Review: Grand Niagara Golf Club (Rees Jones)
Rarely has something with a name desinger as notable as Rees Jones been so, well, nondescipt. But that’s exactly the case at the Grand Niagara Resort’s course created by Jones, a facility that might[photopress:GrandNiagarahole_03.jpg,full,alignright] provide the definition of “inoffensive golf design.”
To start with, courses built in Niagara Falls have a lot going against them out of the gate. They are, largely, built on unexceptional land that is flat as a table top. The starter yesterday said two things of interest. One, that I “wouldn’t spill my drink when you’re driving down the fairway,” and two, that the greens were like the tops of “pool tables.” He’s right on both accounts, though I didn’t take those things as the positives he was trying to describe.
[photopress:GrandNiagarahole_06.jpg,full,alignleft]The truth is that there’s nothing wrong with Jones’ effort at Grand Niagara. The holes all function well and some, including the strong par four third, as well as the clever and nicely defined fifth and sixth (the later being the standout on the course — a long par three with a green site perched in a hillside and guarded by large bunkers). But given the complete lack of elevation change, and Jones’ insistence on using the same large, flash-faced bunkers throughout, the holes on the back nine become indistinguishable. What you get are three types of holes — those that use holding ponds as a feature; those with fescue lining the wide fairways, and the occasional hole that is tree lined.
It appears Jones works to a template. He simply reuses the same style over and over again without regard to the property. In truth, Grand Niagara would have been far better off without the holding pounds and with a more distinct theme. The course might have worked had it been conceived as a heathlands course — and the subtle land might have allowed for such a facility to be created.
Those who pay $125 to play Grand Niagara must feel like something is missing. Sure the course was in great shape — the greens ran true and the bunker sand was nicely compacted. But is that all you should expect for $125? Shouldn’t you want a good golf course that challenges you visually and aesthetically? Shouldn’t golfers want more?
Created over 300 acres, this is supposed to be the first of two courses built for Grand Niagara. The second, to be designed by Greg Norman, has now been put off for several years. I’d be surprised if it ever gets built. At the very least the owners could save themselves some money and take another average high-priced public course out of the mix by never getting it started in the first place.