Course Name: Geneva Country Club
Designer: Unknown (1890)
Location: Geneva, New York
History: One of the oldest courses in upstate New York, the 9-hole Geneva Country Club was founded and laid out by members in 1890. Matt Jones holds the course record with a 60.
Conditions: 8/10, While a bit wet and slow from a recent rainstorm when I played, Geneva is in good condition with lush fairways and thick rough to go along with smooth greens.
Value: N/A, This is a private course.
Tee Par Yardage Rating Slope
Blue 36 3047 34.8 124
White 35 2874 34.7 128
Yellow 37 2781 36.4 125
Red 36 2590 35.5 121
Hole Descriptions: Geneva Country Club is a great example of a 9-hole hidden gem that nobody outside the region has heard of but all will enjoy with its golden age architecture. There’s no official architect, but quirky greens like the 2nd and 3rd demonstrate the course is indeed a relic of the past. While not long, the hilly terrain and overabundance of trees make it more challenging than you’d expect.
The opening hole plays downhill as a 344 yard par 4. This is a fairly straightforward hole, which is appreciated given the lack of a comprehensive range. Tall trees line both sides of the fairway and this green runs hard back-to-front with bunkers on either side.
The par 4 2nd hole plays longer than its stated distance at 348 yards uphill. This is an interesting dogleg left with a clump of trees jutting into the left fairway at 200 yards and trees down the right the entire way. While the golfer is given options here, the aggressive drive is preferable because lay-ups will be left a blind, often blocked shot to a tough green. A bunker guards just left of my favorite green at Geneva, a pseudo-Biarritz with a predominant back-to-front slope and giant ridge in the middle.
The 3rd hole is the shorter of two excellent par threes at Geneva. At 168 yards, this hole runs alongside Seneca Lake and features another excellent back-to-front sloped green with numerous undulations. A set of barrier bunkers guards just short of the green and makes for a fun walk through the narrow entrance.
If you’ve read my other blogs, you know that trees in the middle of the fairway are a big pet peeve and the 4th hole is an egregious example. This 398 yard par 4 runs straightaway downhill with tall trees on both sides and an even taller tree dead in the middle of the fairway at 220 yards. It’s a matter of sheer luck whether you hit the tree or not on a good drive. They probably keep the tree for character because there’s not much else to this hole with a large, bunkerless green otherwise.
At 423 yards, the 5th hole is the number 1 handicap playing straightaway uphill. While trees line both sides of this fairway, it’s certainly more generous than previous holes. This approach plays at least one club uphill to a wonderful left-to-right sloped green guarded by a false front and five bunkers surrounding the back.
The 488 yard par 5 6th hole is the longest hole at Geneva and certainly an interesting one. At some point since its founding, the Town’s water treatment unit was built just left of the teebox and the current drive forces you to carry this property. This awkward drive is further confounded by a creek that darts across this dogleg left fairway about 230 yards from the teebox. Huge drives can carry all the danger, but this line may not be possible without a severe draw. This narrow green is reachable in two with trees down the right and bunkers left.
Geneva features an interesting scorecard that allows the 7th hole to play as either a par 4 or 5. We played it as a 356 yard par 4 and the par 5 plays 476 yards. As a two-shotter, this dogleg left contains a tough teeshot to a fairway that narrows and turns left at 200 yards. Aggressive golfers can attempt to carry a tree on the left, but the fairway is so narrow on the other side I’m not sure it’s worth it. A nice lay-up leaves a short iron approach into an elevated and undulating green guarded by bunkers short left.
For some reason, my host said he always has a terrible time on the par 3 8th, but I enjoyed the hole. At 178 yards, this one-shotter plays slightly downhill to a severely back-to-front sloped green with an additional left-to-right tilt. Bunkers long and right and a creek running down the right frame this hole gorgeously.
The 341 yard closing hole runs back uphill towards the clubhouse as a straightaway open par 4. This hole plays longer than the stated yardage and features what has to be the smallest and trickiest green on the course guarded by a bunker right. Those who misclub long will lose their ball down a steep embankment.
General Comments: The clubhouse offers the best view on the property, overlooking Seneca Lake as a perfect wedding venue. For practice facilities, Geneva has a small practice green and short range to practice wedges. Pace of play was very strong.
Verdict: Although Geneva Country Club could benefit from greens expansion and tree removal, this quirky 9-holer provides strong conditioning and a fun layout golfers of all levels will enjoy.