Northeast Golf Travel: Three New York Destinations for Your Next Buddies Trip
By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
Bethpage State Park's Black Course.
Take a look at the top golf courses in the U.S. and you’ll be surprised to see how many of them are in New York State. Of course, you’ve heard of the stellar private clubs of Long Island and Westchester County, but did you know that there are vacation areas and resorts in the state that have golfers traveling from hundreds of miles away?
Here are three great buddy trips to put on your agenda:
Bethpage State Park
Bethpage State Park is located in Farmingdale, New York, in Long Island’s Nassau County. On the grounds are five great championship golf courses — 90 holes of golf that will fill the needs of any buddy group.
Playing the courses of Bethpage Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, and Black is an experience that goes beyond the scores on the card after the round, too.
Bethpage Black, designed by famed architect A.W. Tillinghast, is a destination for golfers from all over the world. Host of the 2002 and '09 U.S. Opens, the 2012 and '16 Barclays, the 2019 PGA Championship and, coming soon, the 2025 Ryder Cup, eager golfers sleep overnight in the Bethpage Black parking lot to be able to check it off their golf bucket list and say they’ve played the Black Course.
With all the holes available at Bethpage, you’d think tee times would be easy to come by. But this is Long Island, just east of New York City. People travel from upstate and out of state to play the renowned links, especially the Black Course, so good luck nabbing a tee time online. Here’s what you do instead:
Pick a day that you want to play and show up in the afternoon the day before. Depending upon what time you show up, you may have to get in line behind other cars that might have beaten you there. Now, settle in for the night. The Farmingdale area is chock full of places to eat, and thanks to Doordash, GrubHub and Uber Eats, the food will come to you. After all, you can’t leave! The range is open. The putting green is available. There’s room in the parking lot for tents, frisbee, and the coolest vibe you’ve been around in a long time!
You’ll awake at 4:30 or 5 a.m. (depending on time of year) the next morning to get a ticket, which you’ll take to the tee time office to book your course and time. At that point, you can go out, grab a good Long Island breakfast, and return for some of the best golf you’ll ever experience.
Before you head out for your morning round, however, make sure to secure a tee time for your afternoon round. Play the same course twice or test your skills on another one. Either way, you can’t go wrong. And the next time you see Rory take a bogey on a hole, maybe you can say you parred that one!
Lake George/Saratoga Area
Lake George, New York, is known for its water activities and scenic views. There’s a quaint village to walk around with shops and restaurants, and a family vacation atmosphere for all to enjoy. Nearby Saratoga is known for its famous battle in the Revolutionary War and world-class horse racing every August.
Also popular in this beautiful area of New York State is some excellent golf. Here are two courses that just might have you coming back year after year:
McGregor Links Country Club
Less than a half hour from Lake George is McGregor Links Country Club, a semi-private facility in nearby Wilton, New York.
Designed by New York native Devereux Emmet — who by the way, also designed the Green Course at Bethpage State Park — McGregor has 18 championship holes and a golf shop that is owned and operated by PGA Professional Michael Decker. You can take a lesson, enjoy a meal or just get a round of golf in before heading out on the lake.
Take a virtual tour of McGregor Links Country Club here.
Saratoga National Golf Club
Just ten minutes away from McGregor Links is Saratoga National Golf Club in Saratoga Springs, New York. Considered a premier golf course in Upstate New York, you’ll want to secure your tee times as early as possible to ensure you don't miss out on this gem.
You’ll enjoy an award-winning golf shop, golf instruction that will improve anyone’s game, and dining services that will ensure you leave happy, regardless of the big number on your scorecard.
At Saratoga, you’ll meet multi-year Northeastern New York PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year Peter Tavarez, and much acclaimed PGA Teaching Professional, Robert Cain. One will help you look good, while the other improves your swing.
Access the Saratoga National Golf Club website for a video tour of each and every hole.
Turning Stone Resort Casino
Located just east of Syracuse is Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona. In addition to a stellar casino, fine dining and a golf dome, are five golf courses to match anyone’s skill level. Atunyote, a Tom Fazio design, has hosted PGA Tour events and the PGA Professional Championship.
Kaluhyat and Shenendoah will test the skills of the very best golfers in your buddy group. Pleasant Knolls is an awesome 9-hole course for the whole family, while Sandstone Hollow (below) will test your iron skills and short-game abilities on its par-3 layout.
With a staff full of PGA of America Golf Professionals that is headed by multi-year Central New York PGA Section Award winner and PGA Director of Golf Miles Blundell, you can get fitted for clubs, enjoy indoor facilities to hone your skills, and add to your credit card balance in its incredible golf shop.
In addition, check out their indoor putting and short games areas and you simply won’t want to leave Turing Stone.