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Another Voice: Delaware Park golf course could play like St. Andrews

By Ronald S. Montesano

I have the good fortune to direct a golf camp that visits Delaware Park Meadows golf course twice each summer. In addition, I coach local varsity teams that utilize the course for tryouts and practice.

Many is the time that I have barreled safely across fairways, feeling the golf cart jostle and bounce beneath my seat. There is a lumpiness to the Delaware Park golf course that reminds me of a course I once had the great fortune to play: the Old Course at St. Andrews, in Scotland.

In my mind, Delaware Park has the potential to evolve into our version of the Old Course.

Golf in Scotland is egalitarian, for the most part. Access is what the game is about, in the land that claims it as its own. On Sundays, the Old Course shuts down, and its fairways become a public park, where people walk their dogs, picnic and engage in joyful interaction. Remind you of any local place, on any given, warm day?

Of late, work by local community activist and lawyer Kevin Gaughan has incorporated the name of Jack Nicklaus into the future of Delaware Park’s golf course. Along with the proposed new course in industrial South Buffalo, Nicklaus has a plan to revise Delaware Park’s course.

I’m a fan of Nicklaus’ playing record; other than his work with Tom Doak at Sebonack, I’m not nearly as enthusiastic about his design efforts. Suffice to say that his early and middle work imposed his playing ability and style onto the course, demanding that we hacks perform similarly. Remember that high, cut 1-iron you hit the other day? Me neither.

This summer, I had the opportunity to play the Loop, a reversible golf course in Roscommon, Mich. Coincidentally, it was designed by the same Tom Doak mentioned above. Guess what other course is reversible? The Old Course.

Why should Buffalo have a unique, municipal golf course of its own? We know that there really isn’t room for 18 good (not to mention, great) golf holes at Delaware Park’s meadow, so let’s do the following:

Retire the two par-3 holes that sit between Ring Road and the Parkside Lodge, turning that space into a short game practice area and learning center.

Develop a plan to preserve the beautiful trees that populate portions of the meadow, while creating a reversible, linksy layout that plays one way on Monday, the opposite on Tuesday, and so on.

Buffalo’s golfers deserve this gift. I will sign my name as volunteer No. 1 and commit to build a bunker, or shape some mounds, or whatever is needed, in order to ensure that Delaware Park Meadows remains a significant course of the people.

Ronald S. Montesano is a golf coach and the editor of BuffaloGolfer.com.

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