We’ve all heard of Romancing the Stone, right? Well, how about the other way around, where The Stone Romances You.
That’s exactly what happens at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino located on 3,400 acres of Oneida Indian Nation tribal lands in upstate New York between Utica and Syracuse.
What started out as a modest bingo hall operation in the mid 1980’s has now evolved into a AAA Four Diamond resort replete with upscale hotels, convention facilities, multiple restaurants, a 33,000 square foot spa and five golf courses, including three championship layouts and a monster indoor golf dome.
Oh, and they do have 120,000 square feet of world class gaming that includes 83 table games, 2,264 gaming machines and a very cool Poker Room with tables accommodating up to 320 players at multiple buy-in limits.
Everything at Turning Stone is done in a first class way down to the last detail including customer service. There is no better example of how they do things than in their golf courses.
The three championship layouts, Shenandoah, Atunyote and Kaluhyat are as good a trio of golf courses that you will find anywhere at any resort in the United States with the possible exceptions of Pebble Beach, Pinehurst and Bandon Dunes.
These three courses are not for the casual three times a year resort golfer. No, no, all three are the real deal as far as challenge is concerned. Better bring you’re ‘A’ game and be prepared to be tested in the process.
The Shenandoah Golf Club was designed by legendary instructor Rick Smith and opened in 2000. Shenandoah is named in honor of the Oneida tribal chief who was instrumental in the Oneida’s choice to side with the colonists in the Revolutionary War.
Of the three championship layouts Shenandoah would be considered more the resort type design with wide fairways and sizable greens. It can be played from 5,185 yards to the back tees of 7,129.
Because of the thousands of acres available to the tribe there is no housing on the golf courses and Shenandoah is a tapestry of tall fields of fescue grasses, sweeping open areas, deep woods and wetlands providing habitat for nearly 100 species of birds and scores of other wildlife. The environment is managed to stay welcoming to the wildlife as a Certified Audubon Signature Sanctuary.
Kaluhyat (ga-LU-yat) Golf Club (which means “the other side of the sky”) is a 2003 Robert Trent Jones Jr design that is quite a contrast to the other courses. It is a true shotmakers course that weaves in and out of the forested areas and offers a tremendous variety of environments. Turning left and right and around woodand, lakes, streams and wetland marshes, mixing narrow and open fairways, it makes you use every club in your bag. That is a cliché but it is true at Kaluhyat and you might wish you even had a couple more. This is a fascinating golf course experience which will make you want to go back out the next day to try it again.
The crown jewel at Turning Stone is the Atunyote (uh-DUNE-yote) Golf Club. Atunyote is an Oneida word meaning “eagle” the symbol for the entire resort.
Designed by legendary golf course architect Tom Fazio and opened in 2004, Atunyote served as the home of the Turning Stone Championship of the PGA Tour from 2007-2010 which had such notable champions as Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar.
The course is located several miles from the resort hidden behind an ornate metal sculpture gate and is reserved for the heavy hitters. Last year Atunyote hosted only 4,700 rounds and the resort is just fine with that. The course is kept in immaculate order with hand mown greens and surrounds and you will nary find a divot in a fairway. To say the conditions were “Augusta like” would not be too much of a stretch.
The golf course is on a gigantic scale with Fazio’s trademark wide fairways and huge undulating greens. The course winds through rock formations, a deadwood marsh, across streams, along waterfalls and around a 13 acre lake that is the site of the dramatic finishing hole.
The clubhouse is spectacular and the practice facilities are as good as it gets.
Turning Stone resort offers some pleasant golf options for the more recreational golfer in the Pleasant Knolls and Sandstone Hollow courses.
Pleasant Knolls is a relaxing stroll through nine holes- par 36 of wide fairways and gently rolling terrain. Sandstone Hollow is a par 3 course but not a pushover by any means. Designed by the same Rick Smith that laid out the Shenandoah course, Sandstone Hollow works it way through woods and wetlands with greens surrounded by native fescues and Sandstone Rock, which is found only on Oneida lands.
For off season or inclement weather or just controlled environment situations there is the indoor Golf Dome. Measuring 330 feet long, 240 feet wide and 75 feet high, the Dome is the off season home of the Turning Stone Golf Academy.
The Dome is home to an array of the latest high-tech teaching tools such as TLIGHT Scope, a Doppler system that tracks every component of the player’s swing, a computerized swing analyzer that provides players with instant feedback on swing speed, launch angle, carry and total distance. The VC Video compares your swing with notable PGA Tour players swings if you can stand that.
If you want to play a “golf course” while at the Dome you have your choice of 38 of the world’s best courses on the golf simulator.
Accommodations come in every stripe and option at Tuning Stone from an RV park, to The Inn at Turning Stone, an off campus moderately priced hotel to the on campus Hotel at Turning Stone with 268 guest rooms including 28 suites that were all renovated in 2010, to the 19 story Tower at Turning Stone which has achieved AAA Four Diamond status the last four years to the gorgeous Lodge at Turning Stone, a 95 room all-suite hotel adjacent to the Shenandoah clubhouse.
When it is time for a little pampering for you and your honey, Turning Stone takes a back seat to no one.
The Skana Spa opened in 2006 and is a 33,000 square foot destination spa with American Indian design influences. With 12 treatment rooms, a full service salon, sauna, steam rooms and a whirlpool therapeutic mineral pool you will find it all inside the walls at Skana. It was recently named among the best spas in the world by Spa Magazine.
The Ahsi Day Spa offers massages, body treatments, hairstyling, pedicures, manicures and custom makeup.
The entertainment options abound at The Stone as well. The Showroom is an intimate cabaret style venue that features musical acts, comedy acts and full scale musicals. The Event Center is the concert arena with seating for 5,000.
Some of the name acts that have graced the stages at Turning Stone include Crosby, Stills and Nash, Black Eyed Peas, Dolly Parton, Toby Keith, Rascal Flats and jokesters Jay Leno, Ron White, Larry The Cable Guy and Weird Al Yankovic.
If you are ready for The Stone to Romance You head out to Turning Stone Resort and Casino in beautiful upstate New York and let it all happen for you right there.
Call 800-771-7711 or log on to turningstone.comWHAT'S YOUR REACTION?