New York, New York, no doubt it gets all the glam…and maybe rightly so for hustle and bustle, shopping and dining with the “in crowd.” Personally I will take Upstate New York – nine times out of 10!

On my recent visit to the Oneida Nation’s Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY, just east of Syracuse, I too was able to indulge in gourmet food, some fine wine, the odd cocktail and most of all my weakness – the desire to golf!  My desire was truly fulfilled by three distinctly different world class layouts designed by some of the finest golf chefs in the world.

The cream of the crop for most will be the Tom Fazio designed Atunyote Golf Club which opened in 2004 and hosted the PGA Tour’s Turning Stone Resort Championship from 2007 – 2010.  From the moment you approach the gate (see video) to the property (off the resort site, a couple of miles) you know that you are in for a different experience.  Parkland in style, the front nine features rolling hills, peace and serenity, fairly wide open fairways and large undulating greens.  As any good chef might do, in this case during the entre or back nine, mix in some large ponds / small lakes with a meandering rock lined stream, picturesque rock formations and a couple of waterfalls for good measure.  A recipe for a wonderful, memorable day regardless of your score.  Should you get a little peckish through the round you will find one of the most unique beverage carts also meandering the fairways and at the ninth tee a good old fashioned phone booth to call in a clubhouse order.

I can’t say that I have played many Robert Trent Jones, Jr. courses but I can tell you the Kaluhyat Golf Club might just be one of the most demanding that I have played.  With a slope of 150 from the tips let’s hope that the weekend warriors choose their tees to play wisely!

Call it target golf if you like, but still fair, some blind shots and tree lines fairways to deal with as well.  Positioning off the tee a mast to post a good score.  It is a Certified Audubon Signature Sanctuary, with carries over and around wetlands, native plant life and natural terrain.

The most player friendly of the top three course at Turning Stone is the Rick Smith designed Shenendoah Golf Club.  Predominately a parkland style course, undulating fairways move you from tree lined holes to those that look wide open, other than the native grasses which line some that might not be a wide open as they first appear. Definitely the most played of all the courses and like all the rest, a natural setting free of homes or building structures.

Two other courses on property include:

Sandstone Hollow, also designed by Rick Smith, this nine-hole, par three course should not be taken lightly!  Winding through woods and wetlands, with greens surrounded by wild fescue grasses and rock outcroppings, this course is rated among the top 25 par three courses in the USA by Golf Event magazine.

Pleasant Knolls a player-friendly recreational course, nine holes of par 36 golf, wide-open fairways, fast greens, challenging water hazards and gently rolling terrain.

Turning Stone Resort Casino is more than just a casino — it’s a sports and recreation destination in Upstate New York, in fact it’s one of the top five tourist destinations in New York State seeing more than four million visitors each year.

Featuring world-class amenities that includes four hotels, The Lodge an all suite property was my oh so comfortable home for a few nights, just so happened to have been awarded the prestigious  Forbes Four Star Award, as well both The Lodge and the Tower Hotel, offering panoramic views has for 12 years now been awarded the AAA Four Diamond Award.

Oysters at the TS Steakhouse

More than 20 fabulous dining options await and you might notice from the videos that I found my way to a few of them, TS Steakhouse being my favorite followed closely by a little Italian – go figure-  in Pino Bianco.

Additionally, two luxurious spas, a 125,000 square foot Las Vegas-style state of the art gaming floor, a cabaret style Showroom, a 5,000 seat arena, and several nightlife venues.

Rainy days – although never on the course right?!  If by chance and you are at Turning Stone you can visit the Sportsplex Dome and Superstore on property that has an indoor driving range, short game area and PGA instruction at the Golf Academy featuring Flight Scope, 3D teaching aids and golf simulators.

Tennis anyone?  Eight Decoturf tennis courts — four indoor and four outdoor courts.

Decoturf surfaces, also used at the US Open, provide a comfortable environment for practicing.

For lessons, reserve time with one of the resort’s professional tennis staffers and allow them to work one-on-one with you to get you back onto the court.

For those of us in Toronto area you are looking at about a five hour drive, from Montreal slightly less to this Upstate New York destination.  It is well worth the drive for a weekend or a week!  A perfect trifecta of golf and so much more!

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