Designed by the legendary golf architect Donald Ross and completed in 1924, the Lake Course is characterized by open tee shots and demanding approaches to small, often steeply sloped greens. Ross designed nearly 400 courses, many considered the standard of excellence for American golf architecture, including the famed Pinehurst Number 2 (site of the 2005 US Open).
LAKE COURSE #1
With trees left and right and a small right side fairway bunker 237 yards from the tee, Lake #1 is a demanding driving hole. To impede your second shot, there are bunkers left and right of the green. A generous green is receptive to the short iron approach. The green slopes deceptively toward the lake and away from the fairway, making this easylooking hole the third hardest on the front nine of the lake course.
LAKE COURSE #2
Don’t let this short par four lull you into complacency; this hole is no pushover. The pines on the right seem to attract tee shots, while the sloping fairway can feed the long hitter left behind a large buckeye tree. Fairway bunkers right can catch an errant pushed shot, creating a very narrow path to the green. Bunkers left and right guard a narrow green that is canted from back to front and toward the lake. As in many Donald Ross designs, a long approach creates a delicate pitch from behind the green.
LAKE COURSE #3
Though not unusually long, Chautauqua’s "Road Hole" can prove to be a challenging test. Lake #3 tempts the long hitter to go for the green in two. But left to right and a rolling fairway make getting home no easy task. As you approach a very shallow green, a left-front bunker protects that side of the green, making the safe shot to the right. Slope and grain of the green are toward the lake, while a lip in the back makes hitting a long approach shot undesirable.
LAKE COURSE #4
The longest par three on the Lake Course, number four is very stingy in yielding par. Though only 192 yards, this hole frequently plays into or with a crosswind. Should you reach this narrow, sloping green, you will have an even greater task getting the ball to stay on it. Green side bunkers left and right, and a subtle drop off behind the green, challenge the golfer to use his imagination when pitching on. Slope and grain of the green are toward the lake, which makes reading this green tricky.
LAKE COURSE #5
In Lake #5, Donald Ross designed another deceptively difficult par five. At just 466 yards, this hole invites the long hitter to reach the green in two, but a rolling, uphill fairway that slopes to the right, as well as out-of-bounds right, makes the player hit two very precise shots. A safe second shot can be played to the bottom of a gully, which traverses the fairway, leaving a blind third shot (all uphill) to the green. A pond left and close out-of-bounds right provide trouble around the green, which although level, has many undulations to challenge the putter.
LAKE COURSE #6
This 145-yard par three is a welcome break after the difficult par five. However, don’t get too comfortable. The wind can swirl between the trees either holding the ball up (in which case it may find the water), or blowing it long into the trees behind the green. Bunkers left and back right will catch an errant shot. The green slopes toward the pond and the lake, making recovery shots from behind the green and in the bunkers a test in controlling your nerves. The undulating green offers several difficult pin placements.
LAKE COURSE #7
With trees right and left, this long par four requires a demanding tee shot for any hope of reaching the green in two. The uphill rolling fairway rises about 150 yards from the green, making the approach shot blind for all but the longest hitters. Although there are no bunkers, the green is surrounded by trees that narrow the approach, requiring a well placed shot. The slope and grain of the green are toward the lake, causing subtle breaks that are not always obvious.
LAKE COURSE #8
The third of the par threes on the front side, this uphill 150-yard hole plays longer than the indicated yardage. The fairway is linked by trees on both sides and there are two green side bunkers, one in the front right and the other on the left. The double slope of the green is toward the tee and toward the lake, with the grain running toward the tee. As in many of the other holes, there is trouble long of the green.
LAKE COURSE #9
This hole is a long downhill dogleg left par four with a blind tee shot. Wait for the bell signal (to know that the group in front of you is clear), then aim at the green water tank in the distance and let it fly. Trees overhanging right can knock down a poor tee shot, while long and left will lose your ball or leave you with no chance of reaching the green. The ideal approach is from the right side of the fairway to a small, narrow green. A bunker in the right front and a lateral water hazard behind make any approach shot tricky. Grass bunkers on the left and behind will catch many errant shots, but a long approach risks getting wet. Slope on the green is not too severe and from the back to the front.
LAKE COURSE #10
This long downhill par five usually plays downwind, making this hole reachable in two by the long hitter. From the tee, the player should either hit the ball short of the hill or all the way to the bottom of the hill. If your ball stops on this swale, you are left with a difficult downhill second shot. A long rolling fairway, trees right and a water hazard left, combine to challenge even an expert golfer. The small green appears to slope toward the fairway more than it actually does. This small green is protected by bunkers in the front left and right, and by a severe drop-off behind the green, which makes pitching back difficult, especially to back pin placements. Grain is toward the lake.
LAKE COURSE #11
The yardage does not show the difficulty of this hole, as this uphill par four plays into the wind. Its rolling fairway slopes to the right offering many difficult lies. The sloping green, elevated some 30,’ creates a demanding approach. Even a mid-iron approach does not guarantee holding the green. Short of the green, the ball can bury in long grass on the bank or end up in bunkers at the bottom of the bank. Balls that hit the back of the green can end up over the green, leaving a nerve-racking pitch onto a green that slopes toward the lake.
LAKE COURSE #12
This simple looking par three often plays shorter than indicated because of typical following wind and a tee which is elevated some thirty feet. The slope of the undulating green follows the slope of the hill to the left and away from the tee. A sand bunker and trees on the left make the smart play to the right side of the green to feed the ball left to the hole. But don’t play too far to the right because apple trees are there for your ball to hide under.
LAKE COURSE #13
This downhill par five is one of your best opportunities to make a birdie. Though the hole is reachable, this hole features a demanding tee shot with lateral hazard left and trees to the right. From here the fairway rolls down to a second tier, which could leave a downhill lie from about 190 yards. The green, while protected on both sides by bunkers and behind by long grass and trees, is open to running the ball on from the fairway. The green is relatively level with the grain running toward the lake.
LAKE COURSE #14
Though this hole does not appear to be difficult, you will find it doe not yield par easily. A lateral water hazard left dares you to bite off as much as you can chew. Your tee shot should be left of a bunker on the right fairway, because right of this bunker leaves a very long approach to an elevated green. The green is protected on the right by a large overhanging tree and protected left by out-of-bounds. This elevated green is mounded all around, which can bounce your ball into trouble if you miss the green. The slope and grain of the green are toward the lake.
LAKE COURSE #15
This tough little par three is deceptively difficult. From an elevated tee, you must hit your tee shot over a water hazard in front of the green. A steep bank, which can kick your ball back to the bottom if your tee shot is short, rises to the green out of this hazard. However, don’t hit your tee shot too far because the bank continues to rise behind the green, where it ends in the woods. There is not much trouble left and right of the green except the slope of the bank, which makes for difficult chipping onto the green. Slope of the green is from back to front and the grain is toward the lake.
LAKE COURSE #16
The longest of the par fives on the golf course, Lake #16 is a true "three shot" hole. A blind tee shot up over the hill requires you to aim at the middle of three tall trees off in the distance. Three fairway bunkers protect the right side of the fairway on your second shot, making the smart play to the left to set up your third shot. A bunker in the left front and small trees behind frame this large green, which has a slight pitch toward the lake not obvious to the naked eye (grain is also toward the lake). The fact that this hole frequently plays into the wind combined with its rolling fairway makes Lake #16 the fourth most difficult hole on the Lake Course.
LAKE COURSE #17
This uphill par four plays much longer than its measured 387 yards. Its rolling, uphill fairway also slopes to the right, funneling many tee shots into the right rough. From the fairway, an optical illusion makes the green appear much closer than it really is (a fact you will be familiar with when you find your ball twenty yards short of the green). The green is protected by a front-right bunker and depressions left and behind. Severe slope from back to front and left to right make it nearly impossible to get up and down from behind the green. The grain also runs toward the lake, making a two-putt a good goal. Par is a good score here.
LAKE COURSE #18
A single pine tree and a pond on the left and pines on the right make this short par four a demanding driving hole. The rolling fairway dips off the tee then rises again from 150 yards to the green. From the fairway, the surface of the green is not visible except for the longest hitters. A bunker on the right protects this green, which slopes to the right and away from the fairway. Grain follows the slope of the green on this tricky, fast green. An excellent finishing hole to this fine Donald Ross course.
Chautauqua Golf Club
4731 West Lake Road
Chautauqua, NY 14722
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