Transit Valley Country Club Review
Transit Valley was built in 1921, in the midst of what many call the Golden Age of golf course architecture. At the time, building a course in East Amherst was truly considered to be in the country. The layout is bordered by Transit and Paradise roads on the east and west, and Muegel and Halston on the north-south. The course has many enviable features, including subtle but apparent bunkering, a certain pitch and roll to many of the fairways, and undulating greens that need a second and third read.
Holes 1-3: 390, 352 & 517
The course begins with two par fours and a par five. The opening hole is a unique one, demanding a drive to the crest of a ridge, followed by a downhill approach to a green that sits in a valley, yet is elevated above the entry fairway. Hole number two is a shorter par four, yet presents more challenge off the tee. Driver is never the club, as a pond calls on the left and trees beckon on the right. The safe play is a 225-yard shot from the tee, leaving a short iron in to another elevated (and well-bunkered) green. The third hole is a medium-length par five. Descending from an elevated tee the hole ultimately rises to another elevated and well-bunkered green. With today’s technology, the hole can be reached in two by the better player, yet presents trouble for those who miss left or right.
Holes 4-6: 159, 319 & 500
The fourth hole is the first par 3 on the course. A complete ring of sand surrounds the elevated green but the challenging target is wide enough that a slight push or pull from the center will still find the sloped putting surface. The fifth hole is the first true short par four on the course. There is a bit of an opening in the front for a bump and run although it is not the appropriate play. The defense of the green is its depth; many shots that seem to approach just fine, catch a bit of spin and suck back, leaving a longish first putt. The sixth hole is the second par 5 and the first one that plays uphill entirely from tee to green. After the tee shot the bunkering comes into view in the landing zones for the second and third shots. The green is set on a shelf at upper left, so the ideal approach comes in from lower right because of the severe left to right slope.
Holes 7-9: 408, 404 & 221
The closing stretch on the outward nine presents three disparate holes. The par-four seventh heads back to the west and can play quite long from the back tee and prevailing wind. Yet another green with a bisecting ridge makes this a challenge to putt. The penultimate front-side hole is an uphill par four blessed with a wide fairway, topped off by a punchbowl green at the end. The green sits in a natural amphitheater and shots that miss their mark long or left have a chance to rebound onto the putting surface. The ninth hole is a lengthy par 3 playing easily to a 3.5 average. Unique mounding traps mishit shots that land in the 160-185 yard range. The green is mild, in comparison with predecessors, as the green of a 225-yard par three should be!
Holes 10-12: 563, 408 & 211
Transit Valley presents two of its most demanding holes consecutively. To begin the back nine is the longest par five. Despite the downhill tee ball, the hole reclaims its yardage with an uphill approach. The key to the hole (presuming an adequate drive) is the second shot. The pond from hole #2 awaits on the right, while trees obscure the left side. Big curves are abundant on the sloped 10th green. The 11th features the tightest, most demanding drive on the course. The green is hidden behind front left bunkers. Twelve might be the most unique hole on the course. It’s again a long par three, over 200 yards, demanding an accurate hybrid or long iron to a green with multiple levels.
Holes 13-15: 386, 422 & 300
The thirteenth hole appears to be taylor-made for a right-to-left tee shot. Trees are abundant up the left but long hitters can cut the corner on this medium length par 4. Once the fairway is found, a straightforward second is presented towards a fairly narrow green target. Fourteen has a hidden water hazard on the left of the fairway at about 230 yards. A drive up the right side avoids it. The 14th green is well protected again, yet allows for a runner, something of a consolation for those with long irons in their hands for the approach. Fifteen begins a three-hole stretch where strokes may be recovered. Barely 300 yards, the green sits on a plateau, above a massive front bunker. Trees line the fairway on both sides, making accuracy important. The front bunker is not nearly as menacing as it is large, so a drive that reaches it, has a decent chance at an up-and-down for birdie. The green is a punchbowl design, allowing balls played too high to bound back down to the putting surface.
Holes 16-18: 312, 176 & 413
The closing stretch begins with another short and driveable par four. Unlike its predecessor, whose protective bunker is a semi-penal cross bunker, 16 reveals a semi-cross bunker on the left, giving the illusion that deep and right is the place to be. A greenside bunker protects that half of the putting surface, so the ultimate play is a 200 yard shot out to the right, leaving a full wedge into the green. The putting surface is fairly large for a short hole, so proper club selection is imperative. Seventeen is a mid-length par three with bunkering on both sides. The green is not benign, but is certainly not nearly as much of a riddle as many that came before. The closing hole is the epitome of a parkland hole. Ample room up the left for tee shot and you are home. The green is quite large and deep, so don’t be short with your approach, or a fairly-certain three-putt awaits.