The Course Report
The Course Report is a chance for you to find out more about regional golf, golfers and courses with staff writer Bob Jarzomski.   Read more about this blog.
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category
Posted: July 8th, 2011

The Facts:

Riverside Golf Club

Address: 24537 Highway 19, Cambridge Springs, PA 16403

Phone: (814) 398-4537 ‎

Par: 71 (72 for Women and Seniors)

Yardage: 6334 (Blue), 6028 (White), Senior (5560), Red (5221)

Website: www.riversidegolfclub.com

The Best:
1. The driving range

2. The practice sand trap and pitching range

3. All of the sand traps and other hazards

4. The flat land that is friendly to walkers

5. The Clubhouse/restaurant

6. The scenery

7. The staff

Before/After

1. The Clubhouse/restaurant

2. The driving range

3. The practice sand trap and pitching range

Alcohol

Alcohol can be purchased in the clubhouse. Players cannot bring their own alcohol.

Riverside Golf Club has been open for almost a century, but the current owners have only been in possession of the land for a few years. Patty and Jon Flood, along with friends Linda and Bruce Christiansen, have done well so far in their attempt to take care of the course designed and built by William Baird in 1915.

I’ve noticed that Riverside’s location can deter potential golfers, but it really isn’t far from Erie. All you need to do is head up Peach Street and continue up Route 19 and you’re there.

Riverside is built on a flat piece of land, which is great for people who want to walk. A flat course is usually thought to be less challenging than a hilly course, but Riverside has done everything possible to make a flat course challenging. The course has over 45 sand traps and 6 ponds.

Trees are also a challenge to golfers of any skill level. Riverside is an old course, but the trees are even older. They’ve had decades to grow and form the fairways as well as obstruct the path to the green.

The flat terrain certainly welcomes walkers, but it is also worth mentioning that Riverside has paved cart paths. That’s something most courses in the area can’t say.

Even though the course isn’t the toughest to walk, the owners make sure to have water coolers at every tee box on the hotter days. A restroom is also located amongst the holes for those who drink too much water.

Riverside’s gigantic clubhouse serves as the center point for everything the course has to offer. The Pro Shop is the place to buy green fees and golf supplies and also leads down into the locker rooms. The locker rooms, which even have showers, allow for golfers to clean up and head to the lounge or restaurant after a round.

Riverside’s restaurant, which overlooks the 18th hole, is a place to relax and grab a bite to eat. Even as I talked to owner Patty Flood, people called ahead to order some burgers.

The banquet area conveniently has its own entrance due to the number of events Riverside holds. The room holds a few hundred people, making it ideal for wedding parties and golf outings. Riverside even has special deals with nearby hotels. The people at Riverside will even organize group outings for you. If you’re planning a golfing trip, this is something to take advantage of.

In addition to the golf course, Riverside also has a putting green, driving range, practice sand trap, and chipping range. The putting green is standard; most courses have one. But the driving range is nice because it is rare to find one paired with a public course. Lake Pleasant and Mound Gove, two courses I previously covered, recently closed their driving ranges.

The practice sand trap and chipping range are also nice to have. Riverside is the first course I’ve covered to have either one.

Although Riverside has plenty to offer, the course doesn’t have a hotel associated with it. The course was once associated with the Riverside Inn & Dinner Theatre, but different ownership has separated the two. The course and inn are two separate entities, but they still make a great pairing for those traveling to Cambridge Springs.

I really had no idea what to expect from Riverside Golf Club. I had never been out there for a round of golf. There was much more to the course than I would have thought.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 5th, 2011

The Facts:

Mound Grove Golf Course

Address: 10760 Donation Road, Waterford, PA 16441-2302

Phone: (814) 796-2767 ‎

Par: 72

Yardage: Blue: 6293, White: 5993, Gold: 5656, Red: 5467

Website: www.moundgrove.com

The Best:

1. The Clubhouse

2. The specials and deals

3. The food (My friend, Junior, tells me you won’t find a better pizza in the Erie area)

4. The entertainment

5. The change of pace between the front and back nine

6. The friendly atmosphere

7. The price

8. The wildlife and surroundings

Before/After

1. The Clubhouse – it has everything you should want or need

Alcohol

Alcohol can be purchased at the clubhouse. Golfers cannot bring their own alcohol.

I recently spent some time out at Mound Grove Golf Course in preparation for this week’s Course Report.  The course is owned by Paul Beibel, who runs Mound Grove with the assistance of friends and family.  I had never been out to Mound Grove before, but everyone there made me feel like I was an old friend.

Mound Grove was built in 1993, but the land’s history extends all the way back to the 1840s when a man named Jesse Croover built a house on the property.  Croover’s house, which still stands today, has a great view of the course.  I’ve always been interested in houses with a history, so learning about this Italian-style home was great.

Apparently a secret room in the house was used to harbor runaway slaves back in the 19th century.  The house’s cupola served as a lookout for Mr. Croover as he watched for bounty hunters.

Paul’s grandparents, Peter and Helen, bought the land off Old Donation road back in 1921.  A long time passed before Edward Beibel, Paul’s father, had the idea of transforming the potato farm into a golf course.

Although the course officially opened in 1993, it didn’t become an 18 hole course until a few years after that.  Mound Grove is similar to Crab Apple Ridge in that the first nine holes are vastly different from the last nine.

As Greg Junior, a manager at Mound Grove, gave me a tour of the course, I could see that the front nine had been built on farmland.  The holes were very flat and trees were hard to find.  The wide open fairways allowed golfers to be less accurate with their drives.

The back nine, however, appeared to be carved right out of a forest.  The fairways were much tighter and I could see where golfers frequently had the most trouble.  Paul Beibel joked that the front nine holes are for “hackers” and the back nine are for “golfers” due to the layout of the holes.

The course is pretty long, so I was happy to see a few porta-potties out on the course.  On the back nine, where the trees are more abundant, wildlife can frequently be seen.  Deer are the most common, but numerous animals frequent the land surrounding the course.

Erie’s weather hasn’t been too kind to the area golf courses this summer.  Paul Beibel has over 200 acres of land to take care of, which means the work is never done.  Mr. Beibel told me that he tries to keep the upkeep as organic as possible by avoiding harmful chemicals.

When I walked into the clubhouse, I was surprised to find much more than I had expected.  Yes, there was a pro shop and a place to pay for a round of golf, but I also found a large bar and restaurant.

I found myself wishing my stomach was empty as I eyed the chicken wings and a few slices of pizza.  The workers at Mound Grove make their own food and sauces.  I immediately decided to go back to Mound Grove for some food when I have the chance.

Much like the old house on the property, the clubhouse was also built in the 1800s.  It was remarkable to see a barn so big that had been built by hand.  But with so much space in the barn, the Beibel family makes sure to do whatever they can to keep the place packed with people.

The restaurant and bar has food specials every day and the golf course makes sure to have some discounts, too.  Wednesday and Thursday nights are usually karaoke nights at the bar.  Live bands and other forms of entertainment are usually booked for the weekend.

The Beibels also try to plan beer pong and corn hole tournaments every now and then.  I was even told that a Texas Hold’ em tournament might be on the horizon. Mound Grove might be unplayable during the winter months, but the land is located right next to some snowmobiling trails.  Mound Grove Golf Course seems to always have something fun in the works.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 24th, 2011

The Facts:

J.C. Martin Family Golf Center

Address: 652 Shunpike Rd Erie, PA 16508-2753

Phone: (814) 864-1821 ‎

Par: 32

Yardage: 2284

Rates: $8 for nine holes; $6 at twilight

The Best:

1. The price

2. The location

3. The clubhouse

4. A great place to meet fellow golfers

5. A great place for beginners to practice and get better

6. The course is kept in good shape

Before/After

1. The Erie Zoo

2. Ice Skating

3. YMCA

4. Dairy Queen

5. Peach Street

Alcohol

Alcohol is not permitted.

J.C. Martin Family Golf Center, a municipal golf course, was the place I played most often while growing up, so writing about it this week involved a lot of reminiscing. The course opened in 1919, so I know I’m just one of many children to grow up at J.C. Martin.

Some might criticize J.C. Martin for not being a difficult course; but those people fail to see the value of the only golf course located within the City of Erie limits. Many people enjoy a relaxing round of golf at J.C. Martin, but the course also serves as a learning environment for Erie’s young golfers.

Almost every hole has a bench to rest on, a garbage can, and a ball cleaner. Not much else can be found out on the course except for a drinking fountain located next to the sixth hole tee box.

The location of the course is perfect for those who can’t yet drive or don’t have the time to head out to some of the other courses. As I drove over to the course this week, I saw a few kids walking to the course with their golf bags on their shoulders.

I used to take advantage of the low price of the green fees ($8). Golfers can play all day for only $14 if they want to. A seasonal membership is only $160 for kids and $195 for college students.

The land J.C. Martin was built on is rather limited, which ended up restricting the design of the course. The course itself is very straight as well as back and forth.  Elevation changes, sand traps and a winding creek give each hole individual challenges, but the course is still a little plain.

The Erie Zoo and two roads form boundaries around the course. Trees form boundaries around the different holes. The trees are not a problem for the most part. The fairways aren’t wide, but they aren’t tight, either.

A large putting green is located next to the clubhouse. It’s a great place for golfers to kill time while waiting to tee off.

J.C. Martin’s clubhouse is small, but it has what a golfer might need. The clubhouse mostly sells candy, but my favorite thing to order is the pepperoni balls. A pro shop is located in the clubhouse for anyone who might need to pick up a few items for a round of golf.

The clubhouse also features a few tables with chairs set in front of a television. It’s almost a guarantee that some kids will be sitting inside having a snack. J.C. Martin Golf Course is a family place, so alcohol is strictly prohibited.

All of the golf courses I’ve covered so far have either been hidden or located a good distance from the city. As a result, those courses didn’t have much going on around them.

J.C. Martin is different in this respect. The course does border a neighborhood, but it is also very close to Peach Street and many establishments.

Kids who play a round of golf at the course could head over to the Erie Zoo or to the John M. Cochran Ice Arena afterwards. A YMCA is just across the street for those who have memberships. And Dairy Queen is over on Peach if the heat is proving to be too much.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 17th, 2011

The Facts:

Gospel Hill Golf and Country Club

Address: 4415 Steimer Road, Erie, Pa

Phone: (814) 899-5700 ‎

Par: 70

Yardage: 5527 (White), 5299 (Red)

Website: www.gospelhillgolf.com

The Best:

1. The price

2. The contrast between the front and back nine

3. The Clubhouse

4. The deck outside

5. Secluded from busy and loud roads

6. Easygoing staff

7. Scenery

Before/After

1. Penn State Behrend

2. Sidelines Sports Bar and Grill

Alcohol

Players may not bring their own alcohol. Alcohol can be purchased at the clubhouse

I chose Gospel Hill Golf and Country Club for this week’s Course Report.  The course is tucked in between the houses of a small neighborhood.  It stands out from all of the houses, which isn’t a bad thing.  The course has been in the area for over half a century and is important to the surrounding area.

Back in 1958, Ed Kerner realized the land he lived on was a perfect fit for a golf course.  Kerner and his friend, Mike Brosman, stopped playing golf  to build a course of their own.  It took almost five years to complete the first nine holes of the course, and Gospel Hill finally opened in 1962.

I was told that Ed Kerner wasn’t satisfied with a nine hole golf course; he wanted a full 18 holes.  In 1964, Kerner was able to purchase enough land to house the back nine holes of the golf course.  Two more years of hard work followed before Gospel Hill was completely finished.

Ed Kerner passed away in 1969, but his two daughters, Linda and Becky, continue to run Gospel Hill.

The way the course was created might explain why a few golfers at  mentioned that the front nine and back nine are practically two different courses.  The first nine holes are very short and narrow whereas the last nine are wide and long.

Both halves of the course present their own challenges.  I remember experiencing the shift of the course structure when I last played at Gospel Hill.  It was hard for me to get bored with the layout.

A good sized putting green sits next to the first tee so golfers can warm up before a round.

The owners have done a lot to ensure the golfers have whatever they might need while playing a round of golf.  Benches can be found at every tee box and a drinking fountain can be found between the front and back nine.  A few pop machines are located outside the clubhouse.

The spacious clubhouse has plenty of tables to sit at as well as a small pro shop, bar, and snack counter.  The small TV in the corner was playing ESPN, combined with the wood paneling and outside deck gives the clubhouse a familiar feeling of home.  The deck overlooks the ninth green, making it the perfect place to rest and watch some golf.

The clubhouse has a bar, so any outside alcohol is neither needed nor allowed.

While out at Gospel Hill, I noticed how close the golf course is to Penn State Behrend.  It might be worth it for students to bring their golf clubs to school for the warmer months of the year. Other than Behrend, the area surrounding Gospel Hill doesn’t have many attractions.

Gospel Hill has a few specials to take advantage of.  For instance, Wednesday features a “buy one get one free” on green fees.  The price of a round of golf is another thing to take advantage of.  At $18 for a round, Gospel Hill literally costs one dollar per hole.  More specials and other information can be found at the course’s website (www.gospelhillgolf.com).

 

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 10th, 2011

The Facts:

Lake Pleasant Golf Course

Address: 9170 Lake Pleasant Road, Erie, PA 16509-5752

Phone: (814) 825-5642 ‎

Par: 33

Yardage: 2126 (White), 1956 (Red)

Website: www.lakepleasantgolfcourse.com

The Best:

1. Clubhouse

2. The course design and the challenges of each hole

3. Mini-golf

4. Good course/green maintenance

5. Clean bathrooms

6. friendly staff/owners

7. The scenery

8. Angel, Linda and Dennis Hancock’s dog

Before/After

1. Mini-golf

2. The Clubhouse

3. The Boardwalk Tavern

4. The Beechwood Inn

Alcohol

Players may bring their own alcohol.  Alcohol cannot be purchased at the clubhouse

I rolled down the windows in my car and headed out to Lake Pleasant Golf Course for this week’s Course Report.  Lake Pleasant Road, from where the course gets its name, is mostly surrounded by farmland, but a golfer’s paradise sits right in the middle.

Linda and Dennis Hancock built the course 20 years ago.  I was surprised to find that the land the golf course rests on used to be a slaughterhouse in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Dennis, who worked in the cementing business, thought building the course would be a nice retirement job.  He ended up working much harder than he originally thought he would.

The owners took great care in turning the land into a scenic public golf course with a private and professional look.  Dennis said the grass is cut to five different heights to make rounds more challenging.  The course also features five water hazards and a great number of trees to frustrate the golfers.

I played Lake Pleasant last year and those hazards were certainly too much for my mediocre golf skills.  The course forced me to take some approach shots and made me nervous to look at the scorecard.  But that’s what golfing is all about.

The owners made sure to have a bench on every tee box so golfers can rest when they have the time.  A porta-potty is located near the back of the course and each hole has a cart path made of red brick that slowly fades into grass.

My favorite part about the course was the clubhouse.  It once was a run-down barn that was built in the 1850’s, but Linda and Dennis renovated it and made it a part of the course.

The beautiful clubhouse has a spacious front porch where golfers can sit and watch people start their rounds.  Inside, it has a small pro shop and a few tables where people can get out of the sun.  Outisde, picnic tables sit in the shade of the clubhouse.

Lake Pleasant Golf Course offers numerous leagues for golfers to play in.  Dennis told me that he lets the leagues have parties and gatherings in the clubhouse – free of charge.

The clubhouse doesn’t serve food, but there is a grill available for anyone wanting to bring something to cook.  A few vending machines sit outside the clubhouse to ensure players don’t get too thirsty.

Alcohol isn’t sold, but golfers are welcome to bring their own.  The Boardwalk Tavern and Beechwood Inn, both located on Wattsburg Road, provide a good time only a short distance from the course.

Lake Pleasant is known for its golf course, but the land contains a great mini-golf course as well.  The putt-putt course was constructed nine years ago.  It features its own clubhouse and parking lot, but is still a part of Lake Pleasant.  Linda and Dennis brag that I’d have to drive over 100 miles to find a mini-golf course as nice as theirs.

Lake Pleasant’s website (www.lakepleasantgolfcourse.com) offers a printable coupon for a dollar off the regular price for a round of mini-golf.

The course also has a small putting green but the driving range was recently closed.

It is obvious that Linda and Dennis take good care of the golf course.  With the course, mini-golf, and their house all on the property, their work is never complete.

 

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 6th, 2011

The Facts:

Crab Apple Ridge Golf Course

Address: 10085 Peach Street, Waterford PA 16441

Phone: (814) 796-3106

Par: 72

Yardage: 6484 (Blue), 6109 (White), 5476 (Gold), 5157 (Red)

Rates (Walking): $16 (9 holes), $20 (18 holes)

Rates: (Riding): $23 (9 holes), $30 (18 holes)

Website: http://www.crabappleridge.com/

The Best:

1. The clubhouse

2. Wide and narrow fairways create a challenge

3. Ice filled coolers can be rented for beer

4. The scenery

5. Good course/green maintenance

6. Nice bathrooms

7. The benches, garbage cans, and toilets spread across the course

8. Relaxed dress code

9. Decent price

10. Easy to find (Just follow Peach St.)

Before/After

1. The Clubhouse / Divot’s Bar and Grill

2. Tee Jay’s

3. Sparrow Pond Family Campground

Alcohol

Outside beer cannot be brought onto the course, but beverages are available for purchase at the clubhouse

Driving to Crab Apple Ridge Golf Course was simple since once I got to Peach Street I had to do was head south until I saw the large, gray clubhouse and sprawling fairways on the east side of the road. Even with my poor sense of direction, it was easy to find.

The course spills over 125 acres of land that once helped form the New York-Pennsylvania state line and was occupied by farmland and orchards. The course gets its name from the crab apple trees that grew in those orchards.

I chatted with Helen Tracy who owns the course with her husband, Louis “Rusty” Tracy. Rusty and Helen started building the course back in 1993 and continue to improve the course annually.

Their goal: Make Crab Apple Ridge a public course on par with the quality of a country club.

The course looked very different to me as I moved from hole to hole. Pulling into the parking lot, I noticed the holes closest to the clubhouse hardly had any trees; errant tee shots don’t appear to be devastating on these holes.

Walking farther from the clubhouse, the vegetation grew denser and the holes were more clearly defined. These holes could prove more of a challenge due to the tightness of the fairways.

It was nice to see sturdy benches and large garbage cans at every tee box. With a course so large, having a place to rest is key. A few porta-potties are spread across the course as well. However, a lack of drinking fountains was a downer and I had to suffer because I was too cheap to buy a pop from the vending machine out on the course.

Although I only walked the course, I was disappointed with some of the cart paths. The paths were mostly dirt and had gravel in some parts. There were a few sections I came across that were uneven or had potholes.

I felt at home in the clubhouse. In the pro shop I found myself staring at pictures, plaques, and trophies the Tracy family had placed there. The shop was small, but it had anything a golfer might need.

Divot’s Bar and Grill occupies the rest of the space. The bar was plain, but the smell of homemade pulled pork made me wish my stomach was empty. There were plenty of tables to sit at and a few televisions to watch while passing time in the air conditioning.

The bathrooms were small, but immaculate. As someone who despises public bathrooms, I had no trouble at Crab Apple Ridge.

Outside the clubhouse were a few different colored picnic tables on the wraparound porch. The tables are an inviting place to sit and watch the golfers starting or finishing their rounds.

I asked a few golfers why they played golf and their response was routinely “for the challenge.” I assume the scenery must definitely come into play as I sat and watched over the well manicured holes of the Crab Apple Ridge Golf Course.

Crab Apple Ridge didn’t offer anything in addition to the course and clubhouse. But I did notice that the Sparrow Pond Family Campground wasn’t far down the road. Anyone who decides to spend some time at the campground might find it smart to bring their clubs with them.

But when your round is over, take a few minutes to stop into Tee Jay’s, for some ice cream and can cool down after the round. Although I passed on the ice cream, I couldn’t resist buying some cotton candy ice cream before I headed home.

Some Course Photos:

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: May 25th, 2011

Note:  This year, we are handling the golf season a little differently.  Michael Dill, a local college student at Pitt, is going to profile a local golf course each week.  But instead of writing about it from a player’s perspective, he will talk about the entirety of the course including amenities, features and insider knowledge that you only get from people who play there all the time.  In addition, he will offer his Best list (what makes the course stand out) and his Before/After list, where he will let you know what you can before or after your round.  Leave your comments and let Mike know if you think he missed out on something or if you would like to see him include your favorite course.


The Facts:

Fox Run Golf Course

Address: 2123 Strong Road, Waterford, PA 16441-2141

Phone: (814) 796-6400

Par: 36

Yardage: 3217 (Blue), 3031 (White), 2438 (Gold), 2262 (Red)

Rates: $12 (9 holes), $16 (18 holes)

The Best:

1. The Fox Den

2. The wide open fairways

3. The rest stop between the second and third holes

4. Clean bathrooms

5. The price

6. Quiet and secluded

7. Good course/green maintenance

Before/After

1. The Clubhouse / Fox Den

2. Putting green

Alcohol

Outside beer cannot be brought onto the course, but beverages are available for purchase at the clubhouse

Fox Run is a family-oriented golf course that has matured into an enticing destination since opening to the public in 1992.  The course initially consisted of only six holes and was built for private use by Richard Dill and his family, the original owners.

The course was sold to current owner Pat Worley in 2001, but Fox Run strives to maintain an atmosphere where everyone is family.  The course’s original clubhouse, which is Worley’s home, can be seen off to the right of the sixth hole’s fairway.

The earliest version of the course was built on a smaller piece of land, allowing for only six holes.  In order to play nine holes, players had to zigzag across the course.  After the fourth hole, golfers would play the third green from a different direction, creating the fifth hole.  The second and eighth holes shared a green as did the seventh and ninth holes.

Of the original six holes, three are still in use today.  What was the second hole is now the sixth, while the old third and fourth holes are now the seventh and first holes, respectively.

The course’s signature hole, No. 5, has a memorial plaque for John “Jack” Dill just past the green.  Another plaque further back marks the grave of Fritz, the Dill family’s Labrador Retriever.  The fox-shaped 150-yard markers painted by the Dill family are still in use at the course.

Fox Run continues to grow.  The trees planted during the early years of the golf course are large enough to define the fairways.  A few of the greens and tee boxes have been relocated in order to allow smoother transitions from hole to hole.  This transformation allows golfers to use drivers to their advantage on the wide fairways.

Three natural ponds on the land have been rehashed to form six ponds that stretch across the course.  Pat Worley also added the challenge of sand traps, which did not exist in the early years of the course.

Even though much has been done in terms of advancing the course, more improvements need to be made. Some of the cart paths near the clubhouse were paved, but most of the paths are pretty rough. Potholes and rocks are frequent; small dirt and rock piles also blocked a few paths. A few benches could be found at tee boxes, but they tended to be dilapidated and dirty.

One of the nicer features Fox Run offers is the rest stop located between the second and third holes.  A grill and a vending machine are available for those who are hit by cravings after teeing off.  At the very least, the rest stop provides shelter in case of extreme weather.

The clubhouse is another place golfers can go to put a roof over their heads.  A small pro shop is just inside the entrance, but the Fox Den is the central attraction of the clubhouse.

The main room features a recently renovated bar as well as around a dozen tables and multiple flat screen televisions.  Wi-Fi is available for those who may need to access the Web.  Giant windows and a wraparound porch overlook the course to the south.

The smell of meat on the grill combines with the laughter of the golfers to form a welcoming environment for visitors.  The food served at the Fox Den is homemade; it isn’t a place where pre-packaged concession items are heated up.  Golfers aren’t allowed to bring their own beer, but they are able to buy some at the clubhouse.

The clubhouse and a small putting green are pretty much the extent of what the area has to offer in terms of places to go before or after playing a round of golf.  Still, a lack of options doesn’t mean Fox Run has nothing to offer.

Pat Worley has done an admirable job in building upon the foundation the Dill family created.  The surrounding Waterford area was largely undeveloped when Fox Run was first built.  The only other place of interest was a cemetery with graves dating back to the early 1800’s.  Currently, Fox Run serves as the community’s main attraction.

Fox Run is constantly being updated, but the history of the course isn’t disappearing.  The course has formed a friendly community that convinces people to keep making trips out to Waterford.

 

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 29th, 2011

Golf season, thank heavens, is just around the next bend from the next (first?) warm spell of the spring. You can help your friends and neighbors gear up by making sure your tournament listing gets into the Erie Times-News Golf Guide.

Listings are included free of charge, but must be received by April 15, 2011, at 5 p.m. The guide will be published May 13.

Listings should include the date and time of the tournament, cost, registration deadline, names and phone numbers of contacts and other information.

E-mail to sports@timesnews.com with Golf Guide calendar in the subject line; fax to (814) 870-1808, attn.: Sports Dept., with Golf Guide calendar somewhere on the page, or drop off or mail to Erie Times-News Sports, Golf Guide Calendar, 205 W. 12th St., Erie, PA 16534.

See you on the course.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 13th, 2010

My golf game sat dormant for a year until I played Union City Country Club on Thursday.

I hadn’t played because of a lack of time — or making time — than anything else. Yeah, I know, a poor excuse for not enjoying a great game. Hopefully, I can change that in the near future.

With a lack of playing under my belt, I was eager to hit the course and curious to see what shape my game was in.

The first hole at Union City, which is located off Route 8, is a 350-yard par 4 that goes up the hill. It’s a nice, inviting way to start off a round.

And I passed my first test.

My 3-wood off the tee hooked, as it usually does, but I still was left with about 100 yards to the green. Unfortunately, there were some trees blocking my approach. I took out my 60-degree wedge and sent my ball into the air.

It clipped some leaves but still landed on the green in regulation, leaving me with about 30 feet for a birdie.

I left it short — man, I hate leaving a birdie putt short. I had about 4 feet for my par and sank it, catching the left side of the hole and falling in.

First hole, first par.

For me, it could only get worse. And, believe me, it did.

I will say I managed par on the last hole of the front nine, a 375-yard par 4. You need to clear a small stream with your tee shot. It shouldn’t come into play, unless you top your shot and load it up with topspin. From there, the hole curves back to the left, with sand on the right-hand side of the green.

My tee shot wasn’t very promising, hooking back into the fairway on No. 8. However, I had a clear shot from 150 yards. If I went long, the sand would enter the picture.

It was a needless worry as I stuck my 8-iron onto the green. I salvaged a two-putt for par from about 35 feet.

Union City could be considered two courses in one. The front nine (par 36, 3,285 yards), which opened in 1960, is fairly open, which is helpful for someone like me who turns a draw into a hook too often. There are trees than can enter the picture, but I didn’t encounter trouble like I did on the back.

It was perfect for someone like me getting back into the swing of things.

The back nine (par 36, 3,010 yards), however, is a different story. It opened in 2000 and has plenty of trees, which is nice on warm, sunny days like the one I had.

However, you need to be accurate off the tee, or you’ll be looking for your Titlist in the woods.

You’re challenged right away on the back, where you need a strong tee shot on No. 10 to clear a pond. But clearing the water isn’t the only tough shot. Spray it left or right, and you’ll be in the trees.

I love the finish of the round on Nos. 17 and 18. Both set up well with my draw/hook. No. 17 is a 275-yarder that doglegs left. I love swinging away on those holes, not caring how much hook I get. The green is sloped, so you need to leave the ball below the pin for an uphill put.

The round ends up with a 315-yard par 4. I hit my best tee shot of the day on 18. It was a perfect draw, going up the slight hill.

The course has charm, and the staff from general manager Bill Dinsmore on down was very friendly and helpful.

I was impressed with the relaxed feel and didn’t feel nervous bringing my 8-year-old and 10-year-old sons with me. In fact, any worries left after I saw on different occasions a couple kids playing with their mom, a non-playing girlfriend tagging along with a boyfriend, and a wife watching while her husband played. It was very family friendly.

Playing in August after a dry, muggy summer, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a lot of brown on any course. Union City was full of color and the greens were soft.

I missed playing the past 12 months, but I’m glad I ended my hiatus by hitting the links at Union City. Hopefully I don’t wait as long for my next round. And I definitely want to return to Union City Country Club in the future.

Course details

Union City Country Club

36-36—72

3,285-3,010—6,295

9400 Club Road, located off Route 8

Union City, PA

Phone: 814-438-2810

Website: unioncitygolfclub.com

Notes: Check out their website for a coupon. Also, the clubhouse offers a bar and restaurant.

– Rick Green, rick.green@timesnews.com

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 7th, 2010

– Reviewed by John Dudley on Aug. 3, 2010

You know how there are places from your youth that always provide a sense of comfort and nostalgia? Maybe the ice cream stand you visited after Little League games? Or the beach house your family rented every summer?

For me, one of those places is Venango Valley Inn and Golf Course. I grew up in Crawford County and spent my formative golf years slashing around Venango Valley back when it was a cheap, accessible dog track whose promise was concealed by overgrown flora, shaggy trees and bumpy greens.

The good news is that Venango is still cheap. But aside from the hole routing and the name, it’s nothing like the course I played as a teenager spraying tee shots all over the lot with my old Taylor Made Burner.

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Posted in: Uncategorized