Our course has two faces. Front nine, hills. Back nine, swampland. It requires physical and mental stamina, from the deep vale off the 1st tee to the ascent around the pond before 18 green. Do not expect the same shot twice, and lies around the greens are rarely on the same level as is the flag, making the flat chip or pitch an anomaly.
This layout does not demand long tee balls from its competitors, but rather an acute ability to manage one’s game and temperament. Very few holes reward the long shot with the same penalty that threatens the wayward one. Marshy land encroaches into the player’s field of vision on 5 holes on the back nine, adding the threat of a murky demise to the already threatening reality of smaller greens, side hill stances and lies, sand and trees.
Bring patience, accuracy and short game skills. East Aurora Country Club is a fun and wonderful test of golf, as evidenced by the quality field that disputes the International Junior Masters each year.
No 1 Benders Alley
Par 4 426 yards
No 2 Split Personality
Par 3 160 yards
No. 3 – Blind Poke
Par 5 515 yards
This par five is controlled by drive placement. Fairly long and straight presents an opportunity to reach the green in two; crooked changes the hole into an easy bogey. The telephone poll in the distance provides an alignment aid to the middle of the green. Avoid the downslope if you choose to lay up. The green sits above the dip in the fairway, and has two distinctive levels.
No. 4 – Dark Horse
Par 3 235 yards
A long demanding par three requiring a pure, straight strike to reach the green which has a drastic drop-off on its left side.
No. 5 – Needle’s Eye
Par 4 329 yards
The first of two narrow par fours, this brief affair requires a laser-straight tee ball to avoid OB right and trees left. The green sits elevated, protected by no bunkers, although precision distance control is a must.
No. 6 – Wicked Oak
Par 4 369 yards
A demanding hole off the tee and into the green. Left and right stand guardian tree clusters, imploring a safe play to the middle of the fairway. A delicate approach to well protected green is a must.
No. 7 – The Notch
Par 5 533 yards
A visually-striking par five, this hole follows the trace of the railroad tracks on a left to right curve, along the side of a hill. The drive must be played left, in order to avoid ob and rough right. The second is blind, to the top of, or just over, the hill. Stay right of the big pine tree. Water protects the green on approach, forcing a shot to the right.
No. 8 – Upper Hand
Par 3 175 yards
The third front side par three is a blind, uphill shot to a large, two-tiered green. Choose your club wisely, as you must match distance and line to find the green.
No. 9 – Valley Road
Par 4 410 yards
The front nine closer is a medium-length par four, down then up to an enormous green. Tee shots favoring the right side of the fairway may find “birdie knoll”. Bunkers guard both sides, once again requiring pinpoint accuracy.
No. 10 – Sinking Pond
Par 4 346 yards
Another short par four, number ten offers two options: lay up to the middle of the protected fairway, or go up and over the trees right to challenge the elevated green.
No. 11 – Rail Trail
Par 4 403 yards
A tough par four, downhill, bending right to left, with a pond short on the left and OB on the right. A play too close to the left side results in an approach eclipsed by trees. The green sits slightly elevated with small left and right side traps.
No. 12 – No Way
Par 5 453 yards
Another risk-reward par five, this hole plays longer than its number, due to the uphill approach. A creek-like pond bisects the fairway at the dogleg. The elevated green makes distance control a must on any approach shot.
No. 13 – Inferno
Par 3 190 yards
A picturesque par three, played from an elevated tee to an elevated green. Short is better than long, from which there is little hope for recovery.
No. 14 – Trillium
Par 4 378 yards
Another short dogleg, protected by swamp right and treed hillside left. After the bend, your approach will need to navigate the sand protected green that will guide the ball right as it slopes towards sinking ponds marsh.
No. 15 – Beachhead
Par 3 182 yards
A mid-length par three, a minor volcano of sand rises from the front-right portion of the green. Short and left, either chipping or putting, is a safe play.
No. 16 – Grandview
Par 5 476 yards
The third reachable par five, number sixteen provides many late-round heroics at the International Junior Masters. The fairway is wide enough to let the drive out, and the green, although protected by bunkers, is certainly an agreeable target. If laying up, hit the proper tier to avoid a three-putt.
No. 17 – Poplar Hill
Par 4 475 yards
The “Beast Of The East,” number seventeen is another version of heartbreak hill. If you hit right, you’ll be crying as you walk back up the hill to the fairway. The long, straight drive to the left is rewarded with an unobstructed look at the green protected by sand on both sides.
No. 18 – Waterloo
Par 4 367 yards
A terrific finishing hole, the best play off the tee is an iron or hybrid, downhill, to the tiny fairway. The hillside right and the swamp left are not options. An iron shot must carry water and sand to reach the elevated green.