McConnellsville Golf Club is an unsung jewel in Oneida County, N.Y.
MCCONNELLSVILLE, N.Y. -- The McConnell and Charboneau farms, just north of the eastern end of Oneida Lake in central New York, were merged in 1941 to create a nine-hole golf course, while the Charboneau Farmhouse was converted into the Club House for the new McConnellsville Golf Club.
The golf course was another project undertaken by the Harden family, founders of a furniture company and one of the area's main employers. Another local company, Camden Wire Co. (International Wire), also helped with the financing.
As five generations of the Hardens expanded their furniture operations in the Oneida County area, the family continued to give back to the community, building churches, a community center, a post office, fire department and homes. Today as you play McConnellsville, note the lovely residences along the fairways, many occupied by Harden employees. The Hardens acquired 65 acres of land adjacent to the course in 1967, allowing them to build another nine holes designed by Pete Grygiel and Frank Clark.
McConnellsville has aged gracefully over the years; its tight tree-lined fairways climb and dip over the rolling countryside from the first hole to the last, a long par 5 uphill. It is fitting that one of the loveliest aspects of McConnellsville is the tall stands of trees. Practicing sound sustainability throughout its history, wood for Harden furniture is harvested from its own 10,000-acre woodlands, and the company maintains a Forestry Division on site.
McConnellsville is recognized as one of the better values in the region, not only for the quality of its layout but also for its affordable green fees.
"I play McConnellsville whenever I can," area golfer Stephen Shewburgh said "It's not that long but greens can be tricky and there are some tight holes. It holds my interest for sure. "
Brian Netti, the head professional at McConnellsville, agrees.
"One of my favorite holes is no. 16," Netti said. "At 455 yards, this long par 4 is a challenge with a wide fairway sweeping around trees to the right."
Netti also likes the 13th hole.
"It's a good risk-and reward test," he said. "A dogleg to the right, it's all about positioning. If you try to cut the corner too finely on your second shot, you'll be shut out by the trees."
Another risk-and-reward challenge is hole no. 10, a sharp dogleg right down the hill around trees. There are also some pretty sweet par 3s like hole no. 7, hitting up to a green set atop the hill. The par-3 11th requires you carry a pond protecting the green while a creek running on either side gives you no safe roll-up approach.
Bunkers protect and tease throughout McConnellsville. For example, the par-4 sixth hole narrows to open to a two-tiered green totally surrounded by bunkers.
There are some blind holes, too. You most likely will score better the second time you play the course once you know where you're going. For example, after your drive on the uphill finishing hole, unless you drive ahead up hill and take a peek, you will not be sure where to hit your second shot.
Since 1991 the membership in this semi-private track has contributed annually to course improvements like enlarging tees, renovated greens, improvements at the club house and installation of drainage and tee-to-green watering systems.
The restaurant offers a selection of sandwiches, salads, burgers and dogs with all the trimmings. At the turn, for a quick bite, hot Hoffman hot dogs are on tap in the barroom.
McConnellsville Golf Club: The verdict
If you enjoy traditional style courses with tall stands of maples -- especially dramatic in the fall -- McConnellsville G.C. is a good bet. Although the bunkers and the tee boxes could benefit from a little TLC, considering the flooding conditions the course endured early in the spring 2013 it was in pretty good shape not too long after the water subsided. Relatively unsung outside the perimeters of central New York, this is a course worth playing.
September 17, 2013