It’s no secret that much of New York is flush with great golf courses from both Golden Age and modern designers alike. Syracuse drew a relatively short straw compared to other major cities in the state, but it still has a pair of noteworthy classics, in Onondaga (from Walter Travis) as well as Donald Ross’s Bellevue Country Club.
The renowned architect found many a hill to work with at this club when he arrived for the original nine-hole design, and even more when the club acquired additional acreage four years later for him to complete a traditional 18.
A long descent from the tee box is memorable to all golfers, and several holes fit the description at Bellevue, including No. 4 and the closing hole. Although players will get help off of the tee, they’ll need it: The former is the No. 1 handicap hole, and No. 18 will require a long approach to a green that slopes away from the player. The signature feature at Bellevue, however, comes at No. 14, where a visible rock ledge along the right of the fairway may distract players.
Ron Forse has been commissioned for a master plan to restore the Ross elements at the club in the near future.
Another fixture of the Ross thruway project, this gem is tucked at the top of the valley overlooking Syracuse. Usually tabbed as the best in Syracuse, this Ross design features some sneaky greens and shot shaping. While not a long track, shot shaping is a necessity and strategic first shots can make the challenge a little easier. Multiple holes have steep uphill approach shots, making the whole course seem longer. The front nine is highlighted by the par three 7th. Playing at around 155 yards, the downhill drop makes it play shorter. Also the main spot to take in the views, this hole offers a big green, guarded by three bunkers. The 14th hole is the most memorable, as the fairway is sandwiched by two stone ledges. The dogleg right isn’t long but the false front usually requires a club up. The course offers a fun yet challenging round, with some opportunities to score. From a design standpoint, there’s some question marks but could be due to limited space and renovations. Rivals a few others for best in Central New York but rightfully so.