Room for links along Route 5

Back when Joel Giambra was in office, he mentioned that the former Bethlehem Steel site and the Outer Harbor could serve as a grand links-style golf course. If only that could be the case.

Clearly there is enough space for a golf course, but plenty of work needed on the former Bethlehem Steel site.

The Bethlehem Steel property sits along a massive stretch of waterfront land along Route 5 and has been sitting fallow for a number of years. A bit of green development has recently dotted the property, as the Steel Winds wind farm has sprouted 13 wind turbines along the property. Its not exactly brownfield remediation, but it is better than the few pieces of the blast furnaces and coke ovens that still stand.

Just like almost everything else in Buffalo and Western New York, the golf community is in somewhat of a vacuum. There are few premier courses in the area, with the handful that do exist charging a truly premium rate in greens fees. The rest of the courses in Western New York range anywhere from average to terrible with greens fees typically heading in the opposite direction.

Buffalo, by no means, is a haven that golfers from across the nation flock to. There are some gems to play, however. Glen Oak is probably the most impressive course of the bunch as a Robert Trent Jones design. In a few more years, Seneca Hickory Stick (Robert Trent Jones Jr. design) will be equal to the task. Ivy Ridge is a phenomenal track and even Diamond Hawk and Harvest Hill fall into the premium category for courses in the area.

All of the best courses, however, are located in outer suburbs. In fact, some of the best golf within 30 minutes of Buffalo is played in Canada (Thundering Waters, Legends on the Niagara). Diamond Hawk is the closest premium course to the city of Buffalo and that is located across the street from the airport.

Not only does the Bethlehem Steel site provide the necessary land for a golf course, it has a great location. The course is minutes from downtown and would provide vistas that would rival another links course that resides along the shores of a Great Lake, Whistling Straits. Maybe the opposite side of Route 5 isn’t exactly picturesque, but the drive leading up to where the old Bethlehem Steel administration building sits is rather scenic. Continue reading