Naturally, New York

The Whiteface Club & Resort
The Whiteface Club & Resort

The New York Golf Trail Brings New Attention to Empire State Golf 

Living in Ontario as I do, I recognize that we are blessed with a wealth of golf course.  I strove to play more of them every year but occasionally I’ve been known to drift in my loyalty.  I mean, I love chocolate cake but occasionally might like a slice of another flavor, right?

To do that, along with golf buddies, I’ve been known to sip just south of the Canadian border to New York State.  Often this has been an early Spring trip when the weather allows an earlier start to the season but over the years the appeal of the Empire State and its golf course has drawn me to make more frequent trips in the Summer and Fall.

Just like me many golfers have found favored places to play golf in New York but too often they forays into the state are of the singular variety. In our focus to get to the destination we often ignore that there is much more being offered.  Recognizing this as well was Rod Christian who began to organize the New York Golf Trail several years ago in a big to maximize the potential of so many great golf properties within the state.

New York City may be the beacon for most tourists but golf-mind travelers are discovering that if they hit the roads around the state they’ll find more than a few places where they can while their days away on fairways. The NY Golf Trail has grown quickly in prominence and now showcases all parts of the state.

“We cover six regions of the state, so anywhere from the finger lakes west to Saratoga east straight across the thruway then all the way from Lake Placid North to Hudson Valley south down by New York city,” Christian described during a recent discussion.

Across that geography there are now an ample selection of courses and resorts to meet the needs of any golfer.

Christian shares that, indeed, the golf properties involved cover quite a cross-section.  “Certainly we have doo diversity among them,” he says.  “We have a lot of modern courses built in the last ten to twenty years but a lot of old, traditional courses like Whiteface Club & Resort, Saranac – over 100 years old so it’s really a wide range. In terms of playability, again a wide range. Some that are tighter with more tree-lined fairways while others have are open so really we have something for everybody.”

In my own ventures along the trail I’ve always been surprised at the quality of the New York layouts.  It seems the residents not only had an affinity for golf here early on, they also settled for nothing less than superior courses.

Take the Bristol Harbor Resort for example. Overlooking Canandaigua Lake in the core of the Finger Lakes Region, this scenic Robert Trent Jones design blew me away with a back nine that tumbled up and down with each shot framed well by the natural surroundings.  6,700 yards of rising and falling fairways left myself and my golf partner confounded as to why we had not played there sooner.  Now more than 40 years old, it is a great example of the underappreciated level of golf designs in New York.

And Bristol Harbor is just one of 22 properties now part of the New York Golf Trail.  The list is impressive and includes: The Whiteface Club & Resort (Lake Placid), Saranac Inn Golf & Country Club (Saranac Lake). Malone Golf Club (Malone), Saratoga Spa Championship Course (Saratoga Springs), Saratoga Lake Golf Club (Saratoga Springs), Saratoga National Golf Club (Saratoga), The Sagamore (Bolton Landing), Timber Banks Golf Course (Baldwinsville), Foxfire Golf Club (Baldwinsville), The Pompey Club (Pompey), Leatherstocking Golf Club (Cooperstown), Colgate University’s Seven Oaks Golf Club (Hamilton), Bristol Harbour Resort (Canandaigua),Ravenwood Golf Club (Victor), Mill Creek Golf Club (Churchville), Greystone Golf Club (Walworth), Wayne Hills Country Club (Lyons), Mendon Golf Club (Mendon), Golf Club at Mansion Ridge (Monroe), Casperkill Golf Club (Poughkeepsie) and The Links at Union Vale (LaGrangeville).

Of course these golf course are not just stand-alone properties that popped up in recent years.   There are modern designs like those at Timber Banks (a Nicklaus design near Syracuse) or Ravenwood near Rochester but also much more stately, historic spots like The Sagamore on Lake George or famed Saranac Inn & Country Club designed by Seymour and Willie Dunn, Jr. near Lake Placid.

Although the cooperative effort of the New York Trail does much to promote this alliance of golf destinations they are bonded by much more than that.  The trail cooperative provides a one-stop method for golf travelers to design the vacation they are looking for through a single contact and always ensuring the best rates.

Part of the focus for the group are Stay and Play packages, which they are happy to arrange. “I think golf trails in general are a neat idea for traveling golfers.  Staying in town and being able to play multiple courses and then enjoying the town that night is attractive,” says Christian. He adds that the accommodation partners for the golf courses are far from an afterthought in the process.  ” We really try to place our hotels so that they are in walking distance or in places like Saratoga, Cooperstown, or Lake Placid so you get that chance to enjoy the local flavour.”

And that “flavour” represents all that is great about New York State.  In the Finger Lakes there are wineries to explore, at Saratoga a trip to the horse track is a must, and in Lake Placid all summer long you can enjoy Olympic themed activities in a village that hosted the world twice for the games. And don’t forget Cooperstown where the Leatherstocking Golf Club shares billing with the National Baseball Hal of Fame and Museum..

Whatever your needs be the team at the New York Golf Trail is willing to go the extra mile.  “We set up everything for groups ranging from boat trips on the lake, dinner cruises, or winery tours – whatever they want for their golf vacation.”

Golfers can simply head to the website and then choose their trip from there. Christian says that they’ll receive a customized quote within 24 hours.  He relates that most people will say a minimum of two nights and play three rounds and many of those packages run under $300 per person.

It all adds to a golf destination that is showing new levels of potential.  Despite a long heritage of golf excellence the formation of a formal golf trail is bringing new attention to some of New York’s best golf retreats.  “It really hasn’t been on the radar at all which is why I started it,” conveys Rod Christian.  “Nobody had really marketed New York golf in a comprehensive way before which speaks to hidden gems I guess.  They are so many great golf courses, all we are doing is marketing them for travelers.”

Proudly, and fittingly he concludes…”in other places they had to build golf courses to create a trail, we already had them.”

Fast Facts

New York Golf Trail

18 Cardogan Square

Rochester, NY 14625

(800) 614-7450

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