It’s no secret that the Empire State is home to some of the most storied golf courses in the country. National Golf Links, Shinnecock, Winged Foot, the list goes on. It’s also true that most of these iconic tracks are also private. Not the kind of private you can stroke a check to and get in, either. We’re talking about the kind of private where the waitlist for membership is generations long.
What a lot of people don’t know is that there’s no shortage of great public golf to be played too. At the urging of our loyal readers, I’ve put together a list of the best public tracks you can play in New York. I had to stop at ten, but there’s many more that belong.
So, before another New York Minute passes by in the words of Billy Joel, let’s have a closer look.
Shenendoah Course at Turning Stone Resort
There are three courses at Turning Stone Resort, but everyone’s favorite seems to be the Shenendoah Course.
This American links style layout will test every facet of your game. Not only is it long from the back tees, it demands accuracy too. Native grasses line the fairways and plenty of bunkers are strategically placed.
The greens are large and undulating. Pay attention to hole locations or you could be left with some long, difficult putts.
There’s plenty more than great golf to be found here. The hotel, casino, and amenities are the best you’ll find anywhere in the country.
Leatherstocking Golf Course
When you think of Cooperstown, New York, the Baseball Hall of Fame is the first attraction that comes to mind. And rightfully so. Though I haven’t been myself, I’m told the facility is something every American needs to experience.
What you might not know is that the town is also home to Leatherstocking Golf Course.
Considered one of the most scenic, yet challenging courses on the East Coast, Leatherstocking dates all the way back to 1909. Designed by Deveraux Emmet, the layout has classic American design features. Rolling hills, tree lined fairways, and postage stamp greens are the hallmarks.
Keeping the ball in play is much more important than hitting it as far as you can.
If you’re a fan of classic designs and beautiful views, it’s hard to find better than Leatherstocking.
Pound Ridge Golf Club
Just an hour north of New York City, you’ll find Pound Ridge Golf Club.
Designed by the venerable Pete Dye, Pound Ridge has been ranked as the “#7 Toughest Public Golf Course in the Country.”
While it might not be the best choice for rank beginners, it’s a must play if you’ve been at it a while and want to test yourself.
In typical Dye fashion, this track is visually intimidating from the tee and into the green. Ample mounding and plenty of hazards come into play.
Always in great shape and one of the most underrated layouts in the Northeast, don’t miss a chance to play Pound Ridge.
The Links at Union Vale
Hands down, the Links at Union Vale is the premier golf course in the Hudson Valley. It’s easily accessible to golfers from Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York City.
This links design is virtually treeless and affords stunning views of the surrounding Catskill Mountains and Hudson Hills. Bring a camera.
Even though the course is wide open, it demands your best ball striking. Bunkers abound and there are plenty of hazards.
The experience here isn’t complete without a meal and a pint in the Harp and Eagle Pub. The Irish-themed pub has delicious food and enough Guinness on tap to you glowing as long as your heart desires.
Seneca Hickory Stick Golf Course
Seneca Hickory Stick Golf Course is considered one of the finest courses in the western part of the state.
The layout is hallmarked by pristine fairways, tranquil lakes, native grasses, and mature trees.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones II, this track is known for being in superb condition. It’s no wonder golfers come from far and wide to play here.
If you want to work on your game, take advantage of some of the largest practice areas in the country. There isn’t a shot you can’t work on at Seneca Hickory Stick.
Hiland Park Country Club
The number of awards and accolades that Hiland Park Country Club has received is too long to list. Clearly, this course is the place to be.
Located in the community of Queensbury, Hiland Park is a classic parkland design that offers an entertaining variety of holes. Plenty of opportunity for both risk and reward.
It’s also known for being in outstanding condition. The greens are some the fastest in the state and being above the hole can get tricky.
A must play if you find yourself in the Queensbury area.
Ravenwood Golf Club
Just a short drive south of Rochester you’ll find Ravenwood Golf Club. When it opened in 2003 Golf Digest called this track the “5th Best New Public Golf Course in the United States.”
Unlike a lot of courses this far north, the greens and fairways at Ravenwood are bent grass. The surface is a dream to play off.
The routing is somewhat open but demands precision on approach shots into the green. Distance control is key as being above the hole can be treacherous.
A hidden gem that’s easy to get to, don’t overlook Ravenwood.
Seven Oaks Golf Club
Seven Oaks Golf Club is the home track for Colgate University.
Robert Trent Jones designed this historic course all the way back in 1934.
Even though the course has undergone a number of renovations since that date, it still maintains its original character.
In true Jones fashion, water is strategically placed throughout the course and the greens are tricky to read.
A classic American parkland design, this course might take a round or two to figure out.
Wild Wood Country Club
Wild Wood Country Club is a semi-private facility in the town of Rush.
Truly a mom-and-pop operation, Mike and Liz Sweazy run the show here. That’s reflected in the personalized, welcoming service you receive from the time you walk in the door.
Wild Wood is all that long, but it’s narrow. Best to play conservative off the tee if you want to score. The greens undulating too. Take careful note of the pin placement for the day and plan accordingly.
A memorable experience, outstanding service, at a reasonable price, this place is a winner on every front.
Camillus Hills Golf Course
For more than 50 years, Camillus Hills has been a premier golf facility in Syracuse.
Known for its laid back atmosphere and playable design, Camillus Hills is the perfect place for golfers of all abilities.
Even though the design is older, it has some modern features. Of note, are the significant elevation changes that can be found throughout. This makes club selection tricky on a number of holes.
There’s also plenty of opportunity for risk and reward including a number of drivable par fours.
One of the more fun rounds in the state, everyone seems to be a fan of Camillus Hills.
I haven’t spent a ton of time in New York, but it’s more than apparent that people take their golf seriously in the Empire State.
While New York is home to some of the most exclusive, iconic courses in the country, there’s more than enough great public golf to go around.
Thanks to everyone that contributed their insights to make this guide possible. Feel free to add your thoughts down below in the comments.