green, features two bunkers that obscure a view of the putting surface. Two rearward sand pits protect the long approach, but a hazard lurks just past the green. For those who appreciate strategic play, fourteen is the place for viewing. Hole #15 The last of the birdie holes, fifteen is the great, risk-reward play on the inward side. If the tee is on the right deck, players usually take driver and aim at the green or its three, front bunkers. If the tee is rear and left, only the foolhardy make that decision. The proper play is iron or hybrid to the lower tier of the fairway, then short iron or wedge to the green. The putting surface is greatly tilted from back to front, necessitating approach putts from below the hole. Hole #16 The first of two strong par threes in the final trio of holes, this one measures 215 yards and is framed by two parentheses of bunkers. The front of the green is open and a shot played short is not an awful thing. As with the 15th, sixteen has a treacherous putting surface whose fame for jilting lovers is legendary. Three- and four-putt greens are not uncommon on this hole, as the frontward tilt is compounded by severe, internal contouring. Three from the tee would be taken by nearly the entire field. Hole #17 At 460 yards, the 17th is the second-longest, two-shot hole on the course. Its uphill approach might make it the longest. Driver needs to be the play from the tee, to get within short- or mid-iron of the green. It’s not the safe play, as oob lurks on both sides of the fairway. The drive-zone fairway bunker is out of play for the Porter Cup contestants, but it does frame the left side nicely. After a proper drive, it’s gut-check time on the approach. The bunkering begins twenty-five yards short of the green and continues through the putting surface. The green features many undulations, so the work is not complete until you reach the hole. Hole #18 A championship that concludes on a par three is the equivalent of penalty kicks in soccer. Some love the one-off notion while others dislike it. There have been as many glory stories (chip-ins, one-putts) as horror stories (balls on route 104, three-putts from three feet), so it all balances out in the end. Four hefty bunkers serve as magnets to poorly-struck shots. The green itself is no picnic to putt, as it slopes severely from back to front. All in all, a great finish to the Niagara Falls country club course. peeweepc3