New York State Golf Builds on Heritage

The first American course is in Yonkers, N.Y. In 1888, John Reid and his "Apple Tree Gang" of friends played three holes of golf in a cow pasture, the basis for what is now Saint Andrews Country Club in Hastings-on-Hudson, the oldest continuously operated golf club in America.

Today, 124 years later, Empire State residents and visitors have almost 1,000 golf courses from which to choose, everything from little-known gems in small towns to some of America's best-known layouts.

New York's claim to the birthplace of American golf hinges on a technicality - Oakhurst Links in West Virginia opened in 1884 but that course has had an interrupted history of operations.

Saint Andrews is only one of many links between New York and golf. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, in Southampton on Long Island, which has since hosted the U.S. Open four five times, opened in 1892. On June 13-17 of this year, another Empire State course, Locust Hills Country Club just outside Rochester, will be the site of the LPGA Championship.

In 1890, the country's first resort golf club, Hotel Champlain, opened at Bluff Point, N.Y. And 1895 saw the opening of the first American public course, Van Courtland Park in the Bronx, which, with its subway stop, is literally one of the nation's most accessible courses.

The Black Course at the Bethpage State Park Golf Club in Farmingdale has been ranked in the top-10 best and most difficult courses in the country. It hosted the U.S. Open and other major tournaments and is a public course. Two of Bethpage's five courses, Black and Red, rank among the top public courses in the state, joining such other notables as the three layouts at Turning Stone club in Verona; Montauk Downs on Long Island; Hiawatha Landing in Apalachin; Saratoga National in Saratoga Springs; Leatherstocking in Cooperstown; Branton Woods in Hopewell Junction; and the Sagamore in Bolton Landing.

New York can also claim three of the game's most famous architects as native sons - Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Jr. and Rees Jones - who together have created almost 1,000 championship courses around the globe. Jones Sr. arrived from England at the turn of the 20th century and grew up in upstate New York, attended Cornell University, and began his career as a caddie. His two sons, Trent Jones Jr. and Rees Jones, followed in their father's footsteps.

A good place to start finding great values is the New York Golf Trail, which includes courses in seven geographical categories - the Finger Lakes, Central New York, Cooperstown, Saratoga, the Hudson Valley, Lake Placid, and "Off the Beaten Track." The trail's website lists golf facilities, current golf packages and area lodgings as well as descriptions of the regions and things to do in them. For more information, visit or call 800/614-7450.

This is a sampling of some of New York's courses:

Beekman Country Club, Hopewell Junction. This facility has been selected as one of the 50 top golf courses for women in the United States, and is in the top four for the Northeast. This year, the 27-hole championship course is celebrating its 50th anniversary., or 845/226-7700, ext. 1

Bluff Point Golf Resort, Plattsburgh. This well-maintained venue is in picturesque Lake Champlain where you'll see the Adirondack Mountains. The championship course was designed by Albert W. Tillinghast (renowned for courses such as Baltusrol Golf Club, Bethpage Black, and Winged Foot)., or 518/563-3420 or 800/438-0985

Brookhaven Golf Club, Porter Corners. 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of this 18-hole course that stretches 6,570 yards from the tips and winds through woodlands. Designed by George Pulver, Brookhaven opened in 1963., or call 518/893-7458

Brookwoods Country Club, Ontario. Built in 1928, this course was designed by Geoffrey Cornish and is known for its slick greens and good conditioning. Brookwoods has hosted a U.S. Women's Open qualifier, U.S. Public Links qualifier, multiple RDGA championships and all six New York State Amateur championships., or 315/524-8495

Chautauqua Golf Club, Chautauqua. Associated with the Chautauqua Institution, this venue contains two 18-hole courses. The Learning Center features a 300-yard driving range, two practice greens and three practice holes. The Lake course was designed by Donald Ross and the Hill course by Xen Hassenplug., or 716/357-6211

Chestnut Hill Country Club, Darien Center. Having the best public greens in Western New York according to Niagara Golfer magazine, Chestnut Hill Country Club is occupies rolling hills 20 minutes east of Buffalo., or 585/547-3613

Doral Arrowwood Golf Club at the Doral Arrowwood Hotel & Conference Center, Rye Brook. Designed by Robert von Hagge, who crafted the Blue Monster in Miami, this 3,200-yard, par-35 layout is just minutes from White Plains. It also has the Mitchell Spearman Golf Academy., or 914/323-4478 or 939-5500, ext. 4478

Lazy Swan Golf and Country Club Village, Saugerties. Located five minutes off the New York State Thruway, Lazy Swan is a nine-hole course designed by Barry Jordan. Players will encounter several ponds, rock outcroppings, elevation changes, an alpine garden and Catskill Mountains views., or 845/247-0075

Pheasant Hill Country Club, Owego. Pheasant Hill's 18-hole layout was opened in 2008. It features rolling hills, valleys, ponds and bentgrass greens., or call 607/687-0722

Rock Hill Golf and Country Club, Manorville. Designed by Frank Duane, this hilly course on Long Island plays long. Opened in 1965, the 18-hole track offers a few water hazards and tree-lined fairways., or 631/878-2250

Seven Oaks Golf Course, Hamilton. Owned by Colgate University, this 18-hole course was designed by Robert Trent Jones., or 315/824-1432

Thousand Islands Country Club, Wellesley Island. Thousand Islands was designed by George Boldt and sits across from the resort village of Alexandria Bay in the heart of 1000 Islands. It features 36 holes, lodging, a 100-slip marina, pool, and a reputation of hospitality that goes back over 100 years., or 800/928- 8422

A complete list of public golf courses in New York is available online at