Category: New York

July 08, 2013

Cooperstown, New York: Baseball, golf and beer make for a hall-of-fame weekend

Posted at 5:37 PM by Mike Walker

Leather17_v2History has not been kind to James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851), author of The Last of the Mohicans and member of the founding family of Cooperstown, N.Y. He gets roasted in Mark Twain’s essay “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offences.” But even if there were a Twainsville or Clemenstown, those towns would fall short of the quaint rural charms of Cooperstown, with its red brick shops and white church steeples along Main Street and, of course, the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Sports fan don't need more reasons to visit Cooperstown than the Hall of Fame. Wherever baseball was first played -- Hoboken, N.J., is the most likely candidate -- the living heart of the game is the Hall of Fame Gallery where simple plaques tell the stories of Ruth, Williams and Mays with terse descriptions of their achievements ("Hit safely in 57 consecutive games," "Hit .406 in 1941"). “The history of baseball has the quality of myth,” wrote The Natural author Bernard Malamud, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame is America's only sports Valhalla (sorry, Canton and St. Augustine). However, Cooperstown has plenty of other diversions, especially if you play golf.

The Leatherstocking Golf Course (6,416 yards, par 72, Greens fee: $99, website), named after Fenimore Cooper's most famous hero, is one of the gems of public-access golf in the Northeast. The 1909 Devereux Emmet design winds through the hilly Upstate New York countryside along Lake Otesaga. Though short by today's standards, Leatherstocking's narrow fairways and those wily Emmet greens are more than an adequate defense. The real fun is found in the final three holes. The long downhill par-4 16th plays into a narrowing fairway with water on both sides; No. 17 is a short par-3 over water [photo, above right]; and No. 18 is a standout finishing hole, a par-5 which starts from an island tee box and finishes in front of the stately Otesaga Hotel. Note: You won't be able to play Leatherstocking during Hall of Fame induction weekend because the course is open only to Hall of Famers. Don't feel too bad. Pete Rose can't play it then either.

(On a personal note, I ran into Jim Rice at Leatherstocking. Fortunately, I was wearing a Red Sox hat. I told him him he was one of my favorite players and congratulated him on his 2009 induction to the Hall. He asked to try one of my wedges, which he hit smoothly onto the green. When I told I lived in New York City, he gave me a sideways look. "New York? I've got to go!" he said and drove off in his cart.)

Jimrice_250Where to Stay: The Otesaga Hotel ( is Cooperstown's second most famous landmark. Just a short walk from town and the Hall, the Otesaga lets you step back in time to a more graceful age without sacrificing modern amenities. Cooperstown is also home to many quaint bed-and-breakfast inns. For a complete list, contact the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce (

Where to Eat: The Otesaga offers a five-course meal complete with music and candlelight in its main dining room (jackets required, guys). You can get burgers and lighter fare at the Otesaga's Hawkeye Bar and Grill. In town, you'll find a handful of decent dining options. The best is the contemporary American fare at Alex and Ika Restaurant (, which Frommer's named one of the top 10 restaurants in New York state.

What to Do: The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Leatherstocking Golf Course are the primary attractions, but Cooperstown also has the Glimmerglass Opera (a renowned opera company performing in July and August, and the Fenimore Art Museum ( Beer drinkers shouldn't miss the Ommegang Brewery (, the best Belgian ale you'll find west of Brussels. Save room in the trunk for a case to take home.


May 11, 2013

Your scorecard might take a licking at Pete Dye's Pound Ridge, but now your wallet doesn't have to

Posted at 9:21 PM by Joe Passov

When Pound Ridge Golf Club opened in 2008, players gasped at its difficulty (146 slope) and pre-recession price.

Still, many in New York City's public-golf-starved suburbs paid the flat $235 fee for the memorable test, eye-catching aesthetics and Tour-caliber conditions (narrow fairways; small, contoured greens).

Today, fees are hardly cut-rate, but various price points and stay-and-play hotel packages let more people enjoy this wild ride for as little as $100 per round.

Pete Dye and his son Perry crafted the layout from the remnants of a nine-holer on a site studded with rocks, wetlands and mature trees. The result is stunning — and punishing.

You may lose a sleeve (or two) of balls from the 6,279-yard middle tees (140 slope), but you'll play unforgettable holes, like the 480-yard, par-5 13th, which demands a semi-blind drive over "Pete's Rock," and the 174-yard, par-3 15th, its slender green sandwiched by wetlands and rock outcroppings.

Don't fret if invites to nearby private treasures Winged Foot and Quaker Ridge never come your way. Public Pound Ridge is every bit as challenging.

Pound Ridge Golf Club
Pound Ridge, N.Y.
7,165 yards, par 72
Green fees: $100-$235

(Photo: Jim Krajicek)

July 26, 2011

Take it from Joe: Play the PGA Championship Here!

Posted at 2:14 PM by Joe Passov

Sebonack Golf Club, Southampton, N.Y. Photo: Larry Lambrecht.

Atlanta Athletic Club, site of the 2011 PGA Championship, is a strong test of golf, but does anybody really enjoy the PGA's choices of rough-choked layouts in hot August temperatures? Here are my 10 picks — some realistic, some fantasy — for where I'd like to see the PGA played next.

1. Los Angeles Country Club (North)
Los Angeles, Calif.

This famously exclusive club that abuts Hugh Hefner's mansion will finally open its doors to the outside world when it hosts the 2017 Walker Cup, the better to show off its stunning 2010 Gil Hanse restoration. Tree removal has opened up long-hidden vistas, bunkers now resemble their 1920s George Thomas originals, and a succession of meaty par-4s would test even the best.

2. Trump National Bedminster (Old)
Bedminster, N.J.

Tom Fazio designed this modern masterpiece in 2004, not far from USGA headquarters. Together with its younger sibling the New, the course would make a worthy challenge for the pros, with plenty of gallery space as well. Say what you want about its owner—and this course—but the publicity build-up would be off the charts.

3. Sebonack Golf Club
Southampton, N.Y.

The PGA enjoys going to new places from time to time, so why not Sebonack, the 2006 Jack Nicklaus/Tom Doak collaboration right next to the National Golf Links of America and overlooking Peconic Bay? The U.S. Women's Open visits here in 2013, but I wouldn't mind spending part of my August in the Hamptons, watching the Bubbas and Rorys battle the breezes.

4. Sand Ridge Golf Club
Chardon, Ohio

One of the more tranquil golf experiences I've enjoyed took place at this private 1998 Tom Fazio creation built for the folks at Best Sand, whose adjacent quarry supplies bunker sand to many other courses. I'll admit that August in suburban Cleveland can be toasty, but the city's rabid sports fans would turn out in droves—and hey, Cleveland could use a break.

5. Spyglass Hill
Pebble Beach, Calif.

Every year at the AT&T, Spyglass is dumbed down to get amateurs around in under seven hours. I'd love to see the pros cope with this course set up in full fury. Plus, August on the Monterey Peninsula is pleasant duty indeed.

6. Muirfield Village
Dublin, Ohio

Sure, this course already enjoys tons of exposure from Jack's annual PGA Tour shindig. But it would be nice to see the PGA show a little additional love by tossing a bone to the five-time winner of its premier championship, whose hometown course is easily deserving of a Major.

7. Pine Valley Golf Club
Pine Valley, N.J.

One of my fantasy picks hosted the 1985 Walker Cup and is home to the annual Crump Cup, an invitational event that no top amateur turns down. Alas, Pine Valley has too much sand and scrub to allow for efficient gallery flow, but wouldn't it be awesome to see the game's best tackle the best course in the game?

8. Pronghorn (Nicklaus)
Bend, Ore.

Formerly a private real estate development spread, Pronghorn now offers limited public play, although few will take on the 7,379-yard tips, with a 75.2 rating and 151 slope. I'd relish watching the pros try it, especially amid Bend's dry, perfect August climate, at 3,200 feet in the shadows of Mt. Bachelor.

9. Nantucket Golf Club
Siasconset, Mass.

This exclusive, low-profile Rees Jones design ripples with moguls and is long enough when the wind blows to challenge the play-for-pay crowd. And any excuse to spend a portion of August on the island of Nantucket justifies its inclusion on this list.

10. Crystal Downs
Frankfort, Mich.

Perched upon a bluff between Lake Michigan and Crystal Lake, this Alister MacKenzie/Perry Maxwell collaboration is a bit too remote and lacks sufficient length to bother today's stars, but toss in gusts off the lake, dense native roughs and enough classic holes to fill a design textbook, and it would provide a memorable PGA site regardless of scores.

Empire Swing: Shenendoah at Turning Stone Resort

Posted at 10:52 AM by Joe Passov

The par-4 3rd hole at Shenendoah. Photo: Larry Lambrecht.

Shenendoah at Turning Stone Resort
Verona, N.Y.
7,129 yards, par 72
Green fees: $95-$150

Lacrosse has long been the game of the Oneida Indian Nation in upstate New York. But golf has become its calling card over the past decade in the form of Turning Stone Resort, with three 18-hole layouts on Tribal land four and a half hours north of New York City. The original Shenendoah layout, ranked second in the state on Golf Magazine's Best Courses You Can Play, stands out among brethren Atunyote (Tom Fazio) and Kaluhyat (Robert Trent Jones Jr.).

This Rick Smith design, named for a legendary Tribal chief and opened in 2000, remains the most interesting of the trio thanks largely to memorable mid-length par 4s like the 398-yard 7th, where a lake down the left pressures both drives and approaches. Overall it's a less bruising round than both nearby Atunyote, venue for a PGA Tour event from 2007-2010, and the adjacent Kaluhyat course. The rest of the facility, complete with a casino, multiple hotels and the AAA Four-Diamond Wildflowers restaurant, earned a Silver Medal in Golf Magazine's 2010 Premier Resort rankings.

Another draw is the resort's "Be Our Next Champion" package (starting at $500 per person): two nights' accommodations, one round on all three courses and unlimited same-day replays on Shenendoah. You can also now toast success on the course or at the tables: the liquor license granted last year means alcohol is now available at all guest areas. Forget the cooler and just bring the sticks.

May 14, 2011

Course Spy: Atunyote at Turning Stone

Posted at 2:49 PM by Joe Passov

Turning Atunyote at Turning Stone
Verona, New York
7,315 yards, par 72
Green fees: $200-$225

Forget "Country Club for a Day"—it's more your own personal course. Start with a gate that opens only for those with a tee time. With perhaps more staff than players, the service was top-notch, all that you would expect from an exclusive private club, not a public course.

Pace of Play
At 8:30 a.m. on a late May holiday, our spy was the second player on the course. Another teed off 45 minutes earlier; next up was a twosome an hour later. It was like having a private course. Except for dealing with some hazards, it ranks among the fastest rounds we've played.

While the design of its sister course, Shenendoah, is more interesting, this is a solid Tom Fazio layout, with a strong risk/reward finish. It's also as well-conditioned as any course we've ever played, public or private. The greens were PGA Tour-ready in late May—just perfect.

It is considerably pricier than any upstate New York courses, including the other Turning Stone tracks. But how often do you play a practically empty PGA Tour course like you owned it, complete with a Tour-level practice area and clubhouse? This is costly, but not a rip-off at all.

Turning Stone is a terrific golf resort in an unlikely spot (the central New York snowbelt) and Atunyote is its star. Most won't pay these prices more than once a season, but it's worth the splurge on special occasions, if for no other reason than to see how the casino whales live for a day.

August 25, 2010

Ask Travelin’ Joe: San Jose, Coeur d’Alene and New York

Posted at 4:07 PM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Hi Joe,
I just found out I need to be in San Jose for a conference and want to make the most of it and go out early and play a round. I’ve never golfed in California, so any course will be new. Pebble Beach is out of the budget as far as stay and play, so what other course in the vicinity is the MUST visit? Would it be Poppy Hills?

John Domer
Columbia, S.C.

Poppy Hills (831-625-2035, has been much maligned over the years, notably by Johnny Miller, who compared it to “Rosanne Barr replacing Bo Derek” when it took over Cypress Point’s spot in the AT&T National Pro-Am rotation. Personally, I think Poppy’s design is a tad underrated, yet it’s certainly not underpriced, at $200 for non-members to walk, another $18 to ride. As beautiful as it is tucked into the pine forests of Pebble Beach, it suffers from a lack of ocean views as well.

If you can’t handle the freight at Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill or Spanish Bay, I’d recommend the Bayonet/Blackhorse courses ($95-$160; 831-899-7271, in Seaside. Bayonet, a former Nationwide Tour site, is the slightly tougher of the two—and it’s a brute—but a recent redesign has it sporting spectacular bunkering and hugely improved greens and fairways. Blackhorse is the slightly more scenic of the two, with stunning long views of Monterey Bay and isn’t all that much easier than its sibling.

For pure fun amid muni-style conditions, consider a go at Pacific Grove Golf Links ($42-$65; 831-648-5775,, which dishes out a pleasant if forgettable parkland front nine, followed by nine charmers on the back, complete with ocean views, giant dunes and a lighthouse.

Closer to San Jose is Cinnabar Hills ($62-$105; 408-323-5200,, whose three boldly bunkered, Jack Nicklaus-designed nines are draped across hills and canyons.

Howdy Joe,
I’m going to Coeur d’Alene this summer with my wife’s family, and we have a foursome that would like to do some golfing. We figure the Resort course (floating green and all) is a must, but we don’t know where else to go. Any ideas on two to three other courses worth playing in that area?

Jason Leclaire
Denver, Colorado

Having just returned from playing the Coeur d’Alene Resort course ($150-$220; 208-667-4653,, I can tell you that the park-like conditions are superb, the lake, pine tree and geranium scenery is off-the-charts beautiful and the boat ride out to the island green is extra-sweet after your tee shot has found the putting surface.

However, don’t miss the Circling Raven Golf Club ($65-$95; 800-523-2464,, a 2003 Gene Bates design in nearby Worley that jumped into GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 You Can Play in 2008 and moved up to No. 92 in 2010. It may not have a floating island green, but this bird has everything else, including wetlands, grasslands and Ponderosa pines, plus unparalleled solitude, disturbed only by the stray moose or elk. Notable is Circling Raven’s set of par-3s, with holes that range from 192 yards to 253.

A low-priced alternative is StoneRidge ($26-$49; 208-437-4653, in Blanchard, just north of Coeur d’Alene, a 30-year-old layout that was redesigned in 2001. However, if you’re willing to drive 40 minutes back to Spokane, check out Indian Canyon ($27-$43; 509-747-5353,, a venerable muni near the airport that oozes character. Twice since 1930 it has hosted the USGA Public Links Championship. Don’t let the back tee length of 6,255 yards fool you: Hilly lies are the rule, and pine trees and undulating greens will keep the big bombers at bay.

Dear Joe,
For the past three years, I have visited my brother in northern Wisconsin for a week of non-stop golf. This year, he will be flying out to New York for five days of the same. While I have played a few of the courses in the area, your help in finding the best would be great. My brother is flying into Binghamton and I live in Ithaca, so any course from Syracuse to Binghamton is game. Our budget would be in the $30-$50 range, but we could stretch the budget for the right courses.

Kyle Molina
Ithaca, New York

You’re surrounded by the some of the greatest bargain courses in the Tri-State area, so let the games begin. Start with the Trophy Course of the region, En-Joie Country Club ($35-$59; 607-785-1661, in Endicott, which held the PGA Tour’s B.C. Open from 1971 to 2005. Past champions include Major winners Fred Couples, John Daly and Craig Stadler.

The best course—and best value—you can play is the Links at Hiawatha Landing ($42-$75; 607-687-6952,, a Brian Silva/Mark Mungeam creation in Apalachin, just west of Binghamton that sports golden fescues framing the fairways, in the spirit of Britain’s greatest links. At 7,104 yards, and water in play on seven holes, it’s all the golf you want, and you can walk it for $53 or less on any day.

Nearly as good is the Conklin Players Club ($42-$65; 607-775-3042, in Conklin, just south of Binghamton, and barely north of the Pennsylvania border. Ranked No. 12 in all of New York for public-access courses, Conklin is a 19-year-old, 6,772-yard track carpeted wall-to-wall in bentgrass. The island-green, 143-yard, par-3 10th is the layout’s signature hole, but of the other 17, there’s not a bad one in the bunch.

June 03, 2010

Ask Travelin' Joe: New York City and Ft. Lauderdale

Posted at 1:47 PM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Dear Joe,
My wife and I are doing a New York City vacation in late June. We're set for all the touristy stuff-Broadway shows, museums, Central Park-but it's my vacation, too. I want to get out for one round of golf. I'm an 8 handicap and would like to play one nice course that's convenient to the city. Suggestions?

Gordy Allen
Via email Poundridge

For tourists, golf in the city is all about minimizing the hassle factor. Bethpage Black? Fuhgettaboutit. The most conveniently situated top public course is Pound Ridge Golf Club ($95-$235; 914-764-5771,, about 40 miles from Manhattan. This 2008 Pete and Perry Dye design epitomizes the "brutal but beautiful" creations that are a family hallmark. Its 7,171 yards feature all of the classic Westchester County hallmarks, from lovely wooded, rolling terrain to multiple exposed rock outcroppings. It also includes all of the Dyes' usual handiwork, from pot bunkers to sharp-edged hazards to smallish, maddeningly contoured greens. You'll need to load up on extra spheres: wetlands, fescue mounds and a few frighteningly narrow fairways can send scores soaring. However, spectacular touches abound, notably at the 159-yard, par-3, all carry over wetland, to an incredibly wide, shallow green, backdropped by a gigantic rock outcropping.

It's not cheap, at $235, but then what is cheap in the Big Apple? If you've clever enough to make an advanced tee time (8 days out), it's $195. Play after 3 pm with an advanced reservation and it's $150. Two major Manhattan hotels offer special arrangements to play Pound Ridge. The five-star Mandarin Oriental's Best-in-Class Alignment allows guests to make tee times through the hotel's concierge and will set up car service to get you there. The New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square offers a similar service, including discounts on transportation. It's not like the hassle factor of a premium public golf experience -- or the expense -- disappears entirely, but Pound Ridge eases the burden considerably.

Dear Joe,
I read your advice all the time in GOLF Magazine. I love your suggestions. I am going to be in Ft. Lauderdale in June and was after a challenging round of golf. I look forward to your response.

SPC Grady W. Duebbe
Via email

Happy to help, Specialist. For pure challenge on quality layouts, you've got two options. First up is the region's top bargain, the Championship course at Colony West ($25.88-$49.98; 954-726-8430, Situated in Tamarac, just to the northwest, Colony West is a flat but grueling 7,312-yard march that opens with a 601-yard par-5 and doesn't let up. The 452-yard, par-4 12th, with its T-bone water hazard, is a brute. It's $25.88 to play during the week or after noon on weekends.

For an upgrade in conditioning and variety -- and price as well -- head to the Club at Emerald Hills ($54-$79) in Hollywood, seven miles south of the Ft. Lauderdale airport. As with Colony West, this is a 40-year-old Devlin/von Hagge design and its back tee rating and slope, 76.1/145, reflects its nastiness. The fearsome 18th, a 651-yard par-5 with water left and OB right is a beat-down from start to finish. Even during the week, its $54-$64 price tag is a bit of a splurge for a steamy summer day, but they get $175 during high season, so relatively speaking, it's not all bad.

(Photo: No. 4 at Pound Ridge)

September 16, 2009

Sagamore Resort in New York keeps getting better with age

Posted at 1:47 PM by Ryan Reiterman

Since 1883, the Sagamore Resort has drawn families from all over the New York area and beyond for its beautiful views of the Adirondack Mountains and Lake George, an abundance of outdoor activities and a Donald Ross golf course.

Now there are even more reasons to come back. The historic hotel has undergone several renovations that bring it up to date, while keeping that old-time charm.

Thirty six new rooms are open in the executive wing of the hotel, with several modern touches like flat-screen televisions and glass-enclosed showers.

The dining room has been renamed La Bella Vita Ristorante and is not to be missed, especially around sunset, since the elegant atmosphere and unobstructed views of the lake make for a memorable dinner.

Continue reading "Sagamore Resort in New York keeps getting better with age" »

July 03, 2009

Maidstone: The Garden of Eden

Posted at 1:20 PM by Rick Lipsey

A few days ago, I played Maidstone, which for decades had been on my “must play before I die” list. The experience was mind-jarringly surreal, kind of like seeing Monet’s Water Lillies or Michaelangelo’s David, and infinitely exceeded all of my expectations.

Maidstone is a 118-year-old club on the east end of Long Island in East Hampton, N.Y. Wedged between the Atlantic Ocean and Gardiner’s Bay, Maidstone is an ultra exclusive oasis of leisure with it’s renowned 18-hole course (84th on Golf Magazine’s Top 100 courses in the U.S.), a nine-hole executive course, 19-grass tennis courts, a beach club and a gigantic tudor clubhouse perched atop a hill between the main course and the ocean.

Continue reading "Maidstone: The Garden of Eden" »

November 13, 2008

Happy Birthday, Saint Andrew's Golf Club

Posted at 6:50 PM by Damon Hack

Hop onto an expressway anywhere in New York's Tri-state area and you will run into a legendary golf club somewhere. From the eastern tip of Long Island to the New Jersey Turnpike farther west, the landscape is dotted with courses that tell the story of American golf.

But only one American golf club can be the first American golf club. On Friday, the Saint Andrew's Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., will turn 120 years old, and I can vouch that the old man looks good for his age.

In April, the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association held its opening tournament of the season at Saint Andrew's. As usual, my golf was less than stellar and I finished way back in the pack. But the golf course, tucked into the rolling hills of Westchester County, blessed with views of the Hudson River and New York City, had me at hello.

The routing was superb, holes bending this way and that, testing every part of a golfer's game. But there was also the knowledge of walking onto a golf course steeped in history. Saint Andrew's was born when a Scottish sportsman named John Reid, his arms full of clubs and balls, laid out a three-hole course in February of 1888. I wasn't there to mark the occassion, but a historic moment had come.

Saint Andrew's hosted the first unofficial U.S. Amateur and first "open" championship. In 1894, the club became a founding member of the United States Golf Association. In 1983, Jack Nicklaus re-designed the course, adding flourishes to what is now a tough par-71 layout with everything you want.

In short, the club is handsome. It's a throwback to older times, even with a new pro shop and a restored clubhouse. But I'll leave the last word to Bobby Jones.

"The finest thing the Saint Andrew's Golf Club did in starting the game of golf was that they started it right, with the right traditions," Jones said.

Ask Travelin' Joe

Our traveling correspondent has been where you're going. Heading out of town on vacation? Business trip? Travelin' Joe can suggest the best places for you to tee it up. If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at


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