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Lake View Country Club

Carey and I may soon become country club members. Lake View Country Club in my hometown of North East - my home course during my high school years - has a special on end-of-year memberships. Needless to say, we're interested.

I'm particularly interested given the, uhhh, quality of their web site. It's poor, and I hope to work something out whereby I redo their site, update it, add features, and so on in exchange for a discount or free membership.

Lake View Country Club is, bar none, the best course in northwestern PA. I haven't played them all, but Erie is home to three of the region's best (the other two being Kahkwa and Lake Shore). I studied golf course architecture as a kid, and this course will withstand the test of time for quite awhile. At 6700 from the tips, the course isn't short, but it offers up a mean test that keeps the driver in the bag quite frequently for longer players. Slick greens, slanted fairways, and elevation changes keep players on their toes. I'll write more about each hole below.

Front Nine

The first is a 550-ish yard par five that doglegs slightly to the right. It's flat and not particularly punishing: 230 off the tee, 180 on a lay up to the right side of the fairway to avoid a large tree left of the green, and you've only got a wedge to the green. The green is bunkered left front and right front and has a pair of ridges: horizontal halfway back and vertical on the front half, creating three separate tiers. I love par fives as opening holes because you can recover from a poor tee shot and still make a par, but you're not very likely to make birdie or eagle.

Two, despite my natural draw, never set up well for me. It's a 390-yard hole that goes up and over a hill and to the left. The fairway is crowned, deflecting shots left and right, and your second is typically played from a downhill lie. The whole green is visible and there are a lot of chipping areas around the green. There's more room left than it looks, favoring a hook over a cut or a fade, and the green is relatively flat. It's a very solid test that requires a great 2I or 3W from the tee. Only crazy people hit driver here.

Three is a 390-ish yard par 4 with a steep hill down and right in the landing area. If you hit 3W you lay back quite a ways, but are positioned better to come into the green. The fairway is pinched by really tall trees about 40 yards short of the green, meaning you have to be near the fairway to have a reasonable approach to the green. Otherwise, you're simply blocked out. The miss here is right, as the fairway kicks that way, but a miss left will usually remain in play. If you're hitting the driver straight, you've got a short club in. But straight at Lake View is really, really straight.

Four is a 180-yard par three that always seems to freak people out. Trees line the left hand side, and pot bunkers left and right trap players. Most people chicken out and hit a weak shot right, where there appears to be some room, but really the slope leaves you with a difficult up and down. The green is an accentuated pear shape, with the stem part front, and nearly everyone comes up short. I've played from the back bunker once, and seen people hit over this green less than five times in well over 300 rounds. The green is rather slanted towards the front, making this a tough par three for its length.

Five lets you blast it a little. It's a 390-yard par four that doesn't feature a whole lot of trouble left or right. You can get into a sticky spot with the trees right - and a bunker left front of the green steers you in that direction, but the bail out is left and leaves you with only a 9I or so into the green - which really just takes the bunker out of play anyway. The tee shot is semi-blind over a small ridge, though the hole sets up visually well and lets you know where to go. The slight downhill lie on the approach helps to separate the good players - those that control their distances - from those who simply swing well on occasion.

Six is a 570-yard par five - a true three-shotter - that prefers a cut from the drive. Draws will find the fairway, but the dogleg right really rewards a cut as the fairway bends right a touch about 200 yards off the tee. The second, with a long iron, should be slightly left to avoid the tree line and to open up the green. A relatively flat green, this hole can be attacked on the approach. There is very little trouble around the green (left and short are safest). I once birdied this hole and the first, sinking 30-footers on each, to beat Tim (who was three spots ahead of me my sophomore year) out of $20. I later bought his 2I, which I used on my second shot on this hole many, many times afterwards.

Seven is a bitch: a 210-yard par three that flummoxed everyone who came to it. A flat green fronted by two bunkers, this hole plays into the wind every day of the year. We've hit solid drivers that came up short here, and never less than a 4I. Ever. Playing a 5I and then trying to get up and down may not be a terrible idea. 🙂 I've seen all of three birdies, ever, on this hole - and two were from chip-ins.

The front ends with two of my favorite holes. Eight is a 360-yard two-shotter. The fairway tightens 30 yards in front of the green, and the fairway slopes right, tempting players to hit their banana ball there. It's good to be right on this hole, though: at least you're hitting your second shot away from the 30-foot drop to the water right of the green. I once played with a 65-year old guy who, from a bunker 20 feet below the green's surface at the base of the hill, holed out for a birdie. It remains the single best shot I think I've ever personally witnessed. He nearly had a heart attack when I screamed that he'd made it, then he nearly had another climbing up the hill!

Nine goes back along eight and drops down considerably about 200 yards from the tee - even a weak tee shot rolls down another 30 yards or so. It favors a draw or a straight ball that cuts the corner and leaves only a short club in. The green is heavily tiered, rewarding a shot that stays below the hole. I've hit shots to a few inches on this hole and I've seen people three-putt from 10 feet due to the slopes. Placement is key.

Back Nine

Ten starts off beautifully: it's a 90° dogleg. This is usually a cheap trick in golf course design: a way to turn a 320-yard hole into a challenging par 4. Force the players to hit a 4I from the tee and a 5I to the green. Not so here: this hole measures 400+ and forces a solid 3W or driver from the tee to reach the landing area, and then a 7I or more depending on how far right your tee shot is. Bailing out to the right is fine… if you don't mind hitting a 3I or more to the green. The green appears to be rather flat, but is quite tricky: it breaks in ways you don't expect. Par is a good score here.

Eleven favors a fade: it's a 350-yard hole that plays uphill the whole way. It bends right and the green is one of the most severe on the course, sloping back to front. I've played from the left, I've played from the right, but this hole is set up beautifully: you have to do one thing to get your ball into play, and if you don't do it, you're in the rough. There's no mixed message on this tee. It's important to take enough club on the approach. Longer clubs don't stop as quickly, that's true, but the slope of the green creates a natural backstop. This green sees more three-putts than any other on the course, save thirteen.

Twelve is a beautiful par three measuring 140. Played over water that doesn't actually come into play, the green is long and narrow, greatly affecting yardage. Rarely does someone go over this green, and far left is dead: you're on slanted ground leading up to the thirteenth tee. The green is relatively flat, and this hole gives up birdies if you're striking short irons well. I once played out of turn in a match, putting the ball to 20 feet or so. Tim (the dickhead from Corry, with whom we had a tremendous rivalry) asked me to rehit as he's allowed to do in match play. I thought "ha, I'll show him" and put my second shot to eight feet.

Thirteen is brutal to most, but only because it requires a draw if you plan to hit your tee shot more than 230 yards. At 500 yards, it's a reachable par five. I've reached it with a 2I and a 3W on a few occasions, but typically lay up into a huge valley short of the green. The slant on this green is dramatic: it feels as though it's 30° in places. It's a beautiful hole that, as I look at photos, seems to have undergone a great amount of work lately. The bunkers left and right have been redone and a bunch of trees, particularly back left, have been removed. Go over this green and you're dead: there's a great big slope, and the green is going the other way. An easy par with a good tee shot, and a difficult par without one.

Lakeview 13 BeforeLakeview 13 After

Fourteen is a great little par three: a huge ravine left, a thicket of trees right, and a midiron to the 160-yard hole. It's got a big ridge that runs front to back on the left third, which either repels or steers shots depending on the pin position. If it's front left, you're better off leaving your ball in the collection area front right than risk going at the pin and instead going down the ravine. I've seen birdies and I've seen sixes here. Hell, I've made birdies and sixes here. This is also the hole on which I've seen a hole-in-one: Aaron the plumber's son holed a 6I (his Tommy Armour 845s) one day. I had a Coke.

Fifteen is one of those holes I've never played well. It sets up for a fade, but I played a draw through high school and had to come pretty close to the right tree line with my first shot. There's a good amount of room left, but your second shot is blocked by trees if you use up too much fairway. It's only 370 or so, so I typically hit a 2I for control and then follow it home with an 8I or something. The green is receptive and deceptive. Long and left are dead here: right ain't so great either.

Sixteen plays tough for a 290-yard hole. It's straight uphill: 250-yard drives go 200, and 300-yard drives don't have a chance to reach the green. I play it safe with a 2I to the middle and then have a go at it with a wedge. I perfected a low, skid-skid-check shot with my sand wedge specifically to play this hole, and judging distances is difficult. I've seen more birdies on this hole than any other on the course, though I've also seen far too many bogeys to label this one an easy hole.

Seventeen and eighteen are a great pair of finishing holes. The drive on the 520-yard par-five seventeenth should favor the left side of the fairway to open up the dogleg right. The fairway is tight and right is dead. Left often leaves you with a punch, but no reasonable chance to reach the green. It's still a long shot in, but the fairway kicks the ball right and downhill, so the play on the lay-up is left. The green is one of the smallest on the course and is a tough one to hit regardless of the club. It's also typically one of the worst greens on the course, though I hear they've removed some trees to get more light and air flow. It was on this hole that Brian once skulled a bunker shot and drilled Joe in the shoulder or back, just missing his head. Good times! 🙂

Eighteen is a great hole. It's fairly short: 344 yards, but has a large tree crowding the tee shot from the left. The fairway kicks down and right, requiring a draw from the tee. Play a nice draw with a 3W around the tree and you've got a short-iron in. The green is adequately sloped and has a steep bank long, as do many of the other holes on this course. I once chipped in for birdie here with a 7W I bought at KMart. Another time, in a high school match my sophomore year, I was playing as an eight-some due to slow play in the lead group. We couldn't see our balls, but all eight of us found them. I was in the middle of the fairway, 150 from the pin. I hit a soft 7I and remarked to Joe "It's close. Really close." He said "you can't tell that!" I said "I can." We couldn't see the ball until we got to within 20 feet of it on the green, but there it was: 18 inches from the cup.

I judge nearly every course I play by Lake View Country Club. It's astounding to think that I might be a member there very soon. I spent 16 hours/day there three summers in a row and averaged one or two rounds of golf/day. When I wasn't playing I was hitting balls, putting, chipping, or hanging around the clubhouse.

It was at Lake View that Seth got his nickname, "Dozer," for the large divots he'd take on every shot (including his driver). I snuck him on once or twice as a junior member (was $150, now $335 - still a steal!). I called Carey nearly every day I was there - not because I felt like bragging or anything, but because I was always there. I once ate 108 chicken wings on "chicken wing Tuesday" - all you could eat for $9.95. Last I heard, it was still the record. Wings were served in buckets of nine.

I could write forever about Lake View. Instead, I think I'll go to bed. It's 1am and I plan to play there tomorrow. It's supposed to be 50° and partly cloudy: you can't ask for better weather in mid-November here in Erie, PA!

One Response to "Lake View Country Club"

  1. Looks like a beautiful course. I need to start learning how to play golf...especially if I'm going to be dealing with clients a lot after college. Then again my Dad's in sales and he's done alright for himself without having to play 🙂