Two of the best golfing states in the country are New York and Pennsylvania. On the return trip across these beauties, I was hitting the western halves of these states. Some serious golf gems lied in wait for me. I barely made it back into the state of New York before I was greeted by one of my favorite faces on the tour. It’s Gretchen The Doggo. One of my other favorite faces belongs to Klea Armstrong of Saratoga who gladly allowed the RGV Tour to park in her driveway for a couple of days.
Klea took the tour on a world class roundabout of Saratoga Springs. From golfing, to fudge eating, to hard core karaoke. The tour stop in Saratoga was a serious golf party. The golf courses included Saratoga Lakes, Saratoga National, and Glens Falls Country Club.
Saratoga also turns into a serious party town during race season and the season was in full swing. Klea and I put some bets on the local horse races with our favorite horse being Plink Freud. As It turns out, Pink Floyd puns are not a key indicator in horse racing success.
Glens Falls Country Club is an old Donald Ross design and as usual, the Ross man did not dissapoint. Klea however, did not drive the green on this par 4 and the group did voice our disappointment.
Joking aside, Klea and the fam were some of the most generous hosts that the tour has encountered to date. The hospitality was out of this world and the driveway was one of the finest driveways the RGV has parked in. Follow Klea on Instagram here.
After a stop in Saratoga that seriously felt like a break from the rigors of the road, it was time to march on and golf hard. That golfing started again at Binghamton Country Club. Binghamton is an under the radar Tillinghast track that was a bunch of fun to play. We also had a revisit from an old RGV Tour friend from Florida, Grant Gulick. I love it when we get people jumping back on the tour for more action. Grant is also one of the best golfers we have had out on tour, so it was nice to receive a friendly a$$ whipping.
Next on the agenda was a visit to Turning Stone Resort and Casino. Turning Stone has 5 golf courses available for public play and I took on 3 of them in one day. Atunyote, Kaluhyat, and Shenendoah were a bunch of fun to play. The resort is easily one of the best options for public golf in the state of New York.
A day of 36 at Oak Hill was what the RGV Tour had on the calendar next. After coordinating with Dan for several months, I was just as excited to meet the man behind the email as I was to see Oak Hill. Neither the course nor Dan would let me down. Joining in on the action was Olympic Hockey Goaltender, David Leggio.
We warmed up on the West course, but at Oak Hill, it’s the East course that really gets your golf juices flowing. The round started off with a couple of double bogies to really loosen up the vibe. Our group would eventually calm down and find the birdies. Afterwards, we devoured pizza after a great walk of 36.
Next up… Niagara freaking falls. I took a morning off of golf to visit the iconic waterfall. However, I did not attempt to drive a golf ball from the US to Canada like John Daly did back in 2005. It’s a 342 yard carry from the US to Canada and my tee ball only goes 330 on the fly.
Not every round of golf on The RGV Tour needs to take place on a Top 100 course. Some of the best rounds that I have played have been on unique and fun courses. This was the case for my afternoon in Buffalo. I met up with Patrick Eustace and we took on Bob O Links in the rain, the sun, the rain, and then the sun again. It must have rained off and on 12 times as we played the little par 3 course and had ourselves a golf riot!
As you can imagine, the buffalo wing debate in buffalo is serious business. The original spot is at The Anchor Bar, but Patrick insisted that Mammoser’s was the place to go. So we headed to Mammoser’s and ordered up a feast. They had some special going on and I must have eaten 45 buffalo wings. I won’t be able to tell you what the best buffalo wings in Buffalo are, but at Mammoser’s you will leave satisfied. I wiped my face and just like that the state of New York was in the history books.
Nothing says welcome to Pennsylvania quite like Fox Chapel Golf Club. But before I could even make it into the pro shop I ran into an old friend in the parking lot. It was John from the Golf Club and he was teeing off just in front of me. Naturally, we merged the tee times to create a power foursome! We golfed until the sunset and then told some lies in the cluhouse.
Fox Chapel is one of Seth Raynor’s best and I was immediately in golf heaven.
Just to the east of Pittsburgh you have another legendary walk at Laurel Valley Golf Club. Laurel Valley was a favorite of Arnold Palmer and I am always keen to follow The King. I ran into a caddy named Slim and I think we told more jokes and stories than I hit golf shots (I didn’t break 80.)
After an early morning tee time at Laurel Valley, I had an afternoon to burn, so I pulled up Google maps to see what was nearby. “Hmmm Sunnehanna, a lot of players have mentioned that, let’s do it.”
This is easily one of my favorite things to do on tour. I doubt I would have ever booked a trip just to play Sunnehanna but out on the road, this TIllinghast gem was a mandatory impromptu stop that afternoon.
At the beginning of the tour, I had my eye on Oakmont as one of the most anticipated rounds of the year. Unfortunately, I had failed to land any real solid leads on securing a tee time. As lead after lead fell through it looked like I would be leaving Pennsylvania Oakmont-less.
However, I am not one to grumble about such things and I had time for one last stop at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. The resort is named after Chief Nemacolin, which by all accounts has the world’s best glutes. I joined up with my man Slope for a day of 36 on the Mystic Rock and Shepherds Rock courses. It turns out Slope is a caddy at Oakmont.
As I quietly held out hope for Oakmont, I managed to get in a round at nearby Totteridge. It’s a public venue and a mighty fine one at that. Not only are these grass bunkers fun to look at, they are easy to play from, and less expensive to maintain!!
The picture below should tell you what happened next. Slope and I found our way out onto Oakmont. That smile is as good as it gets on the 18th tee. The course is every bit as good as you may have heard. It’s firm, fast, real tough, and real beautiful. Even with the expectations set on ridiculous, I was not let down one bit.
As I calmly ran in my par putt on 18, I left Pennsylvania with a big smile on my face. As we all know, there are 2 types of golfers in this world… those who have made par on 18 at Oakmont and those who have not. P.S. I have no idea how DJ made birdie to shoot -4 and win the 2016 US Open, no freaking idea.