Hunters Pointe – On Point for Golf Value in the Niagara Area
It’s becoming routine; catch a round of golf in a community where I have extended business and this past May was no exception. A week in St. Catherines, Ontario allowed me some time to explore local golf options. Within 20 minutes, in Welland, Ontario, is Hunters Pointe. Trust your GPS; the course is set close to a new residential area. What is also becoming standard practice is seeking the first available tee time and playing as a single to get a quiet, relaxed experience and to help ensure the round can be completed in a reasonable length of time.
This is a very interesting layout and I would contend the course has done its best with the parcel of land afforded to it. It has holes that play links style in that fescue and wind are the major defenses and other holes where water is a large and visible hazard. It is a strong mix and makes for a good test of golf. The conditioning is very good in all important areas – tee boxes, bunkers, fairways and greens. The routing is relatively straightforward with an out-in routing, at least for the first nine. The oddity of the parcel of land north of Daimler Parkway, what I’ll call an annexed parcel of land, for a five-hole stretch to begin the back nine created, for me, a somewhat disjointed experience. I found four of the five holes disappointing. They were bland and lacked the character of the central part of the course. However, with some nice closing holes coming in, a player will need to be fully attentive to score well. Water, as the course is located close to the Welland Canal and also features small and large ponds throughout, in addition to the fescue, will capture wayward shots. The landing areas are fair however. I will admit that playing early in the 2014 season on a morning where there was little wind allowed me to play a more aggressive game. Fescue rough had been cut back to a point where I could play a couple shots from an area grounds crew stated would be a clear unplayable lie, assuming I’d find the ball.
The par 5’s were some of the stoutest I’d played all year. As I’m older now and a three-shot player, my drive, lay up and approaches all required attention with hazards ready to build on my scorecard. The greens rolled exceptionally well and were quick for the early season. While I am not a fan of larger, undulating greens I only had a couple holes where I was very grateful to hole out in two putts. The staff were very friendly and welcoming and the course offers excellent special rates on their website. I’d like to experience the course during the season to see it with its teeth; it would be a much sterner test. Overall, this is a good value complement to the superb quality of Grand Niagara and should be on the list of players looking to build their own Niagara Golf Trail route.
Aura – 6.5 out of 10 – I suspect if I lived closer to Welland this score would be higher. Its suburban location creates an underrated feel but make no mistake; this is a good test of golf. I would certainly come back and as such feel the course deserves a higher rating in this category.
Value (cost / experience) – 7 out of 10. I was able to play weekday for less than $50 using an online special rate. I declined the option of a power cart which my rate afforded me. Aside from the five annexed holes and the par 4, 4th hole with very odd fairway pot bunkering I felt the diversity of holes and the quality created good value.
Course Condition (fairways/greens, layout) – 7.5 out of 10 – I had no expectation and found myself complementing CPGA Professional Ben Scapillati who was working the pro shop along with the starter and the greens crew I saw hard at work that morning. The condition was very good. Greens rolled well and the fairways were fantastic. It was easy to see the staff has pride and a commitment to maintaining good quality. I did notice a fair number of ball marks so I wish the players there shared the staff commitment to the course conditioning.
Overall Experience (how did the round make me feel; would I return) – 7.5 out of 10 – I would like to play here in the height of the summer. My experience was positive and I plan to return again. This is a solid value play when able to take advantage of online specials. They do offer some very good membership options and for local residents it would be a course to be proud of and enjoy.
Highlight (what is great about the course) – Hunters Pointe has some of the best par 5’s I’ve played on one golf course. They are very demanding, visually appealing and well conditioned. The people at Hunters Pointe were all very helpful, polite and welcoming. Holes 9 and 18 are two great closing holes.
Recommendation (magic wand…what would I change) – I am not a designer; I lack vision for such work but appreciate good design when I experience it. Three of the five hole annex area to be are very underwhelming. I would consider an overhaul of these holes, 10-14, seeking to maintain greater continuity to the rest of the course.
Just So You Know – I had a great morning round. I broke 80 and it reflected the start of a great season for me. The staff are fantastic and helped to create the relaxed feel I was seeking. While this course will not make a Top 50 Canada list it has some very high quality golf holes. Holes 3, 5, 6 and 9 are very good golf holes (3 of those 4 are par 5’s). Hole 12 is the only one of the annexed holes I enjoyed and hole 18 is a great closing hole, another par 5, and very difficult. Bogey Man is right in ranking it most difficult closing hole. It typifies the test that is Hunters Pointe, avoid the water.