Links at Hiawatha Landing
The Links at Hiawatha Landing is like so many courses that use the word 'links', it is more accurately called a heathland design. It doesn't have the geography (close to the sea) to be a true links course, but it is an outstanding track. If you didn't bring your thinking cap, you're probably in for a long day. If you employ some good judgment and discretion along the way, you're likely to shoot a decent score.
Several ponds on the course are used to great affect. The 18th is a great example of what all closing holes should be, equal parts danger and opportunity. The par-5 swings left around a large pond. The safe route is a fairway wood or long iron straight off the tee. But if you need that final hole birdie, you'll probably look to cut the corner of the pond. That can shorten the hole to give you a chance to get home in two or dump you in the water and a chance to post an ugly digit.
Course architects Brian Silva and Mark Mungeam have created a par-72 layout that requires you to make shots and think your way around to score. There are no blind shots and no forced carries, so the less accomplished player can also get around without too much damage to their pride or scorecard.
The Links at Hiawatha Landing allows you to dial in the distance from which you are most comfortable. There are five sets of tees. The tips stretch the course to over 7,000 yards. The front tees shorten it to 5,100. The middle tees play to 6,200 yards with a slope of 121 and course rating of 69.6.
The Links at Hiawatha Landing is in Apalachin, Tioga County, N.Y. It's a 20-minute ride west of Binghamton off Route 17. Exit 17 at Apalachin and make a right onto Route 434. Go a mile and a half before turning right onto Marshland Rd. You'll drive another mile before coming to the course.
Where to Stay
The Links at Hiawatha Landing has stay and play agreements with four local motels. Call (800) 30GOLF3 to find out about packages at the Binghamton Regency, Holiday Inn Arena, Kings Inn and Owego Treadway Inn.
Where to Dine
Your options are few if you stay close to the course. Better to head east toward Binghamton on Route 17. Before you get there, exit at the town of Vestal. Among your choices there is the Kampai Japanese Steakhouse on Jensen Rd (607) 798-7521 or the Phoenician on the Vestal Parkway (607) 729-9447.
Since you've stopped there to eat, might as well check out a few things in the town of Vestal. The Vestal Museum on the Vestal Parkway can provide a overview of the region 's history. More info at (607) 748-1432. Also in Vestal is one of the largest observatories open to the public in the Northeast. The Kopernik Space Education Center/Observatory can provide some entertainment and education.
The Links at Hiawatha Landing is generally ranked among the best public courses in New York. That ranking is well deserved. I'm not generally a fan of heathland style courses. I think there are too many of them and they often seem plunked down where there is some open ground. This course is different. The design team of Silva and Mungeam has created a layout that's playable for the novice, challenging for the accomplished golfer and makes everyone think their way around if they hope to shoot a good score. It's a course that's worth going out of your way to play. Because it's not located near a metropolitan area the greens fees are very reasonable.