(Image courtesy Niagara Falls Country Club. Stats courtesy Golfstat.com)

From the Niagara Escarpment you can catch a view 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.

Recap

Zoe-Beth has appeared in all six Women’s Porter Cup events.  Last year she finished in.  T-17th with a score of 220 (+4). This year, she finished 1st with a score of 71-70-67-208 (-8).
For much of Friday’s final round, ZB² was locked in a tie (-5) with fellow competitor Lei Ye. Zoe-Beth, in effect, took control of the match on the 450 yard par-5, 13th hole. ZB²’s fellow competitors, Lei Ye and Filipino Mikhaela Fortuna hit their tee shots into the left rough. Zoe-Beth’s tee shot was in the middle of the fairway. All three were short of the green in two. Lei and Mikhaela hit very good wedges, but they both ended above the pin. Zoe-Beth nipped a nice pitch & run that stopped within two feet of the hole. Lei and Mikhaela missed their putts for birdie – Zoe-Beth didn’t and went to the 14th tee with a one stroke lead.
Zoe-Beth birdied the par-4 14th hole (for the 3rd time in the tournament) to open a two stroke lead and punctuated the win with a birdie on the par-3 18th hole.
Here is Zoe-Beth’s scorecard for the three rounds:
Screenshot (14)

You’ll notice a couple things with the scorecards:

  • Zoe-Beth had only one double bogey on her card. In 54 holes. On an unforgiving course. In, for the most part, windy conditions.
  • Zoe-Beth bogeyed her opening two holes on Thursday.  She played the next 34 holes in -9 to par. That is amazing.

Background

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 to a par of 70. It is an old-school design; tree-lines, bunkered and laid out to use the winds coming off the Escarpment as an additional defense. Although the back tees are a challenge, it s not a long hitter layout; it is a shot-maker layout. Accuracy off the tee and precision iron play will come in handy on this course. The other trait is sloping greens. The green are also fast. The smart play is to keep your ball below the hole. It has hosted one of the premier men’s amateur events, the Porter Cup, for 60 years.

This is the 6th year of hosting the Women’s Porter Cup. The field is typically loaded with top talent making their way on the summer amateur circuit. The course is set up at 6,096 yards and plays to a par of 72. To do this, the Committee blends distances from the Green (longest), Blue (mid) and White (short) tees.

This year the Buckeyes were represented by Zoe-Beth Brake (ZB²) . As it turned out, this was a “quality over quantity” situation.

 Stats & Stuff

Zoe-Beth played the par-3s to an average of

3.13, +2 to par. She played the par-4s to 3.83, -4 to par. The par-5s were played to 4.60. -6 to par.

  • Zoe-Beth double bogeyed the par-3 4th hole and bogeyed the par-3 6th hole in her opening round. For the next two and half rounds, she played the par-3s -1 to par.
  • Zoe-Beth was the only player in the 76 player field to average under par on par-4s.

ZB² had 35 pars, which ranked her T-3rd. She had 14 birdies, which ranked her T-2nd.

Takeaways & Notes

Zoe-Beth’s final round 67 tied several other players for the low round of the tournament. When you are tied for the lead entering the final round, it’s good to respond with a tourney low round.

Some notes on the course:

  • The par-5s really aren’t overly tough. That means anyone in the field can score well, so a player has to maintain focus on these holes. At -6 for the event, Zoe-Beth did.
  • The par-4s are a nice mixture of short, but demanding holes and some longer holes. By “demanding”, I mean power and length are not requirements; precision ball striking and ball control are.
  • Aside from the 185-yard 16th hole, the par-3s aren’t that long; averaging less than 160 yards. The issue is the “optics” from the tee box. You look at the hole and see some of the green, a lot of the framing bunkers and maybe the hole, maybe not. These holes are where you really can’t trust your eyes; you need to trust your caddy/distance measuring device.

Zoe-Beth’s Thursday round of 70 (-2) was astonishing. The winds were running 18-20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph. Controlling the golf ball in those conditions is an art. I golfed on Thursday in similar conditions; my score was no where near 70.

Congratulations to Zoe-Beth (and her caddy) for their impressive win. I hope to see them next June as she defends her title.