Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Essex Country Club in Vermont

Denny and I are getting ever closer to checking off the final few states in our quest to play golf in all 50 states of the U.S. This week we played at the Essex Country Club in Essex Junction, Vermont, about 20 minutes from Burlington, Vermont and about 45 minutes away from our campground in Shelburne, Vermont.The golf course is an interesting mix of what Denny and I call cow pasture golf (open, flat, very young trees, no interesting physical features to the layout) to hilly holes with narrower fairways and tall trees and deep woods to snatch your balls. There were several players walking the course, but slower players allowed others to play through. The rates on a Tuesday were reasonable for us as it was Senior Day so we paid $22 each for green fees and then $34 shared fee for the cart. There is also a Men's day and a Ladies' Day with similar special deals. The course itself from the blue tees is 6545 yards long, from the white tees it is 6045 yards long. The rating/slope is the same for both sets of tees; 70.4/121. For the red tees the yardage is 5350 with a rating/slope of 65.8/111.Despite obvious signs of recent prolonged and heavy rains the course was in fairly good shape. Members and players appear to repair their divots and ball marks on the greens and the maintenance crews were out working on the course as we played. There are a couple of creeks that criss-cross a few of the holes and a couple of ponds as well as scattered sand traps but somehow Denny and I managed to stay out of most of these (okay, okay, I did lose a ball to one of the ponds.) I was a bit put off by the fact that several of the red (women's) tees were simply tee box markers in the fairway instead of a dedicated tee box because you have no idea of the proper yardage from the temporary tee boxes.

We had rain threatening us the entire round which took away from the view of the distant Green Mountains but on a clear day I imagine the views of the mountains from the seventeenth and eighteenth holes are gorgeous.Huge granite boulders along the fairway reminded us of a golf course we played eleven years ago in Bethlehem, New Hampshire. All in all, playing golf here was an enjoyable experience and we would play this golf course again.

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Morning at the Niagara County Golf Course

Think cow pasture. A very, very overgrown, covered with piles of dead, recently cut six inch long grass cow pasture.

To be fair, northwestern New York has received as much rain as the rest of the Midwest recently and due to the flat topography of the golf course it's obvious the rain had no where to run off. Thus the grass couldn't be mowed and when it finally was, it left huge piles of grass covering the fairways and rough. When Denny and I played this course on Friday, the maintenance staff was riding around with big leaf blowers blowing the piles of dead grass off the fairways. The fairways, however were still in need of another cutting as the grass on the fairways ranged in length from an inch to three inches. We would lose our balls in the fairway! And heaven forbid you were in the first cut of rough because we spent as much time there looking for our balls as we did playing.

The Niagara County Golf Course in Lockport, New York is maintained by Niagara County and thus has the reasonable rates of $24 to play eighteen holes with a riding cart for a senior golfer. I believe the regular rate is $28. From the blue tees the yardage is 6483 yards with a rating/slope of 69.9/112. From the white tees the yardage is 6195 yards with a rating/slope of 68.6/109 and from the women's red tees the yardage is 5081 yards with a rating/slope of 67.3/106. There is a tiny creek that runs across the course on several of the holes which for most golfers shouldn't be a problem. The fairways are wide, many of the trees along the fairways are young and well spaced so there are not many places to get in trouble here if the fairways have been cut properly. The course gets a good amount of local play but the golfers seem to fix their ball marks on the greens and the tee boxes weren't torn up. Walking is a reasonable option since the course is so flat and the staff provided water coolers at regular intervals. This would be a great golf course for the beginner and the senior player.
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