Turning Stone Resort continues to improve with age
By Philip Sokol
Director of Operations
Verona, NY (Sports Network) -
The last time the words "Sure Thing" were uttered, John Cusack was attempting to score with the smoking hot Nicollette Sheridan in the 1985 comedy "The Sure Thing," directed by Rob Reiner.
The same can be said of the Oneida Indian Nation's Turning Stone Resort and Casino, just 30 minutes east of Syracuse, NY.
The resort opened its doors in 1993 and has evolved into one of the most sought-after destinations in the United States.
The Clubhouse at Shenandoah.
Known for being a casino hotspot when it first started, Turning Stone is now famous for many other attractive offerings.
First and foremost, golf is now one of the most popular temptations at the resort.
Not only are all three of the courses rated in the Top 15 in the state of New York by GolfWeek magazine, but both Atunyote (uh-DUNE-yote) and Kaluhyat (ga- LU-yat) are ranked by Golf Digest in the Top 100 of "America's Greatest Public Golf Courses." High praise indeed.
In addition to these two tracts, Shenendoah Golf Club, the first 18-hole layout at the resort which opened in 2000, was designed by legendary golf instructor Rick Smith.
Although some believe that Shenendoah is the easiest of the three, with its generous fairways and large green complexes, don't be fooled, as this layout can be stretched to over 7,100 yards and boasts a rating of 75.1.
What you should believe is that this course, named in honor of the tribal chief who was instrumental in the Oneida Indians' choice to side with the colonists during the Revolutionary War, is one of the prettiest and environmentally friendly courses you'll ever want to play.
The Tower at Turning Stone.
Next in the rotation was Kaluhyat, which was crafted by Robert Trent Jones Jr. in 2003, means "the other side of the sky." Topping out at 7,105 yards from the black markers, Kaluhyat features the highest slope rating of the three courses at 150, which is higher than Bethpage Black.
Another beautiful course, Kaluhyat features plenty of water, wetlands and, surprisingly, elevation changes, and it will most certainly require the use of every club in your bag.
The final course of the trio, Atunyote Golf Club, is also the most publicized. Brilliant course designer Tom Fazio was given the task of creating this venue and he did not disappoint.
Atunyote, which means "eagle," opened its doors in the summer of 2004 and has been rising the charts on everyone's list ever since.
Ranked 25th in the state and 76th in the United States, Atunyote hosted the PGA Tour for five years and has been the annual stop for the Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge.
The front gate to Atunyote Golf Club.
The longest of the three courses at almost 7,500 yards, Atunyote boasts a course rating of 75.6. Despite its more-than-spacious fairways, this course features a wide variety of green sizes and shapes, and several dramatic holes. In fact, the final hole runs alongside a 13-acre lake, bending upward toward the majestic clubhouse.
Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar are just two of the past winners at Turning Stone, but it was Michael Allen who tamed this great layout, setting a then- course record of 63 during the 2006 B.C. Open. Peter Lonard carded the same number in 2009 and when the Turning Stone Resort Championship was last held in 2010, J.J. Henry, Jonathan Byrd, Charles Warren and Chris Couch equaled that amazing total.
Director of Golf Services Robert "RT" Todd said it best: "The course conditions are the best I have seen, and the layouts are challenging yet beautiful."
What puts Turning Stone over the top as a golf destination are its other amenities.
For the younger sect and not as experienced player, Pleasant Knolls is a nine- hole, par-36 course and a par-3 layout, Sandstone Hollow is also available.
Todd added, "With five courses, there is truly a course fit for every golfer at any ability. It's great to see the enjoyment true golf enthusiasts have when they test themselves on these courses."
Your stay at Turning Stone must include overnight accommodations at The Lodge.
But, it's The Golf Dome at Turning Stone that hits the spot.
This indoor practice facility is open year-round and features 40 hitting stalls, a practice green, a real-sand bunker and chipping area, full-swing golf simulators and, of course, a bevy of instruction. Heck, it's 79,200 square feet and rises seven stories high.
Hosting more than 4.5 million guests each year, Turning Stone now encompasses 3,400 acres. From the Villages at Turning Stone to the magnificent Lodge at Turning Stone, the resort has over 700 rooms at its disposal.
Not one, but two spas are available to all guests. Skana, which means "peace," is located at the Lodge and decorated in an American Indian theme, while Ahsi (awaken) is a full-service salon/spa situated near the casino.
What puts Turning Stone over the top is food and entertainment.
There's Italian (Pino Bianco), which includes a wood-burning pizza oven, Asian/Thai cuisine (Peach Blossom), your not-so typical buffet, Wildflowers, a AAA Four Diamond-rated restaurant and my favorite, Rodizio Churrascaria, a Brazilian steakhouse.
Golf is now one of the most popular temptations at the resort.
Picture a culinary specialist coming to your table, carving Prime Rib, Pork Loin and Spare Ribs, not to mention ample portions of roasted chicken, salmon and Portuguese sausage. That's what I'm talking about.
It's the entertainment that takes the cake. The ultimate showplace. Baby boomers will love seeing Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire, Peter Frampton and The Doobie Brothers. For the younger sect, the Black Eyed Peas, Josh Groban and Mariah Carey have performed and for your country fans, Keith Urban, Martina McBride and Rascal Flatts have graced the resort. Even funny men Jay Leno, Sinbad, Lewis Black and Cedric the Entertainer have made thousands laugh.
Oh, and by the way, a full-blown casino is at your dispense. That's right, 120,000 square feet of gaming at its best. Blackjack, Craps, Poker, Roulette, Texas Hold'Em, slot machines and, of course, the Money Wheel.
So if you thought that Ms. Sheridan was a "Sure Thing," well you need to make a trip to Turning Stone and experience it for yourself.