Kaluhyat Golf Course Review

The First at Kaluhyat is a 530 yard par 5
The First at Kaluhyat is a 530 yard par 5

Kaluhyat Golf Club
Turning Stone Resort and Casino, New York

Grade: A
Teacher’s Comments: A thinking man’s course, ranked among the best golf courses in America.

A Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design, Kaluhyat will tax every golf resource you have at your disposal. Good ball striking and putting are not enough; players also must think about the intention of every shot.

As I believe that golf is a “thinking man’s” sport, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, even though I did not play particularly well. I loved standing on the tee, examining the yardage book and trying to decide where I wanted to put the ball. Even so, I made a lot of errors in my first playing of Kaluhyat. There are a lot of bad places to land a ball and I seemed to find more than my share of them. Conversely, there are a lot of great places well within reach of a relatively short hitter like myself. I would absolutely love a second chance at the course. I’m certain that I would better my score by ten shots.

Kaluhyat's twelfth is a 395 yard par 4
Kaluhyat’s twelfth is a 395 yard par 4

In many ways, Kaluhyat reminded me of the best of “Up North” Michigan courses. It plays through forest and marsh, over hills and across prairie. The holes are isolated, allowing golfers to believe — if only for a little while — that the cares of the outside world do not exist.

From the tips, Kaluhyat stretches to 7,105 yards and plays to a 75.5/150. The white tees, where I played, come in at 6,183 and play to a 70.9/132. The numbers are a bit deceptive, though. On a first playing I think it is much harder than the numbers suggest. As with most challenging courses, I suggest that players focus on fun and move up a tee.

While the fairways at Kaluhyat are wide, there is plenty of danger. I counted some 100 sand traps — many of substantial size and along the fairways. There are forced carries, either off the tee or from the fairways, on a majority of the holes. That’s another reason to pay attention to which tees you play.

The eighteenth at Kaluhyat is a 401 yard par 4
The eighteenth at Kaluhyat is a 401 yard par 4

It is hard for me to pick a favorite hole at Kaluhyat, as they are nearly all excellent. I did however, particularly like the eighteenth, Journey’s End. Measuring 401 yards from the tips, and 345 from the whites, it has a wide landing area that will catch all but the wildest tee shots. A play to the left side, however, gives the shortest route to the green, which is protected front, left and right by bunkers. What I like about this hole is that while there is no wrong way to play the tee shot, there clearly are some that better than others.

In 2015, Kaluhyat was ranked #71 on Golf Digest’s Top 100 courses. Among the other accolades it as received in recent years:

  • America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses – Golf Digest
  • Best Courses You Can Play In New York State – Golfweek
  • Top 100 Best Resort Courses – Golfweek
  • Best Courses In New York State – Golf Digest
  • Best New Course – Golf World

When playing Kaluhyat, it is worth paying attention to the stories on tee box signs and yardage book. These turn the course into a mystical journey through Oneida history, philosophy, culture and mythology. From the first hole:

As you start your journey on the Kaluhyat course, you might reflect on the Oneida creation story, which tells how th ejourney of people began with a woman who fell from the Other Side of the Sky. Her descendants are believed to have fashioned humans, animals and all things pleasant and unpleasant on this side of the sky.

Conditions on the day I played were outstanding. From tee to green the course was very well cared for, and worthy of its standing as a top 100 course.

Kaluhyat is part of the Turning Stone Resort and Casino, a terrific entertainment complex located just north of Syracuse, New York. It’s one of three eighteen hole courses on the property. The resort has eleven restaurants, twelve nightlife and lounge spots, three spas and fitness centers, and a theatre which brings in top talent. There are 268 rooms in the hotel and more in the adjacent “Lodge.” I stayed at the Lodge in a 550 square foot suite. Amazing.

The course is adjacent to the Lodge.

Every meal I ate at Turning Stone was excellent, as were the drinks. The staff from the front door of the hotel to the “cart girl” on the course were uniformly friendly and helpful. This would be a great place to take your significant other for a weekend excursion.

And oh, yeah: There’s gambling, too. I’ve never been to Las Vegas, so I can’t compare Turning Stone to that, but I can say that it is exponentially more impressive than other Indian casinos I’ve visited.

The Kaluhyat Golf Course Review was first published August 17, 2015.

More course photos below:

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