For its relatively rustic setting, the Southern Tier has a remarkable collection of close to 20 superb public golf courses flowing over a landscape of rolling hills, ravines, forests, rivers and lakes. Most courses are located in the eastern part of the region.
Highly rated tracks include the Conklin Players Club that opened in 1991 getting high marks for its bentgrass greens, tees and fairways; Ely Park Golf Course set on the top of a mountain; and Endwell Greens Golf Club in Endicott.
Set along the Susquehanna in Apalachin, The Links at Hiawatha Landing, designed by Brian Silva and Mark Mungeam, is characterized by ornamental grasses and sweeping bunkers and for beautiful lake views there is Ford Hill Club Golf Course overlooking the Whitney Point Reservoir.
En-Joie Golf Club, dating from 1927 when the cost of a round was $.25, was renovated in 1998 by Michael Hurdzan with large elevated greens and big bunker complexes. En-Joie has been the venue for PGA's BC Open and most recently for Dick's Sporting Goods Open, a Champions Tour stop.
As you travel through the Southern Tier, you'll notice names like Genesee and Owego that are derived from the Iroquois who once dominated the area. The arrival of railroads brought prosperity to the region but the economy eventually slowed. Still some places have remained strong such as Corning thanks to the Corning Museum of Glass and Binghamton, the largest city in the Southern Tier and Owego on the banks of the Susquehanna, cities that are reinventing themselves.
For pure Americana, go to Owego -- voted the "coolest small town in America" (Budget Magazine 2009) -- and check out Binghamton's ornate six-story Kimmer Building. Former headquarters for "Swamp Root" during the early 1900s, the building is now home to a bistro-style restaurant and The Goldsmith, an upscale retailer selling an amazing collection of hand-crafted and designer jewelry and gifts presented in a burnished classy space.
Fans of Huck Finn and Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) should visit Elmira where the famous author spent his summers. Just overlook that he derided golf as "a good walk spoiled," and tour his library located on the Elmira College campus
As the farm-to-table movement grows in the Southern Tier, farmers markets thrive here during the summer, and breweries like Southern Tier Brewing Company are producing some very fine craft beers. Like wine? More than 100 wineries are just to the north in the Finger Lakes.
Stay in one of the chain hotels, a B&B or an inn. Some are located adjacent to golf courses like the well equipped Bass Cabins nestled along the fairways of French Woods Golf Course in Hancock; The Inn at Endwell Greens and the Farmhouse in Endicott, next to Endwell Greens Golf Course; and Traditions at the Glen Resort and Conference Center with a classic layout by John Van Kleek, a spa and a 41-room hotel and event center.
In the Southern Tier, golf is good, it's affordable and you don't have to know the owner to get a tee time.
En-Joie Golf Club is a municipal golf course owned and operated by the town of Endicott, New York. In many ways its like other munis, very reasonable green fees and as a result lots of play. But En-Joie is unlike almost all other munis in that it hosts a PGA tour event!
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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.
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The Mark Twain Golf Course in Elmira, NY represents the intersection of two great men who were arguably the best in their respective fields. The course is named for perhaps the greatest American writer. Scottish born Donald Ross, architect of some of this country's greatest courses, designed it.
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