Cherry Hill Club was established in 1922 when nine founding members from nearby Buffalo acquired a tract of farmland which was then turned over to Walter J Travis for transformation into an 18-hole course.
To mark the club’s 50th anniversary, it hosted the Canadian Open in 1972 and, in preparation for this prestigious national event, Robbie Robinson was called in to upgrade the layout.
In more recent times, further course improvements have resulted in the installation of sub-surface drainage on many of the greens and the layout has been lengthened with the introduction of new tees on a number of holes.
In 2009, architect Ian Andrew oversaw an extensive bunker renovation project, working closely with contractors NMP Golf Construction to rejuvenate all the sand traps on the course. During this process, some fairway bunkers were moved into current landing areas, whilst still adhering to the original design concepts.
Superintendent John Gall has since carried out a) an extensive short grass expansion around the greens and b) a small-scale tree removal program to improve agronomics.
The trademark Travis “chocolate drop” fairway mounds may have been removed down the years but the exquisite character of his original routing remains largely intact.
Feature holes at Cherry Hill Club include strong back-to-back par fives at 6 and 7 (the latter hole played as a par four during the 1972 Canadian Open) whilst the two long, difficult par threes at 9 and 11 are both potential card wreckers.
At first glance the Cherry Hill Club looks like an old-style parkland course with a sprawling 1900’s era whitewashed clubhouse. It is easy to walk as the topography is extremely flat. There is not much water to content with and the mature deciduous trees that line the generous fairways are well manicured underneath. As with most private golf courses it is hard to lose a ball to keep the members happy, but I still managed to deep six two.
Once you play this gem, you will quickly realize that the putting surfaces are the biggest line of defense. The original Walter J. Travis design still holds true today. They are smaller, extremely fast with plenty of movement. Plus, there are swales around most of them that will funnel your errant approach shots off the putting surface. I would put thesee up with some of the toughest that I have ever played.
In the 70’s architect Robbie Robinson was hired to upgrade this course that subsequently hosted two national championships. Recently architect Ian Andrew was commissioned to eliminate some of the bunkering and restore the rest back to the original design.
Using the latest technology, he first built a mound then dug down for the sand. All greens are now raised at the back with a big lip to contend with. The sand is deep and soft but the thick rough, that now surrounds them, is challenging. The fairway bunkers come into play on most par 4’s or 5’s. As I found out they were easy to enter but a difficult to exit.
There are a number of great par-3’s at Cherry Hill starting with the 5th, a 160-yard hole (white tees) across water to a green that has swales all around it. The 9th hole is a long par-3 measuring 190 yards (whites) that is slightly up hill to a green that slopes severely from back to front.
Then there is #11, another long par-3 with maybe the toughest green on the course. There are no flat spots plus if your hit your tee shot long there is a huge swale at the back of the green.
I found that there were also some long par-4’s. 13 is straight par-4 with two large bunkers guarding the front of the green that you must fly. Bogie is a good score here.
14 is another long par 4 with a ditch that cannot be seen about 50 yards short of the green.
There are also a couple of risk/reward holes including the 15th hole, a short par-4 with a large pond that comes into play on the left. The prudent move is to layup before the water otherwise you can risk pulling out a driver if you stay right on your tee shot.
Currently the Cherry Hill Cub is ranked #66 Best in Canada by Top 100 Golf Courses of the World. Your
short game and putting is paramount to scoring well here. There are a couple of things I will guarantee. One, you will definitely be playing out of a bunker and it may take you two to escape. Secondly you will have a least one three putt and probably more.
In summary, do not be fooled by first impressions, this course has stood the test of time and will challenge all of your skills.
Dave Finn is a 5-time award winning golf writer and photographer from Canada. To read more about his travel adventures visit www.golftravelandleisure.com
The Cherry Hill Club was established in 1922 and the Walter Travis designed course would open for play in 1924. Canadian architect Ian Andrew completed a bunker restoration project a few years back, bringing the course back to its Travis origins and the work is sublime. The land Cherry Hill lays on is unremarkable but as with most Travis designs, the greens are small and very undulating and provide more than enough defense for even the best of players.
Cherry Hill has hosted two national championships, including the 1972 Canadian Open and recently hosted a PGA Tour Canada (MacKenzie Tour) event in 2016, winning rave reviews from all of the professionals. It's one of the absolute gems in Niagara but this was only my third-ever visit – I definitely need to get out there more often in the future!
The 1st hole is a downhill par four measuring 353 yards from the championship tees and is a solid representation of what you can expect throughout the day, with precise tee shots and an impeccable short game required to score well.
The 3rd hole is a straight-away 385 yard par four with a diabolical putting surface. The green has a huge ridge that bisects the entire surface and the pin on this day was just on the top part of the ridge, making two putts quite difficult.
The 4th hole is the toughest on the course, a 430 yard par four that doglegs left. A really good driving hole that demands accuracy and length and another featuring a very tough green complex.
You finally get away from the two-shotters on the 5th, a lovely 206 yard par three with a pond fronting the green on the right side and yet another challenging putting surface.
The 8th hole is another beauty: a 430 yard par four with two ponds down the left side and a huge bunker down the right. Precision off the tee is a must here, as the fairway narrows considerably the further you hit the ball.
The 10th is a beautiful looking downhill par four measuring 410 yards. The green is absolutely awesome, as it pitches severely from right to left and from front to back, with a short grass collection area in that back left quadrant catching myriad mishits.
The 11th is a picturesque 192 yard par three with deep bunkers protecting both sides and features another green that slopes sharply from back to front.
The 15th is another lovely hole, a 385 yard dogleg left par four with a large pond running down the entire left-hand side of the hole right up to the severely sloped, two-tier putting surface.
The 18th is a phenomenal closer. It’s a par five measuring 554 yards through a shoot of trees, uphill all the way and often into the wind. Bunkers left and right in the landing area. And my goodness...the green complex here?! Unbelievable! Slopes everywhere, tiers everywhere and three-putts to finish, unfortunately, are commonplace at Cherry Hill.
What an interesting golf course. The Travis-design demands accuracy off the tee through the strategic placement of bunkers, which are plentiful out here. Lots of doglegs, lots of options to roll shots in. A great old-school course. There aren't really any forced carries at Cherry Hill and that makes for a very playable design for every level of player.
The greens are likely the course's best defense but they roll extremely true. So, if you have your touch, you can still score. From a variety perspective, Travis didn't have the greatest piece of land to work with here, as the course is pretty flat throughout. However, he mixes up the holes well, incorporating many doglegs to encourage bending the ball off the tee.
Cherry Hill is a wonderful, throwback type of place and the work undertaken by the club to restore the bunkers was met with wide acclaim. The overall look has been enhanced greatly after Ian Andrew's work, with new tees added (par three 5th and the par four 17th are two that immediately spring to mind) and the angle of play has changed significantly on both of those holes.
This is one of Niagara’s finest courses and if you find yourself in the peninsula or even near Buffalo, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more satisfying place to play.
My full Cherry Hill Club course profile and pictorial can be found here at Now on the Tee: http://nowonthetee.blogspot.com/2007/07/cherry-hil...