We had visited Ulster County along the Hudson River in New York in 2015. We had met Rick Remsnyder, Tourism Director for Ulster County, at one of the golf shows and he talked about how we would enjoy the excellent golf in Ulster County. He was right.
We returned recently to play a new course has been added to the courses you can play in Ulster County. Wiltwyck Golf Club in Kingston, formerly a championship private course, went public this year and is definitely a must play. The course originally opened in 1933, but it was moved to its present location just off the New York Thruway at exit 19 in 1954. Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed it, and you will thoroughly enjoy your round.
It is not an easy course, as most of the holes are tree lined, and there are elevation changes on many of the holes. You will find doglegs that Jones Sr. always included in his design. It can play to 6,877 yards, but four other tee boxes make it fair for all.
The signature ninth hole is a tough dogleg right par 4 with a pond in front of the green. It is the number 3 handicap hole, so you know that the number 1 handicap seventh hole, a 572-yard narrow par 5, must be really tough. It is. New head professional, Luke Burbach, said that the front is about three strokes more difficult than the back nine.
The back nine is closer to the Thruway and offers many pretty holes with the downhill par-415th being the prettiest. Be careful of the water that sits right of the fairway.
Rates for the golf at Wiltwyck are very fair for the quality of golf and the amenities that you receive. You can book a tee time at 845-331-7878.
The next day we visited Woodstock Golf Club that opened in the spring of 1929. You might remember that was the year of the Great Depression in October. Plans for the 18-hole fancy country club, tennis course and opulent clubhouse were scrubbed. Not to worry. The short (2,759 yard) par 35 course is a little gem.
The course is still private, but if you are staying in Ulster County, you can get a tee time. If you have a couple of hours, you will have a memorable round of golf. There is a good selection of both short and long holes. The par 3 fourth is played over a pond to a flat green. The par 3 ninth is played over the Sawkill River to a narrow green with a bunker front right.
The Woodstock Open is considered the longest running professional tournament in the United States. The legendary Gene Sarazen played in it twice in the 1960’s and Babe Ruth played the course many times. The 83rd Emerson Resort & Spa Woodstock Open will take place July30.
If you have the time, the cute restaurant that overlooks the river that winds along the side of the course offers excellent food. You can get more information at woodstockgolf.com or call the pro shop at 845-679-2914.
No, Woodstock is not where they had that infamous, wild three-day music festival! It was supposed to be in town, but the town would not permit it because so many tickets were sold. They had to go to Bethel for the event in 1969, but a Woodstock Festival was held in 1994 that was much tamer.
In 2015 we visited Lazy Swan Golf and Country Club Village in Saugerties, eight miles north of Kingston, and then traveled to the Rondout Golf Club in Accord about 20 miles south. The courses were quite different, but both were very enjoyable. Rondout is closed this year for maintenance.
Lazy Swan had sloping, fast greens with some beautiful views. The first hole starts over a pond, and that same pond becomes a hazard next to the fifth green. Holes four and fourteen are the lowest handicap holes for good reason. Both are long par 4s that dogleg right, but the fairways slope to the left.
The Biarritz green on the par 3 seventh over a pond (similar to the 9th hole at the Yale Course in New Haven) will impress you, unless you have to putt from the back plateau to the front. “You can’t get close to that front pin unless you are short of the green,” said head professional Steve Simeon.
We were impressed by the design of the course. Barry Jordan designed the first nine holes in 2008 and the second nine was completed in 2011. You will know where the new holes are as you travel up the hill to holes 6 and 7 and the tee shot on 8, and cross the road for holes 13 to 17.
The property has a huge deck overlooking the course and an outdoor bar next to the course. There is also a large ballroom for weddings and golfing banquets.
We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Kingston that is centrally located to all the courses. Sandra Sanicki, group sales manager at the Hampton, had been kind enough to provide us a room. “Rick does so much work for our county that I always try to help him out,” said Sandra who talked to all the guests who were down for the very nice free breakfast.
The next morning we ventured out for only 27 holes—18 at Apple Greens in Highland and then to New Paltz Golf Course that is a nine-holer in its namesake.
Apple Greens has 27 holes including its East 9 that is just spectacular as it rises up the side of a steep hill with great views of the Catskills to the west.
The course started as a nine-holer, but soon expanded to 18 holes. Later they purchased the land across the street and carved out the final nine through heavy rock and shale. Fifteen of the 27 holes have water that comes into play, but it is mostly in play on the par 3 5th hole with water almost surrounding the green on the left side and in front, the 10th hole that has two ponds in front of the tee (carry of 230 yards to get over the second pond, and 40 yards between the first and second pond), the 17th hole that has water front left of the green, the 19th (yes, and will explain in a minute) that requires a tee shot over a pond that doglegs right, straight up the hill, and hole 22 that has an elevated tee with a pond to the left of the fairway. The owners decided to keep the numbers going higher when they expanded to 27 holes.
Our last stop was New Paltz Golf Course about 10 minutes from Apple Greens. New Paltz is a college town (SUNY) and is also very artsy. The course is a hidden gem. One of those old-time courses that are quite long and require some careful thinking. PGA professional Larry Furey, the former owner and his wife run the course. She runs the fine restaurant upstairs from the small pro shop, and there is another restaurant on property.
There are over a dozen golf courses in Ulster County and many are nine holes. Kingston is a neat town right along the Hudson River. Make sure you walk on the pedestrian bridge that takes you across the Hudson River; it is a mile walk if you go all the way across and back. Kingston is three hours from Providence, but only 1-½ hours for our readers in the Springfield area.
For more information you can call Ulster County Tourism at 1-800-342-5826 or visit them online at ulstercountyalive.com.
Bruce Vittner is a member of the Golf Writers of America and the Golf Travel Writers of America and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org