Sycracuse and the Finger Lakes
The Finger Lakes is a place where unexpected discoveries abound. For instance, fly into Syracuse Hancock International, then make the scenic fifty-mile loop around Keuka Lake on Route 54A, with dozens of possible stops at wineries, farm stands and antique shops along the way. Or check out a town like Skaneateles, once a bit down at the heel, now a thriving summer destination with outdoor concerts and a lively downtown. The natural setting, of course, is also a significant draw; these are some of the cleanest lakes in America.
Where to Play
Turning Stone Resort & Casino, kaluhyat Golf Club
Much has been made of the mutual attraction between golf and gaming, but seldom has the relationship seemed so linear as at Turning Stone, operated by the Oneida Indian Nation in Verona, about thirty miles east of Syracuse. Opened in 1993, the resort now offers seventy-two holes, including three eighteens that are as good as any in the region. The first of these was Shenendoah Golf Club, designed by Rick Smith. Alternating between forest and meadowland, Shenendoah conforms to the formula for resort-course design. But the second layout, Kaluhyat (pronounced "gah-LOO-yut," an Oneida word meaning "the other side of the sky"), is a strapping test that slopes out at 146 from the back tees. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., it is slightly shorter than Shenendoah but is also tighter and hillier.
5218 Patrick Road, Verona. Architect: Robert Trent Jones Jr., 2003. Yardage: 7,105. Par: 72. Slope: 146. Greens Fees: $95–$140. Contact: 800-771-7711, turningstone.com.
Turning Stone Resort & Casino, Atunyote Golf Club
Atunyote (pronounced "uh-DUNE-yote" and meaning "eagle") is Turning Stone's most recent addition. The contours of its grassland setting can be reminiscent of designer Tom Fazio's work in Florida: vast open spaces punctuated by artful bunkering and adroitly deployed water features. Good fun for average players, it can also be made challenging enough to host a PGA Tour event, which it will later this month.
5218 Patrick Road, Verona. Architect: Tom Fazio, 2004. Yardage: 7,315. Par: 72. Slope: 140. Greens Fees: $175–$225. Contact: 800-771-7711, turningstone.com.
Best of the Rest
Cornell alum Robert Trent Jones Sr. made his mark on the Finger Lakes, designing strong courses for his alma mater (open only to those connected in some way to the field of education) as well as Colgate University's Seven Oaks Golf Course (seven oaks.colgate.edu), which is just down the road in Hamilton and open to the public. For one more crack at a Trent Jones design, try Bristol Harbour Resort (bristol harbour.com) on Lake Canandaigua.
Where to Stay
The Lodge at Turning Stone This all-suite hotel boasts such luxuries as private balconies with four-person hot tubs. If you're feeling lucky, the casino is a short walk away, or cleanse your body and spirit in an authentic sweat-lodge experience at the resort's award-winning Skaná spa.
5218 Patrick Road, Verona. Suites: from $295. Contact: 800-771-7711, thelodge.travel.
The Sherwood Inn Built as a stagecoach stop in 1807, this cozy inn's guest rooms are decorated in period style but also offer modern amenities like whirlpool tubs. The Tavern downstairs features live music on Saturday nights and is great for a casual pint.
26 West Genesee Street, Skaneateles. Rooms: from $130. Contact: 800-374-3796, thesher woodinn.com.
Where to Eat
Bluewater Grill (American) This restaurant in the center of town offers indoor and outdoor seating and a convivial atmosphere.
11 West Genesee Street, Skaneateles; 315-685-6600. $$
Wildflowers (Continental) Turning Stone's fine-dining experience is driven by its seasonal menu. Try one of the specialty dishes prepared tableside, such as the flambé filet in mushroom red wine sauce.
Turning Stone Resort & Casino, Verona; turn ingstone.com. $$$$