Bill Burk & Walt Pickut
Let’s play golf! We’ll take the convertible, if it’s okay with you, what with summer here and all. Waited a long time, didn’t we…for golf season? Me and you in the front, clubs stacked in the back, top down; let the summer wind come creepin’ in, toss our hair a bit, and let’s play some golf. I think we earned it, don’t you?
More than 20 great golf courses are dotted throughout the region, on both sides of the NY/PA state line. They cater to the entire range of skill levels in yardage, scenery and preferences for golfing basics, luxuries and bargains. Local golfers say a good round is the best way to spend an afternoon in the sunshine, take a long walk with friends and enjoy a little friendly competition, sometimes for less than the cost of a couple of movie tickets or a fine meal.
Chautauqua County has more than 20 places to golf. In 2002, Golf Digest named us the “Best Little Golf Town in America.” That’s especially true, considering the added benefit of practice at local driving ranges and even miniature golf to introduce the family fun of golf to the littlest ones.
Chautauqua County offers 9-hole courses and 18-hole courses alike. Some are old and historic with a pedigree boasting past players who walked the fairways like Ben Hogan, Walter Hagen, Sam Snead and President Bill Clinton, with plush “19th Holes” and gourmet, countryside clubhouses. Some are private, semi-private or public. Many are styled for community play and even have pizza so good, according to one local golfer, it would sell on the streets of Manhattan.
Though it’s not a strict rule, the main difference between a country club and a golf club is usually that country clubs require membership to play. A golf club is usually open to the public, charging only a greens fee. For the complete experience, though, especially for players who drive too close to the water or the deep rough, look for a pro-shop, too. They can replace lost balls and bent clubs.
More than one local course was designed by great golfers of the past. They tempt players with their variety and the pleasures and challenges of trying out different courses, even for golfers who already have a home course membership somewhere else.
The variety in terrain and design on Western New York golf courses goes beyond fairway and green layout. On the “windy side” of Chautauqua Lake, for instance – a distinction well known to Chautauqua boaters – golfers might be challenged for better ball flight control. A wedge shot into that wind, one local instructor has said, might land it right back at a golfer’s feet. Lakeside courses and countryside courses around the county also test players with very different slopes and grass conditions.
With new bridges, sand traps, fairways, well kept ponds and brooks, paved or cobbled paths and creative pin placements, Chautauqua County golf courses work hard to provide a good place to set a tee into the ground. Seasoned local golfers also appreciate that tee boxes, fairways and greens are planted and carefully maintained with special grasses best suited to Western New York’s cold winters and cool summers.
Chautauqua County also offers golfers a breathtaking array of scenery, from magical views of the Chautauqua Lake basin to gently rolling, green hills inland and forest bordered landscapes.
New golfers looking for a course to call home can select one with a resident golf pro or instructor on who can help sharpen a swing, perfect a putt or any other part of their game to improve from tee to green.
For a comprehensive list of golf courses in Chautauqua County, visit http://www.golflink.com/ and enter “Chautauqua, New York” in the search box. Award-winning golf courses are also highlighted. More information, reviews and tournaments for the courses are also listed there.