Golfer’s Diary Course Spotlight: Sugar Hill Golf Course
What’s the most unique golf course you’ve ever played?
If I had to choose mine, I’d probably pick Sugar Hill Golf Course in Westfield.
Sugar Hill opened way back in 1963 as a par 3 course and stayed that way for nearly 30 years. In 1990, the course was shut down and underwent major changes. When it opened back up in 1993, Sugar Hill was the configuration that we still know it as today, including the new pond, irrigation and greens.
Since January 2007, Sugar Hill has been owned by the husband and wife team of Greg and Patti DiPaolo.
“People still refer to it as a par 3,” Patti said with a laugh. “When we took over we came in and put a lot of money into the course but also the inside, which needed a lot of work.”
The layout of the course is most unique. First off, it’s the only course in New York with play right along the shores of Lake Erie. Sure, there are courses at which you can see the lake from afar, but at Sugar Hill, you can actually slice a ball in the lake (not that I have first-hand experience with that). Another aspect of Sugar Hill that sets it apart is the extreme dog legs on both No. 1 and No. 9. No. 1 is a par 5 that most people will tee off with about a 7-iron before making a hard left and heading up the long fairway towards the green.
The pond that comes into play on both No. 2 and No. 6 is also part of Sugar Hill that will stick in your head after playing the course. On No. 2, it’s a blind tee shot up to the ridge of the pond. Do you try to drive over it or play it safe with a layup? No. 6 is a little clearer as you can see all the way down the fairway, including the pond, to the green. It’s one of the best views on the course.
The signature hole, however, is probably No. 4. You tee off with the lake to your back down a fairway full of rolling hills.
“Everyone likes No. 4,” Patti noted. “You can see it’s a long way down and there are hills on the fairway. You have the woods to the right. That’s the one I get a lot of feedback from.”
Greg and Patti are their own grounds crew. Greg repairs everything himself — from the golf carts to the electrical in the clubhouse. They’ve learned all about caring for greens, the different chemicals and even how to use the mowers.
“I grew up in the city,” Patti explained. “The first time he put me on a zero turn mower, he’s watching me and I’m experimenting with it. I didn’t have the blades engaged and I ran right into the pole out front. Now I love it.”
Common knowledge states that owning a family-run business means long hours and problems that you never knew could exist. But Greg and Patti are also quick to point out that it’s been a rewarding experience, too.
“Honestly, the most rewarding part has probably been being able to work together,” Patti said. “We just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. Our daughter Paige helps out a lot. We’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with her here. And we’ve gotten to meet some really nice people. We’ve made some great friends.”
The first year I golfed, I played Sugar Hill more than any other course. Greg, Patti and Paige were so good to me and really helped foster my love of the sport. It’s a great place to learn the game, but there’s no denying the challenge it can present to even the best golfers.
“People who play here a lot say it’s challenging,” Patti elaborated. “When we first bought it, we brought my nephew, who is PGA certified. He said you have to think it as much as play it. You really have to think about what club you’re going to use. It’s not always about just hitting it the furthest. That’s why it’s a great place to learn to golf.
“A lot of people who are new to golf or want to bring their kids, they love coming here because no one is pushing them,” she continued. “You can take your time. They don’t feel like they’re in anyone’s way. It’s nice for that kind of golfer, too.”
This year, Sugar Hill is going to offer an option to players who might only want to golf a few holes. Want to play a quick three holes on your lunch break? This will be the place to go.
“We don’t apologize for the fact that we’re not Pebble Beach,” Patti concluded. “We do our best to make it an enjoyable round of golf. People tell us that they’ve had a good time and that’s what we want.”
Patti keeps the Sugar Hill Facebook page up-to-date with information about the course, but also consistently shares funny golf memes and videos. Be sure to follow Sugar Hill Golf Course on Lake Erie for those updates.
And as always, golf is great. Go get some.
Stefan Gestwicki is an OBSERVER contributing writer. Comments on this article can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.