Conklin Players Club
Rob Serling, creator of "The Twilight Zone" grew up in Binghamton, New York. As host of that popular 60s TV show he told views to prepare to enter another dimension. Now, just south of Sterling's hometown in the small berg of Conklin, golfers can prepare to enter another dimension. This one much more inviting than the places Sterling created in his mind, this one is called Conklin Players Club.
Conklin Players Club is one of those courses that defines the term, hidden gem. It's in a small town, hasn't gotten much pub and was designed by Rick Rickard, who's not a household name in the golf architecture business. But the course is special and definitely worth your time and money to seek out and play.
The course combines the use of water, dramatic elevation changes and TLC to provide some fantastic holes and some awesome vistas to go along with it. The course plays up and down the side of a hill. That, in combination with a series of small ponds and a 10-acre lake make for some outstanding golf.
The up and down nature of the course does a couple of things. It makes it almost impossible to walk unless you're in remarkably good shape and it makes the distances on the scorecard irrelevant. Take the 16th and 17th holes. The 340-yard 16th plays just as long as the 402 yard 17th because the shorter hole climbs steeply uphill, while the longer tumbles down the hill.
Water also presents its challenges at Conklin Players Club. Nowhere more than the par-4 8th hole. There the lake tempts you to cutoff as much of the dogleg right as you can. Having a short iron in your hands will help because the lake is still in play on the approach.
The par-3 10th is another where water comes into play. A pond surrounds the green on three sides. Here the water is more visually intimidating than actually threatening. The hole is very short and the green has rough all the way around it before the water comes into play. It's a short shot and room for error, but even with a wedge in your hand sometimes the visual can be unnerving.
The Conklin Players Club is never dull, but that doesn't mean it's for everyone. High handicappers will likely struggle and some traditionalists might think the elevation changes are a bit overdone.
From the tips the course plays 6,772 yards. From the front tees it plays 4,699. The middle tees play to 6,128 yards with a 121 slope and rating of 69.5. But again, remember those distances are relative to the up and down play from hole to hole.
The Conklin Players Club is in Conklin, Broome County, N.Y. just a 15-minute drive south of Binghamton. From I-81 south take the Kirkwood-Conklin exit make a right off the ramp. At the first traffic light make a left onto Route 7 and the course will be about a mile on the right.
Where to Stay
The Colonial Brick Motel is just down the road and offers a stay and play package. Call (800) 290-3922 for more information. If you prefer the B&B experience call the Larrabee Bed and Breakfast in Conklin at (607) 775-1304.
Where to Dine
Take the short drive to Binghamton for more options. The Bulls Head Restaurant on Front St. (607) 723-7331 and Number 5 on S. Washington St. (607) 723-0555 are a couple of possibilities.
The Roberson Museum and Science Center on Front St. in Binghamton is touted as a nationally recognized interactive museum. It's also rumored to be haunted! (no doubt delighting Mr. Serling, where ever he may be). Binghamton also has a neat little zoo, The Ross Park Zoo and Carousel Exhibit (Broome County is known as the Carousel Capitol of the World). More info at rossparkzoo.com.
Find the Conklin Players Club and play it! The course has lots of interesting holes, it's kept in good shape and you definitely will not be bored. Playing it a second time will certainly improve your chances of scoring. The elevation changes are tough on first time players and knowing where to place your shots is a big help in certain holes. There are some scary shots, but most golfers are going to enjoy this 'other dimension'.