Upstate New York's Most Beautiful and Challenging Courses

By Ryan Watson

Upstate New York is well known for its beautiful scenary, colorful autumn, and picturesque small towns. Perhaps lesser known outside the state, but this region is also home to some of the most challenging and beautiful golf courses in America open to the public.

Seven Oaks Golf Club

2 E. Lake Road
Hamilton, NY 13346
(315) 824-1432

Located on the grounds of Colgate University in historic Hamilton, Seven Oaks traces its history to faculty members in 1916 founding the then called Hamilton Golf Club. Boasting a course designed from Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Seven Oaks provides a challenging course that requires golfers make tough shot selection.

Sagamore Golf Course

110 Sagamore Rd.
Bolton Landing, NY 12814
(518) 743-6380

Surrounded by beautiful hardwood forests above Lake George, the Sagamore Resort plays host to one of the most beautiful courses in the region, especially during the fall. This Donald Ross designed course uses the natural landscape of the Adirondack Mountains to challenge golfers with rolling greens and deep bunkers.

The Links at Hiawatha Landing

2350 Marshland Rd.
Apalachin, NY 13732
(607) 687-6952

Located next to the majestic Susquehanna River in Apalachin, The Links at Hiawatha Landing features one of the few links-style courses in the area. Designed by Brian Silva and Mark Mungeam, the course uses the rolling hills and numerous natural water hazards to make a course to challenge even the most skilled golfers.

Atunyote at Turning Stone Resort & Casino

4774 State Route 31
Vernon, NY 13476
(877) 748-4653

Consistently rated one of the best courses open to the public in the state, Atunyote is one of three courses at Turning Stone Resort & Casino to make this list. Named after the Oneida word for eagle, this course, designed by Tomm Fazio, has previously hosted PGA Tour events. The challenge in this course is setting up the perfect second shot, with deceptively wide fairways leading to a difficult approach to the green.

Kaluhyat at Turning Stone Resort & Casino

5218 Patrick Road
Verona, NY 13478
(877) 748-4653

Another championship level course provided by the Oneida Indian Nation at Turning Stone Resort & Casino, Kaluhyat provides more breathtaking views of scenic Upstate New York. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., this course is known for its drastic elevation changes and features a slope rating of 150. This course is one that demands excellent shotmaking and strategy to get the best out of the course.

Shenendoah at Turning Stone Resort & Casino

5218 Patrick Road
Verona, NY 13478
(877) 748-4653

Shenendoah is the third of Rising Stone's treble of championship caliber courses. Recently altered to provide seven brand new holes, Shenendoah provides a unique natural experience while still providing a stern challenge for any golfer. Meeting the standards of both the Audubon International for environmental protection and the PGA Tour, golfers enjoy the low country-style layout that features woodland, parkland, and pasture holes.

Conklin Player's Club

1520 Conklin Road
Conklin, NY 13748
(607) 775-3042

Typically ranked in the top 3-5 of New York courses open to the public, Conklin Player's Club provides one of the most unique challenges provided in the region. The course features near constant elevation changes due to the naturally hilly landscape. Knowing your own game well is the key to conquering this course, as club choice inevitable factors into any game at Conklin.

Seneca Hickory Stick

4560 Creek Road
Lewiston, NY 14092
(716) 754-2424

Another unique Upstate New York course, Seneca Resorts & Casinos' eclectic course was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Featuring a split fairway and a dual green, this course challenges golfers with both its design and the natural geography of the region.

Timber Banks Golf Club

3536 Timber Banks Parkway
Baldwinsville, NY 13027
(315) 635-8800

The only course in Upstate New York to boast a design from Jack Nicklaus' own Nicklaus Design company, Timber Banks provides a championship quality course open to the public. The variety on display keeps golfers coming back to this challenging course, as woodland, pasture, and wetland environments are incorporated into the holes at Timber Banks. In addition, the difficulty of the greens remains well known amongst the region's golfers.

Thendara Golf Club

151 Fifth St.
Thendara, NY 13472
(315) 369-3136

Thendara Golf Club has been one of Upstate New York's premier courses since the 1920s. Located in the foothills of the Adirondaks, this course was designed by legendary Dinald Ross. Though only opened seasonally, this course is an excellent and challenging glimpse into golf's past as it has resisted the urge to lengthen the course to a more modern standard, staying under 6,500 yards. Another course best enjoyed near peak fall with the beautiful forests providing an excellent woodland course.

About the Author

Ryan Watson is a freelance sportswriter and history professor. He has been an avid fan of golf since his father signed him up for golf camp as a young child. Ryan enjoys following the professional game and learning about new equipment and gadgets.