The rolling hills and beautiful views of Central New York make the region a top-notch golfing destination packed with PGA-caliber courses.
From the En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, home of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open PGA Tour Champions event, to the PGA friendly greens of Turning Stone Resort Casino near Utica, golfers love to play where the pros do.
Central New York has 60-plus places to tee up, including highly-rated links by the likes of Golf Digest, Golfweek and Golf Magazine. There are several historic settings among them, including courses designed by legendary architects and played by some of the greats of the game.
Amsterdam’s ‘Muni’ Golf Course
Christened by golf legends Gene Sarazen and Tom Creavy in 1938, Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course was one of Robert Trent Jones’ first designs. The World Golf Hall of Famer, also known as the “Open Doctor,” went on to build hundreds of courses across the country – including Augusta National Golf Course – and around the world.
Built in part with U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Depression-era Works Progress Administration funds, “Amsterdam Muni” remains maintained by the city, open to the public and a must-visit for any fan of Robert Trent Jones’ signature challenges.
Hamilton’s Seven Oaks Golf Club
Both three-time PGA Champion Sarazen and Jones also had a hand in Colgate University’s Seven Oaks Golf Club with roots reaching back to the 1910s. A close friend of the college athletic director, Sarazen envisioned the “Augusta of the North.” Jones began drawing up plans, which stalled during World War II.
He would revisit the college several times following the war, drafting 13 designs in total. Completed in 1965, “Jones’ Gem in the North Chittenango Valley” has hosted numerous regional and national collegiate tournaments.
It’s received additional recognition from Golfweek and Golf magazines, which named it as one of the best public courses in New York state.
Cooperstown’s Leatherstocking Golf Course
Numerous pros have played the century-old Leatherstocking Golf Course in Cooperstown, but those golfers made their names in a different type of major.
The picturesque course has attracted many baseball Hall of Famers looking to unwind among the serene surroundings of Otsego Lake. The famous water body dubbed “Glimmerglass” in renowned American author James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales has provided the backdrop for this historic course for some 107 years.
Tied to the luxurious Otesaga Resort Hotel for its entire lifespan, Leatherstocking Golf Course has invited the likes of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle over the years. There have been many, many more who’ve walked the grounds by way of the annual Cooperstown Golf Classic Tournament.
Resident golf pro Dan Spooner has fond memories of his own son playing with legends like Joe Morgan and Tom Seaver as a kid. But, the high-profile clientele isn’t the only thing that makes the course special.
Designer Devereux Emmet tended to be overshadowed by the likes of Robert Trent Jones and Donald Ross in his time. He eventually became best known for legendary New York links at Bethpage, Schuyler Meadows and McGregor, but in 1909, he built a real gem in Cooperstown.
“I classify it as a very, very good golf course built on a perfect piece of land,” says Spooner, who took over as Leatherstocking pro in 1997. “What people tell me is that they never get tired of playing this course.”
Otsego Lake is always in view from all of the challenging fairways, but in no place greater than the 17th and 18th tee boxes.
It’s been rated 4.5 of 5 by Golf Digest and was ranked No. 3 in New York by Golfweek magazine. Zagat named it the No. 2 public course in the state in 2015.
It’s a mix fascinating history, modern recognition and beautiful views that make the golf courses of Central New York prime sites for memorable rounds. Golfers travel from throughout the Northeast and Atlantic U.S. as well as southeastern Canada to enjoy a day of challenges and rewards on these legendary links.