The City of Buffalo may be the most overlooked and underrated golf metropolitan areas in America. Despite the lack of a regular tour stop or a major championship venue, Buffalo is blessed with several golden age classics and a modern beauty in Crag Burn Golf Club. Foremost among the City’s classic tracks are the Country Club of Buffalo, Park Country Club and Brookfield Country Club and we were fortunate enough to play two of these three terrific courses. As an added bonus, Buffalo boasts several wonderful music venues and in the course of two nights both Joe Bonamassa and Steve Kimock played at separate intimate halls.
Brookfield Country Club captures one’s attention immediately upon pulling a scorecard out of the Starter’s hut as it features one of the coolest photos of any card by featuring a scene from the early days of the Club. The attention grabbing continues on number one with a ripping par four to a subtly diabolical green. The front nine has a nice variety of pars with all sorts of strategic considerations for the attacker. The incoming half ratchets up the golfer’s interest as demonstrated by the short par 4 eleventh where each shot must be well thought out or disaster looms. The eleventh green is a wildly bold tilter which can require the playing of eight feet of break or more. The closing hole is a demanding uphill par 4 that fits into the natural terrain and is quite pleasing despite its difficulty. Brookfield is a great course and Club and provided us with a great introduction to Buffalo golf.
The afternoon round featured an entirely different course and Club. At Crag Burn, the Club is distinctly golf. The course design is of a modern ilk and the terrain is remarkably flat, yet intriguing by virtue of a woodland sequence, a wetlands loop and a series of twisting doglegs. The beauty of Crag Burn is first revealed by the lovely clubhouse comprised of virtually untouched stables from the property’s prior life as an equestrian/polo center.
On the front nine, its par-4, par-5, short par-4, medium par-4 and long par-3 to crank up the round. Again, the short par-4 third is a marvelous example of strategy over distance and deceit over lock and load. The outward nine winds around a copse of trees and a lowland lake and both are used quite creatively with the par-3 fifth, gentle dog leg sixth; brutally difficult par-3 seventh and meandering par-5 eighth.
The back nine contains some great holes, but the par-5 fourteenth followed by the par-4 fifteenth and par-5 sixteenth may be the best combination on the course. The home hole is a super closer and exemplifies the high standards of shotmaking required at Crag Burn.
Closing out our two day tour was Park Country Club, a quintessential golden age wonder that captivates from the moment one turns in the Club as a magnificent Clifford Wendehack clubhouse greets the visitor. The fun continues on the Colt and Allison designed track laid out over a great piece of property. Streams, ponds, sloping fairways and dramatic views across the course set this course apart in the realm of courses old or new. The golden age legacy has been polished up by the fine work of Ian Andrew, a Toronto based golf architect at the top of his field. From the thirteenth hole in, the Park Club tests every facet of the game, but mostly provides a sense that this is a timeless creation from Colt & Allison. On the eighteenth hole, the approach to the green over the cascading stream framed by the stunning Clubhouse is one of the finest in the game.
Buffalo has much to offer to the visiting golfer, and we are very anxious to return and play Country Club of Buffalo and a few of the nearby courses in Southeastern Ontario. Also, we intend to revisit Shea’s Theatre and take in another show. The Joe Bonamassa concert was awesome as Joe is a premier guitarist with a crack band.