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Erie Golf Course

The North East High School golf team ventured to Erie Golf Course yesterday to play a match against Central. They lost, but that's not what I care to talk about here.

Erie Golf Course is a whopping 1.5 miles from my house, and 1 mile of that is the windy road you take to get to it. Erie Golf Course has a tiny putting green and no driving range, making it far from an effective practice course for me. I last played Erie over a decade ago in an EDGA event held the Monday Ernie Els defeated Colin Montgomerie and Loren Roberts in a U.S. Open playoff (1994). I remember that the course was a crapshoot built on hills and that some of the fairways were tilted 30° or so.

Erie Golf Course has seen a "major renovation" this year and the word on the street was that the course was "in great shape." I was told by several that "it'll be really nice" now. As one of Erie's three municipal courses (Downing and J.C. Martin being the others), I was looking forward to having a decent course so close. Well, it simply ain't to be: Erie Golf Course is still a dog track.

Sure, the irrigation system they put in place has helped - the grass was green and the greens looked healthy. They've rebuilt the second (now a long, downhill par 5), the third (a short, tight par 4), and the fourth (an attractive par 3 over a miniature gorge). The 10th through 12th holes - across the road - have been replaced with two holes. These holes are all very nicely designed, and offer both beautiful scenery and an adequate test of golf.

The problem lies with the existing holes, and the ground upon which they sit. The eighth hole, for example - a dogleg right par 4 that features a fairway that slopes at least 30° to the inside corner, repelling all balls not played 50 yards left of the center of the fairway. The current ninth features such a deep gorge and a tiny green that most golfers aren't sure whether they're playing the 9th or the 16th. The current third green hole is as much an afterthought as ever, tucked beside the 4th tee and beyond the corner of the 5th fairway. The slopes and elevation changes around these holes are so ridiculous that even with an irrigation system, most of the holes won't hold water. It'll just run down the slope.

Granted, the only way to make Erie an acceptable golf course would be to truck in and move a few billion tons of dirt (I exaggerate, but not by much). As such, I'm simply not sure why Erie has spent any money on the course at all. If I could pay to play a few holes on the new course (1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 11) I'd be fine. Unfortunately, any round at Erie is going to include several of the existing holes, and they just aren't worth the price of admission, at any cost. Yeah, I'm a bit of a golf snob, but I do think Downing is a great course for its price. Is there any coincidence that it's the only muni in Erie that makes money?

Oh, and one last thing: put in some yardages. White 150-yard posts (some of which are off by as much as 12 yards) don't cut it.