(Image courtesy Niagara Falls Country Club. Stats courtesy Golfstat.com)
From the Niagara Escarpment you can catch a panorama of the town of Lewiston, NY, the Niagara River to the west and in the distance to the north, Lake Ontario. The highlands above Lewiston, 9 miles north of Niagara Falls, is the location of Niagara Falls Country Club.
I’ve had the good fortune to play at this course several times, and it is absolutely a treat. It’s not a punishing course in length; 6,870 from the tips, 6,340 for the members. It is an old-school design; tree-lines, bunkered and laid out to use the winds coming off the Escarpment as an additional defense. A player may think she/he can overpower this course; the correct approach is to out-position the course. It s not a long hitter layout, it is a shot-maker layout.
It has hosted one of the premier men’s amateur events, the Porter Cup, for 59 years. It has recently come of age and for the 5th year is hosting the Women’s Porter Cup. The field is typically loaded with top talent making heir way on the summer amateur circuit.
This year has a solid Buckeye contingent of Zoe-Beth Brake, Jessica Porvasnik and Niki Schroeder. Okay, so how’d things go?
Jessica earned the opportunity to sleep in due to a later (11:30) tee time. Her opening round of 73 (+1) placed her in T-6th of 71 golfers. Aside from an exciting stretch in the middle of her front nine, Jessica made good friends with ‘par’.
After parring her first three holes, she bogeyed the tough 180-yard par 3 4th hole, then went birdie-birdie on holes #5 and #6. Her hole-out from the bunker on #6 was a thing of beauty. That’s a great way to save wear & tear on your putter.
Jessica parred her closing nine holes wrap to wrap up her 73.
Zoe-Beth has to get up a bit earlier for her 10:10 tee time. Her 76 (+4) puts her in T-24th. She opened with 2 bogeys, then played her next three holes in -1. Z-B parred two of her next 4 holes to make the turn at 39.
She had an interesting hole at 150 yard the par-3 7th hole. She pushed her tee shot to the back right of the kidney shaped green. The pin was in front left, approximately 65′ away. Because of the green design and her lie, she could not putt the ball. From the fringe, Zoe-Beth had to cut a wedge just onto the green and let the ball run out toward the pin. She missed the comeback putt for par, but Zoe-Beth had one of the more creative shots I’ve seen in a while.
Niki was also in a tie for 24th with a 76 (+4). She had a “tale of two cities” round, shooting 42-34. Things got off to a rocky start with a triple bogey 7 on the par-4 2nd hole. There was no sugar-coating that hole, it was a mess and painful to watch.
However, going back to my favorite par-3, the 150-yard 7th, things got exciting, in a good way. I stood green-side to take in the ‘festivities’. Her two playing partners short-sided their tee shots into the left rough. I’m thinking, “Please Niki, just play for the center of the green and move on”. Nope, her tee shot was on line with the pin, hit few feet in front of the hole, just missed the cup as it rolled by and ended maybe 4′ past the hole. (What do I know?)
As she walked off the green, I congratulated her on her birdie. I was obvious in my red Tressel vest, so Nike said “Go Bucks!”. We gave each other the OH – IO and all was good.
It was nice to meet up with Coach Therese Hession and have a nice chat. Actually, since nothing was pre-planned, the ‘meet up’ was truthfully a ‘bump into’. It was still a nice chat.
Probably due to my Tressel vest and interest in following the OSU players, on two occasions I was mistaken for either the Ohio State coach or someone on the OSU coaching staff. My deepest apologies to Coach Hession. After the 2nd mistaken identity, I left the course before I’d be mistaken for Thad Matta.
To watch these young ladies play is a treat; to see them on a course where I have some familiarity is a true joy. If you get an opportunity to attend a NCAA or Amateur golf event, I suggest that you do it. The players appreciate your support and you’ll get a better appreciation of golf.
Round 2 of the Women’s Porter Cup. Please check back in for 2nd round recap.