The Bogey Golfer © Course Guides
Genesee Valley - Overview
The Genesee Valley North Course is a peaceful, old-fashioned course under the I-390 beltway on the Southwest side of Rochester. "Old-fashioned" means huge shady trees everywhere, fairways kind of side-by-side, back-and-forth, and smallish greens. Green fees were dirt cheap -- 18 holes on a Saturday with a pull cart was $17.75 (but they don't take credit cards).
The day I played, it was immediately after a day of hard rain (I saw two guys building an ark...) Consequently, the course was very wet, and played very long. There were ponds where there shouldn't have been ponds. Well-hit drives in the middle of the fairway (I get a few, but not that many) would usually splash and stop with no roll. Lots of Driver-3 Wood-Wedge combinations into the long par 4s on the back.
The clubhouse is a great big old rambling facility. I don't know what they do with the upper floors, but the pro-shop and snack bar were well equipped, and the staff was friendly and accommodating. The post-round hamburger was quite tasty. They keep Yuengling lager on tap (oldest brewery in the US, very popular in this part of the country).
I had a thoroughly enjoyable time. This is not a destination pilgrimmage-style course like BethPage or Pinehurst, but if you're in the area, stop in and play a round or two.
Genesee Valley North Course Detail
Since the back tees only play 6470 yards, I decided to play them. In retrospect, this was probably a mistake, owing to the combination of heavy air (which subtracts about 10% from your distance compared to playing in Colorado), and the muddy conditions. Afterwards, I felt like I'd played a 7000 yard course. All the greens are fairly small, and furthermore, they're all pretty level. Once you get on the green, there's no reason to ever make a three-putt. Well, except if you're really bad at judging speed...
The first hole is a 530 yard par 5, which I think is a great way to open a round. It doglegs left, with the river hard against the right-hand side. Those bushes on the right are growing out of the riverbank. If your ball lands in there, it's gone, OB. That's okay, because you'd rather play it up the left side anyway, right? The hole plays a little bit uphill, so realistically, this is a three-shot hole. Play a mid-iron to the middle to set up an easy approach shot.
Follow the cart path back from the first green, and across the road to the second teebox. This is a short par 4, playing only 303 yards. However, it's fiendishly designed with a giant tree guarding the right hand side to bar big-hitters from going for it. Take what the hole gives you -- knock an iron down the left side, and hit a wedge or short iron in stiff. There's an opportunity to score on this one.
The 3rd hole is also pretty benign, at only 331 yards. It has a dogleg right, with trees in the rough to keep you honest. There's also a giant burm protecting the right side of the green. But again, with a long iron or fairway wood off the tee, you've got a reasonable approach shot with a reasonable chance for birdie, or at least par.
Hole #4 starts to get a bit more interesting. It's a 200 yard par 3. There's no trouble to speak of, it's just longish.
Hole #5 is a 498 yard par 5. It's pretty straightforward - what you see is what you get. If you're sufficiently warmed up, and feel like giving it a ride off the tee, there's a possibility of getting home here in two. Even if you don't make it, this hole is still a scoring opportunity. Don't go long, because there's about a three-foot drop-off behind the green, which will require some touch if the pin is back.
Hole #6 is an even longer par 3 at 224 yards. This is a difficult distance for me. My advice is to hit it as far as you can straight, and then chip it on and try to one-putt. Bogey is not a bad score.
Hole #7 is 409 yard par 4. Since this is such a shady old course, the rough can get kind of deep, which is not good for a hole this long. Stay in the fairway, even if you have to hit a fairway wood or a long iron. If you have to play a long iron on your second shot, the green is receptive to running shot.
Hole #8 is more of the same at 410 yards. No trouble, no doglegs, just straight on. The green is up against the road, which you cross to get to #9.
Hole #9 is the third par 3 on the front (it's a par 35). This one also plays pretty long, at 228 yards. Same advice as before, hit it as far as you can straight, and try for the up-and-down.
The back nine plays longer than the front. (By the way, the layout on the website is backward). There are more 400+ yard par 4s, and only two par 3s. #10 is 423 yards, and puts you in the correct frame of mind. It's straight away. Hit it hard.
Hole #11 is a little shorter, at 348 yards, but it wraps around a line of trees on the right, to make things interesting. If you hit a 230 yard shot that just misses the trees on the right, you'll be set up well to come into the green from the middle of the fairway around the 150 yard marker. On your approach shot, mind the tree on the right up near the green.
Hole #12 is a pretty little par 3. At 172 yards, it's a bit easier than those monsters on the front. If you come up a little short, it's a pretty easy up-and-down.
Hole #13 is a par 5, and it's one of the few holes on the course where there's a significant difference between the blues and the whites. From the white tees, it's only 459 yards, but the blues stretch it out another 86 yards, to 545. They also angle into the fairway from the right over the trees and the rough, so they give a completely different look to the hole. Get to the fairway as quick as you can -- it's no fun trying to hack your way out of the rough with all those trees in the way (thus speaks the voice of experience...).
Hole #14 is a 419 yard par 4, straightaway. Again, hit it hard.
Hole #15 is a 512 yard par 5, straightaway. Since it's a par 5, you don't have to worry quite so much about distance, so go for accuracy. Accuracy is especially important on your approach. There's a low spot left of the green, with a burm beside it. If you get on the side of that burm, you'll have a nasty chip shot to the green. They keep the rough pretty deep around this green too.
Hole #16 is yet another 415-yard par 4, straightaway. This is the last one, so grip it, and rip it.
Hole #17 is a great hole. It's only 323 yards. But there's this tree... As you stand on the teebox, and pick out the ideal line to the green, you realize there's this huge leafy obstruction in your way. So then you have to move all the way to the very left side of the tee, and then if you can hit a bit of a fade, ... Or just hit a five iron up the left side.
The final hole is a 170 yard par 3. A little local knowledge goes a long way here. There's a bunker wrapped around the front right side of the green. I didn't realize it was there until I hung my six iron out to the right a little bit... It's a well-conceived obstruction, easy to avoid once you know it's there, but just waiting to gobble up a slightly wayward tee shot.