Last month we had the great fortune to visit one of the neatest towns, best hall of fame, iconic, grand hotels and a course still rated one of the tops in the state after 109 years.
We went to Cooperstown, New York. We visited the Baseball Hall of Fame and stayed in the Otesaga Hotel. We also played Leatherstocking Golf Course that was opened in 1909 and is rated number 3 in Courses you can Play by this year’s Golfweek.
The ride to Cooperstown takes just under four hours from Providence, but once you get there you will feel like you have stepped back in time to a completely different era. The town has one traffic light and a main street. Lake Otsego is two blocks from “downtown” and sitting alongside the lake is the grandest hotel and one of the prettiest golf courses you will find.
We checked into The Otesaga Resort Hotel upon our arrival. The 250 rooms have excellent amenities, high ceilings and great views of the lake and golf course. You will feel you have stepped back in time, but you still have all the present day amenities. The hotel has a grand ballroom, wonderful dining area and a patio dining area overlooking the lake where we had our dinner that evening.
“The first tee is just the other side of the parking lot,” said the doorman as we wondered where we needed to go for our golf. How nice to just walk out of your room and step on the first tee.
It helped to have a sunny, bucolic day to play the Devereax Emmet designed course that opened at the same time as the hotel in 1909. It has certainly handled the test of time. The course has many local professional tournaments, and one was just completing as we teed off. Dan Spooner, the head professional for the last 28 years, had a big smile on his face as he described the course. “Everyone loves it and always look forward to the chance to play this old gem,” he said.
The course is challenging. Many of the greens are elevated, the bentgrass greens are fast and true and there are many difficult second shots. The course measures only 6,401 yards from the tips, but the 6,000 yard white tees we played were an excellent challenge. The forward tees measure 5,180 yards and there were many women and some seniors playing those tees.
The uphill par 4 seventh hole is the number one handicap hole. The sloping, elevated green is difficult to get the ball close. Holes 9-12 are played across the road leading out of town and are a higher elevation. The ninth is as par 3 uphill to a narrow green. Ten, a par 4, is an uphill, downhill and then back uphill to a hidden green.
Hole 11 is a long, narrow par 5 that wends it way back down the hill a bit. The approach shot to the downhill green is fun. The 12th hole, a severe downhill par 3, was the most fun. It measures 137 from the back tee, but it looks like you can just throw it down the hill. There are nine bunkers around the green for protection—both for the hole and also for your ball careening towards that road that you have to cross to get back to the course proper.
Holes 16-18 make for a great finish. The par 4 sixteenth is played to an almost island green with water on three sides. The par 3 17th is over a pond, and then the par 5 18th has an island tee. It is risk/reward, but be careful how much you bite off when playing across the pond to the dogleg left hole.
We had dinner on the patio after golf. The sun was setting, the weather was perfect, and the food was excellent. My wife said that it was one of the prettiest places she had eaten, but looking back at that 18th hole, I kept thinking about the tee ball that didn’t clear the pond.
The next morning we had a wonderful buffet breakfast in the beautiful dining room. Next, we headed up the street to the Hall of Fame. We only had a couple of hours before heading to our next destination, but you truly could spend all day in the Hall of Fame. We can’t wait to go back to Cooperstown.
Bruce Vittner is the publisher/editor of Southern New England Golfer and a member of the Golf Writers of America and the Golf Travel Writers of America and can be reached at email@example.com.