From its opening in 1976 until the tightening of border crossings in 2002, International Country Club of Niagara was one of the easiest drives to make from downtown Buffalo, for top-notch golf and practice. 27 holes ensured plenty of room for all foursomes, while a massive range guaranteed an opportunity to improve and hone your golf.
In 2021, it was announced that ICC would become Niagara National Golf and Country, and temporarily reduce its golf footprint by nine holes. The Blue nine would be temporarily shuttered (but not abandoned) with the Red and White nines open for play. Given all this, can you imagine a golf-crazy teacher, born and raised and living in western New York, who had yet to play this Stevensville, Ontario layout, through 56 years of life? That was me, until last week.
As the final stop on our Return To Niagara wee tour, my mates and I visited Niagara National to have a game around the course. Both fellows had played the course’s 27 holes in their heyday. They anticipated the return to see what they remembered, and what time had faded away from their memory banks. I was stoked to see what the fuss had always been about. None of us left disappointed.
Niagara National is an open 18. The great majority of holes operates in treeless space, hearkening back to the origins of the game. Wind and other elements of nature conspire to force each golfer to consider club and shot selection, prior to the play. Holes move left, right, and straight in great harmony; there is no over-abundance of any one direction. Most important is the available space. Golfers shouldn’t spend a lot of time in the rough, but they will soon find that particular sides of fairways, and angles into greens, provide better chances at scoring than others.
Our one beef? Par-three hole variety. Three of the four shorties played in the same yardage range from each tee. We enjoyed the tucked-away, eighth hole on the front as it demanded less club. We think that the fifth hole on the back nine could knock out the tree behind the green and build a new green beyond, playing in the 230-yard range (but remember, we’re playing with house money!)
There is a redevelopment plan stuck in governmental workings, and if it were to come to pass, might situate Niagara National as a world-class, destination for golf. Read the release on The Golf Wire. It was our pleasure to play an original Fry/Straka course in Michigan: Arcadia Bluffs South Course. Read more about this architectural partnership at Fry/Straka interview on BuffaloGolfer For now, enjoy a fun and strategic 18 at Niagara National.