Twenty-first century golf in Niagara County
The venerable Porter Cup is played every year at the Niagara Falls Country Club course; the new Seneca Hickory Stick
Ronald S. Montesano
Over the past decade, the Buffalo-Niagara region saw unprecedented growth in public-access golf course construction. Eight, full-size courses proceeded from dig to debut, while two more eighteen-hole facilities added a third nine. The final new-build project (Seneca Hickory Stick in Lewiston) mowed its greens for business last July, bringing to a close the most significant decade of growth for area golf in the last seventy years.
Seneca Hickory Stick seems to be leading the way toward newer and better ways of conducting business, retaining the current clientele and attracting new ones. The Seneca Nation retained the services of Robert Trent Jones II (son of prolific golf course designer Robert Trent Jones, Sr.) to design a golf course on a modest piece of property in Niagara County. Jones and his company president, Bruce Charlton, created a magnificent track whose every hole evokes the excitement, drama, and danger of the nearby Niagara Falls and rapids. SHS will host two Buffalo District Golf Association events in 2011 and rumors abound that the course will one day host a professional event not seen in metro Buffalo-Niagara since the mid 1990s. Playable for beginners to elite golfers, Seneca Hickory Stick met the nineteenth hole demands of its customers by opening a full-service clubhouse (April 2011) less than nine months after the initial shots were struck from the first tee.
Ultimately, a nineteenth century game needs to embrace a twenty-first century world. Social media outlets like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter offer a whole new outlet to grow the game. We need to use these areas to help us grow the game, and to make us more accessible to the public. Without a bit of modernization, the golfing public in Buffalo-Niagara might not take full advantage of the region’s excellent new facilities.
Ronald S. Montesano is a high school golf coach and director of www.buffalogolfer.com. He is slowly working himself back into tournament golf shape.