How impressive are the world-famous Niagara Falls? You'd have to empty one million bathtubs per second to approach their torrential force. On the Canadian side of this thundering cataract, a mere three miles upstream from the veil of mist, is a 700-acre golf complex built by the Niagara Parks Commission adjacent to a War of 1812 battleground. The Battle of Chippawa pitted American regulars against British troops in the last major invasion of Canada on July 5, 1814. The skirmish essentially ended in a draw, but Americans have returned in droves to do battle on the facility's two full-sized 18s.
|Routed around a manmade lake, holes 6 and 7 on Ussher's Creek call for thoughtful play. Clive Barber/Golfshots|
Opened last May, the Legends features the work of two of Canada's leading designers, Doug Carrick and Tom McBroom. Friendly competitors, the two Ontario-based architects flipped a coin to divide the property. Carrick landed the north parcel, a relatively flat stretch of lightly wooded farmland that nevertheless gives players a view of the Niagara River from the 13th green. What nature failed to provide, Carrick built at the Battlefield , a sturdy test with four sets of tees placed from 5,500 to 7,309 yards (par 72). He created movement in the fairways, scooped out swales around the greens, and inserted more than 110 flashed-face bunkers to signpost the holes. These bunkers are in your face at every turn, but most can be avoided by simply aiming around them. However, players who get weak in the knees at the sight of sand will perish on the Battlefield.
Ussher's Creek , McBroom's creation, is an entirely different golf course. Traditional in appearance (rectangular tees, grass-faced bunkers), this more wooded layout backs into the river lowlands, with Ussher's Creek, a tributary of the Niagara River, flanking or crossing more than half the holes. McBroom relies upon plateau greens, subtle doglegs, and the meandering creek to keep players honest. The back nine of this well-wrought design (5,421 to 7,180 yards, par 72) confronts players with the 14th, a brawny par five marked by a vast, fringed sand pit set below a grassy knoll in the center of the fairway, the forking paths offering an array of options.
In addition to Chippawa , a nine-holer co-designed by Carrick and McBroom, the Legends boasts a 360-degree "firing range;" a huge, moated practice green; and a teaching academy. The facility is located only 20 minutes from the Peace Bridge outside Buffalo, New York.
Green fee with cart is approximately $65 Monday to Thursday, $71.50 Friday to Sunday. Golf packages with area hotels are available. Details: 866-465-3642. Web site: www.niagaralegends.com.