As we sat eating the quite distinguished buffet lunch at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, N.Y., late Thursday morning, KP and I made the final decision.
Despite the 2:20 tee time set at the start of the week at beautiful resort course Shenandoah, the eldest of the three Turning Stone pro-tournament-worthy layouts, we were going to to take this chapter of our season-long tour of Central New York to the complex’s little-talked about nine-hole, par-three course, Sandstone Hollow.
Paula answered KP’s phone call over there and said come on over. We canceled the tee time at Shenandoah.
Radar and weather forecasts looked dire.
I’d booked the 2:20 p.m. starting time because 2 p.m. is the cutoff for what Turning Stone considers “twilight hour,” when the greens fee drops from $150 to $100 per golfer.
On Christmas Day, my last gift was a card handed to me by my dear wife Karen. It was for an ungodly amount, and her kiss carried the words, “This is so you and KP can play one of those beautiful and expensive Turning Stone courses and eat a meal up there.”
She’d given me so much that I’d already used it for two meals for Karen and I this year, a lunch at the great buffet, and a breakfast at the diner. Yes, this Native American-owned entertainment center has restaurants and nightclubs as well as the golf courses and indoor driving range and tennis courts, a 5,000-seat arena, a 680-seat showroom … and the gaming floors.
Think Las Vegas or Atlantic City off the New York State Thruway.
The powers that be take care of their four golf courses as if people come from all over the world to play them.
Sandstone Hollow is as pristine as the big three.
Except that it costs $20 per golfer to traverse it’s nine par-three holes, and that includes the very modern riding cart.
And it takes way less time to play. Perhaps we’d even beat that coming storm.
We took five minutes to warmup up on the practice putting green, stretched, loosened up, swung the club a time or three.
The first-up tee spin landed at KP.
He hit his iron at the 150-yard opening hole at the pin. I mean, right at the pin. “Go in,” I yelled. Daylight remained between the ball and hole. He didn’t think it was that close.
I hit my iron flush, but a bit to the right. No yelling. I was happy.
We drove to the green, and the closer we got, the better KP’s shot looked. His ball was four inches past the cup.
I applauded. I was there when he recorded his other hole-in-one, some 20 years ago. I’ve got a goose egg in that category.
My ball was about four or five feet to the right of the hole. Putting first, I drained it for birdie.
KP tapped it in for his two.
All square heading to the second tee.
Our round had been made already.
The next seven holes were a series of good shots, fair shots, and our usual shots. No more birdies were to be had, but we each scored several more 3s on our card. Libbon shot a bit better than me.
On the eighth hole, it began to rain. The sky was darkening. We heard thunder. The thunder began getting obviously closer as we went from tee to green.
As KP stood on the ninth and final tee, Paula at the starting house blew the horn that signaled all golfers should return from the course because lightning was close enough to be considered a danger.
We jumped in the cart and were extremely happy with our eight holes at Sandstone Hollow.
Here’s the link to Turning Stone’s Sandstone Hollow course, with easy clicks to the big three.
Have you ever played a nine-hole, par-three course to save time? Do you wish there was such a type of course where you lived? How do you think you’d play on a course that held a PGA golf tournament?