62 Courses await in Rochester New York!
The message to all of my Canadian golfing friends from Southwestern Ontario through to Montreal, Quebec is that – “It’s worth the drive to Rochester!”
Of course that holds true for everyone within a 4-6 hour drive in the USA or perhaps you are in the high heat of summer in Florida and you want to escape!
Think rooftop patio, a cold Genie in hand, within the vibrant atmosphere of the Genesee Brewhouse. You are overlooking the River of the same name and the downtown falls!
You might say that “a river runs through it!”… apparently, so does the NY Golf Trail!
The little city on the south side of the lake has a lot more to offer than we may give it credit for! For the record, it’s not so little, it’s the 3rd largest in the State of New York behind the obvious (take a guess) and Buffalo.
A boomtown back in the day, picture perfect (LOL) when Kodak was born, and home to many other inventions and innovations. Kodak is gone, and things may have felt empty for a while but I can tell you that the ROC is back!
You just can’t keep a good city with good people, and maybe the friendliest people in the north, down. They may not be the biggest city in the State but they are probably the highest in per capita income!
With that, we have just had one of the most prestigious clubs in America, Oak Hill Country Club, host another major event – the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. For the record – and an impressive record it is – Oak Hill is the only club to have hosted three PGA Championships, the Ryder Cup, three United States Opens, two United States Amateurs, the United States Senior Open and the Senior PGA Championship. The PGA Championship is returning in 2023.
While my excuse to visit was the recent Senior PGA Championship – where we mere mortal, everyday golfers can’t get on to Oak Hill without an invitation – my real reason for this Rochester visit is to tell you about the courses that you can play. Can you believe that there are over 60 of them?! The vibrant bars and restaurants in a revitalized downtown, shopping and, oh ya, did you know that there are about 100 wineries and distilleries in the area?
Side note LOL – while leaving the Hyatt downtown on Friday morning, clubs in tow, one of the PGA officials approached me asking if he could assist and what time I was teeing off…should have went along with it – right?!
First up, Ravenwood Golf Club. I have played the poor man’s Pebble Beach, so you might consider Ravenwood as the poor man’s Oak Hill. Deserving of so much more than poor man status this could be considered the top course in the area. Opened in 2003 and garnered a Top Five in Golf Digest “Best New Courses” having hosted many USGA & PGA qualifiers as well as the Home of the 2003 & 2009 New York Men’s Amateur Golf Championships.
In pristine condition just six weeks ago, the course features a rolling terrain with elevated tee and greens. Fairways are generous, with some being tree lined while others introduce some WOW factor with water hazards and wetlands. Greens are large with some undulations but nothing too crazy!
Of note: A number of fun risk reward holes. Great par 3’s. Four of the last five holes have those water hazards to deal with. 18th might be the signature hole, long uphill par 5. Although who doesn’t like a hole called the Lake Hole – par 3 – 14th!
A short drive to a great experience!
We followed up our round with a margarita (and beers) and you might want to as well! Heading downtown to Bitter Honey a casual neighborhood restaurant serving up authentic Mexican fare in a family-style setting. Cocktails and tacos anyone??? http://www.bitterhoneyroc.com
If Ravenwood is the top ranked public course, then the Links at Greystone might just be the #1 links style public golf course in the Rochester area. Its 4.5 Star rating with Golf Digest might just confirm that for you if I don’t!
It was early when I drove onto the property, over the boulders than line the drive the sunrise enhances the terrain changes, but what you see is only a fraction of what you get!
At Greystone you are going to get just about everything that the game of golf can throw at you!
Some tree lined fairways start your ascent to the peaks of the property and as you decent the rest of the fairways open up. Easy, right? WRONG!
Not that the first five holes are ordinary but the drama begins with a severe drop from the 5th tee box to fairway below. Six is one of the pretty holes, par 3, over water, a rock wall protects a slick green… FYI if you think there is no wind – hit an extra club anyway! Drama downhill was fun, hitting to High Heaven #7, not so much, at least two clubs to this green! Number 8, par 4, back to downhill drama, short risk reward – almost drove this baby!
Nothing as dramatic on the back 9, just a collection of very good golf holes. Then the spectacular finishing hole, downhill tee shot and you want to be as close to the water as possible for your all carry second shot to a massive double green shared with #9.
You deserve a drink after this round and they have the perfect pub style setting right in the clubhouse! Did I already say a short drive to a great experience?
More fine dining on the horizon, you almost have the feeling of being in Toronto’s trendy Yorkville area or perhaps Old Montreal… But no! We are in trendy downtown Rochester at Native Eatery and Bar. With the atmosphere buzzing, Native offers a casual upscale dining experience, features locally sourced, new-age American cuisine, handcrafted cocktails, microbrews and a vast array of wine. https://www.nativerochester.com
Unfortunately we did not have a great day to play Deerfield Golf & Country Club, another of the gems in the Rochester area! One of the older courses in the area, 3 nines, opened in the 60’s and was private at the time. It has hosted the likes of Lee Trevino, Lee Elder, Julius Boros and Bob Murphy in its day! The course was recently revitalized, and we did manage 9 holes before the rains. Call it long and tight. Next longest in the area to Oak Hill! Relatively flat with tree lined fairways with a few creeks and pond to add to the mix. A true players club, I had a chance to meet a few of the members heading out for their regular Saturday matches!
Did I say great people? You are not going to find a friendlier staff in the golf business and the new clubhouse here is spectacular! Pride of ownership exudes!
I never thought I would be telling anyone about a white hotdog – never thought I would want to eat a white hot dog! Goes to show you how friendly they are, I ate a white Zweigles hot dog with beef and mustard on it just the way they told me too. In fact I ate two!
When in Rochester you should too! Cuz, it’s a short drive to a great experience!
The sun came out in the late afternoon, so it was time to rendezvous roof top at the Genesee roof top – can’t come to Rochester and not do that! https://www.geneseebeer.com/brewhouse
Dinner that night was with a man that you might want to know to help plan your golfing visit to the Rochester and the Finger Lakes area. Rod Christian is the founder of the New York Golf Trail. https://nygolftrail.com/things-to-do/finger-lakes
Dinner, who says you need to go south for great BBQ? Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, atmosphere a buzz, great sloppy eating experience in a packed house. It was over an hour wait so a couple of bar rats like us managed to cozy right up! A must stop… https://www.dinosaurbarbque.com/rochester
Just a small sampling of what an all too often overlooked destination on the other side of the lake has to offer a golfer and a foodie! I guess I need to go back to the ROC for more!
Who wants to come????