Turning a weekend into fun golf and gaming at Turning Stone

By Katharine DysonSeptember 29, 2008, 4:00 pm
Atunyote clubhouse
The Atunyote clubhouse

Turning Stone in Verona, just east of Syracuse, is a destination unto itself. Rising like Atlantis out of the rural landscape of forests, blue Harvestor silos, red barns and grazing cows ' and did I mention sheep ' theres not really much else out there, but even if you dont play games ' any game ' checking into Turning Stone is like entering another world, which is uncharacteristic of central New York.
Although gaming and golf may sound like an oxymoron, clearly its a formula that works here where you have more to bet on besides black jack, slots and poker. You have golf on arguably three of New York's top golf courses: Kaluhyat (ga-LU-yut); Atunyote (uh-DUNE-yote) and Shenendoah. Theres also a no-slouch par 3 course, Sandstone Hollow, that is kind to beginners and impresses even big hitters.
Happily coexisting along with casino action and designer golf courses are major entertainment complexes, shopping, dining options and the Ska:na spa.
Kaluhyat and Shenendoah share a handsome clubhouse which is within walking distance of the hotel and the Lodge, while Atunyote, 2 miles from Turning Stone, and Sandstone Hollow each have their own facility.
Kaluhyat, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and playing 7,105 yards from the tips (five tee boxes), uses everything in Jones arsenal: sizable elevation changes, narrow chutes to navigate from tees to wide sweeping links-like fairways, many large bunkers, forced carries, dog legs and six lakes. (Green fees $120-$150)
Atunyote (the Eagle), 2 miles from Turning Stone, a Tom Fazio gem playing 7,315 yards from the back tees, is more parkland in style with a number of lakes, vast bunkers, rock formations and rolling landscape. It is also the most expensive to play ($225-$250) with its own clubhouse, caddies and a gated entry. Prices go up just before the PGA Tour event, but after that, you can enjoy some great fall golf.
Shenendoah, designed by Rick Smith and playing more than 7,100 yards, is popular with corporate groups. Like Atunyote, it is more links-style in character 'especially on the back nine ' with grasses, wide sweeps of fairways and behemoth bunkers. This is also not an easy track, but is less punishing than Kaluhyat. (Green fees $120-$150)
Sandstone Hollow also designed by Rick Smith, gets high marks from even low handicappers who find the layout challenging and fun and with green fees just $35 plus $10 for a cart per person, its a good deal.
Turning Stone has one of the finest practice areas in the country with multiple greens, bunkers, and a large driving range. The on-site Dave Pelz Scoring Game School offers one and three-day sessions throughout the season.
Rooms located over the Casino and the 19-story Tower are fairly large and beds and linens get high marks ' the large walk-in showers with two swivel shower heads add to the experience. For those seeking more space and luxury, The Lodge features suite accommodations with views of the courses. Some corner suites also have outdoor hot tubs.
Ska:na is one of the best spa facilities in the state with a huge Roman-style coed mineral pool, 12 treatment rooms, a VIP suite and a full range of services and treatments like the Ritual of the Standing Stones and a Sage and White Pine Hot Towel massage.
There are 11 places to eat and drink. I love the soft elegance of Pino Bianco, a fine Italian-style restaurant serving dishes like fresh trout almandine and lamb oreganata rack of lamb. Brazil is showcased at Rodizio where gauchos slice meats at your table with flair.
Turning Stone doesnt yet have a liquor license. The good news is you can bring your own. One evening we sat on the patio behind the Lodge overlooking the gardens and Chris, our server, brought us glasses, a bottle opener and a bucket of ice. We opened our Sterling Sauvignon Blanc, ordered a light dinner and watched the sun go down. Perfect.
On my first visit to Turning Stone, I saw some little guy wearing red sneakers, a golf cap and a tee shirt over his ample belly reading Sock it to Me. He was dragging a case of beer on luggage wheels through the lobby. Got to love it.
Golf Vacation Package: Play all three championship courses and enjoy a two-night stay ($635); Hotel PGA Package: Accommodation for one or two nights, free admissions to the tournament (from $235); Autumn Retreat: two nights accommodations at The Lodge, guided hike in the Adirondacks with lunch, and spa treatment. ($785 for two).

Katharine DysonKatharine Dyson is an award-winning freelance travel, lifestyle, golf and guidebook author based in the northeast.

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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”