Ulster County Golf: So Much To Offer, Just a Short Drive Away
By Richard Skelly
Looking for a short get away that is close to home? Look no further than Ulster County, New York, home to twelve public and semi-private layouts, many well-know ski resorts, and a wide array of beautiful wildlife. And, if you’re a music fan, Ulster County is also home to the Woodstock Museum – which commemorates the legendary rock festival and the spirit behind it—and Levon Helm’s legendary “Midnight
Ramble” concerts, which he hosts in his home studio in Woodstock.
The downtown areas of Woodstock, Kingston and New Paltz, all offer unique shopping areas, in the event you are travelling with non-golfers. There are lots of other non-golf-related things to do in thesedowntowns as well. In winter, there are several ski trails near all the bigger towns, plus over 6,000 skiable acres at Frost Valley, in Claryville.
“What makes golf in Ulster County appealing it is affordable. At the golf course, there’s literally no waiting times at any of our dozen daily-fee golf courses,” explains Ulster County Director of TourismRick Remsnyder, himself an avid, skilled intermediate golfer.
“We have golfers who drive here from all parts of New Jersey and New York who find that our greens fees are half what they may pay at home and our courses are beautiful, offering varied scenery. To them, it’s worth the drive,” he explained over our rain-shortened match at Apple Greens, a sprawling, 27-hole facility set, not surprisingly, in an equally sprawling apple orchard.
Remsnyder points out that Ulster County is larger than the state of Rhode Island, very historic and with a population of just 190,000 people. It encompasses three exits on the New York State Thruway, each spaced about 18 to 20 miles apart, south to north: New Paltz, Kingston, [near Woodstock,] and Saugerties. The largest city is Kingston, which has about 30,000 residents, he said, and New Paltz, with its famed [French] Huguenot Street, advertises itself as one of the oldest towns in North America, with stone houses dating back to the early 1700’s.
Aside from Apple Greens, other golf courses in Ulster County include Rondout Golf Club, the Hudson Valley Resort, Shawangunk CC, and the newly-built Lazy Swan Golf and Country Club. All of these facilities are 18 holes. But the county also sports an unusual abundance of quality 9-hole, regulation-length facilities: the historic Mohonk Mountain House Golf Course, the Fallsview Golf Course at Honor’s Haven Resort, the Alapaha Golf Links, Green Acres Golf Club, New Paltz Golf Course and Stone Dock Golf Club, among others.
“There’s been a move underway at some of these facilities to expand them to 18 holes,” Remsnyder noted, adding Mohonk Mountain is a semi-private facility where 9 holes were closed because the terrain was too mountainous. It’s likely the oldest golf course in Ulster County is either the Mohonk Mountain Club course or the Twaalfskil Golf Club in Kingston, which may be just a few years older than Mohonk.
“There are no courses here that offer views of the Hudson River,” Remsnyder explained, “but we’ve got great views of mountains and valleys here. There have been development companies that have come in and talked about building golf courses and resorts along the Hudson, but it hasn’t happened as of this point,” he added.
Besides the golf and ski attraction, does music draw tourists? “Between the Woodstock Museum and Levon Helm’s Rambles, we do have a lot that is of interest to music fans,” Remsnyder said, “And if they’re music fans who also play golf or ski, so much the better. No doubt there’s a connection. Levon Helm’s not a golfer, but his rambles do draw a lot of people who play golf, and it’s a natural connection.”
Although Woodstock Country Club is a private 9-hole facility, the nearby Bearsville Theater offers concerts on a regular basis throughout the year, he pointed out.
“And there are a lot of great restaurants and retro shops in the village of Woodstock, itself.” Based upon playing Apple Greens in Highland, N.Y., if you like golf courses with hills, you’ll have fun with many of the courses in Ulster County. While the new 9 holes across the street from the original 18 holes at Apple Greens is not suitable for walking, you can walk the original 18-hole layout easily enough. If you are walking, you’ll get a suitable workout, as a number of holes here have 12 and 15 degree upgrades or downgrades. The 10th hole at Apple Greens is especially memorable for the large expanse of water in front of the tee that golfers must clear or avoid by playing to the right. Golfers hit here to an apple shaped 10th green. Many of the greens here sit on plateaus and are cleverly bunkered, and there are plenty of streams and ponds around the course to keep things interesting.
In 2012, a second nine opened at the Lazy Swan Golf and Country Club Village in Saugerties, N.Y., and that facility is just five minutes off the New York State Thruway. Lazy Swan offers a walking route with hills, reflecting ponds, rock outcroppings and scenic views of the Catskill Mountains.
There are numerous motels and quaint bed and breakfasts to stay. The Hampton Inn or any of the other hotels in downtown Kingston make a good place to base yourself and your foursome for a few days while you make your way up and down the New York State Thruway.
For more information on the wealth of golfing opportunities available less than two hours’ drive from northern New Jersey, point your web browser to: www.ulstercountyalive.com or www.newyorkstategolfersguide.com. You can also order information via mail by calling (800) DIAL–UCO.
Richard Skelly is a freelance writer, based in Spotswood, NJ. He writes for several golf publications and also has a weekly music column in the Asbury Park Press. He hosts blues music program every Thursday night on the Rutgers radio station.
PRINTED WITH RIGHTS FROM Golfer’s Tee Times and www.njgolfnews.com