Leatherstocking - New York - USA

Leatherstocking Golf Course,
The Otesaga Resort Hotel,
60 Lake Street,
New York (NY) 13326,

  • +1 607 547 9931

Cooperstown is a town better known by Americans for hosting the Hall of Fame of their national game: baseball. That said, those looking for Scotland’s national sport (in a more American style, of course) while visiting the museums here will find it at Leatherstocking, the course affiliated with the Otesaga Resort.

Hopefully there will be many birdies on your scorecard during the round, but if not you’ll probably find your highlight at Blackbird(-ie) Bay, the outlet of Otsego Lake that the final two holes will come into close contact with. No. 17 is a daunting par three, requiring a carry of 200 yards straight across a marsh to a green (that, thankfully, is long). The final hole is the one you’ll write home about. You’ll follow a long bridge into the lake, where you’ll tee off from an island. The rest is a remarkable resemblance to No. 18 at Pebble Beach, with 500 yards of fairway wrapping around the lake. The only thing keeping it from being the Clambake closer is the Pacific Ocean’s more aggressive tides.

For action away from the lake, consider No. 12, another par three. Although Devereaux Emmet was certainly known for some quirky bunkers, his approach to this green was thorough, circling it with no less than 10 hazards.

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Reviews for Leatherstocking

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Description: Laid out on the southern shores of Otsego Lake, looking onto Blackbird Bay, the fairways of the Leatherstocking golf course (formerly known as Cooperstown Country Club) lie less than a mile from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Rating: 6.7 out of 10 Reviews: 3
Mark White

Leatherstocking is fun to play due to both the land movement on many holes, the final three holes along Otsega Lake (or is it Glimmerglass), and many interesting green surfaces and surrounds. I consider it to be one of the most scenic as well as more interesting resort golf courses on the east coast of the USA that I have played, although certainly not as difficult as the better resort courses.

I disagree slightly with the previous reviewer in that I found the majority of the greens to be tricky although several are relatively flat, more so on the back nine. Perhaps his comments were influenced by the cup locations on the day. On the first thirteen holes, my playing partners and I often read the greens incorrectly as to break and speed. When the round was finished, I remarked that knowledge of the greens would likely save 2-5 shots a round. Behind our threesome were two women members hitting multiple shots and putts as they were playing a practice round for an upcoming women’s tournament. It was obvious they knew the course very well. As our round felt slow due to being a threesome behind two groups playing a modified scramble, I had time to watch the women as they made putts that I had missed by a fair margin even though I consider myself to be a decent putter. They also took better lines into the greens with their wedges than I did resulting in their balls being closer to the hole.

There remains much of Devereux Emmet’s design style on the course. There are false fronts, humps and plateaus in the greens, mounds and backstops surrounding the greens, and tiers. There is an extensive use of cross bunkers and several rear bunkers.

The bunkering is very good for this course consistent with the challenge presented by the tee shot or the ground surrounding the greens. There are deeper bunkers and shallower bunkers. There are bunkers that come into play off the tee that protect the better line into the green. Many greens are ringed with bunkers.

The fairways are typically wide but the fairway bunkers force one on many holes to choose a line. The bunkers near the green are not as overly punitive as are the green side mounds as one can get stuck in those mounds. Most of the greenside bunkers are not overly deep with a couple of notable exceptions such as the first hole.

Yet as wide as the fairways are, the bigger defense for the tee shot are the trees which are generally never thick, but seemingly always in one’s way should one get slightly off line.

This design by Devereux Emmet is a bit awkward in the routing as it returns to the first tee after the fifth hole. It later crosses Lake Street for holes nine - twelve with the downhill twelfth feeling very wedged in. The fourteenth hole is a drivable par 4 at 285/254 yards and feels like an afterthought rather than planned.

On the plus side, the routing results in several lovely uphill par 4’s and one par 3 as well as a tee built on a man-made small island to play the eighteenth. The eighteenth requires a forced carry over the lake followed by playing alongside the water’s edge to the green. The twelfth hole, a par five, occupies the highest point of the golf course with terrific views of the lake, although the best view is the walk to the eighteenth and playing the eighteenth. The sixteenth takes advantage of an internal pond to create one of the best visuals from the elevated tee.

The course is only 6401 yards from its green tees, similar to the length at another design by Mr. Emmet, which is St. George’s on Long IsLand. Most play the white tees at 6040 yards. Despite to short length, the course plays as a as 72, rated 71.0/133.

1. Par 4 - 340/322. This hole features a small valley fronting a raised green with perhaps the deepest bunker on the course on the front right. There are five bunkers surrounding this green. The surface features a back left plateau which requires the right pace to avoid the ball coming back to your feet or cutting off to the right. It’s a very good green.

2. Par 4 - 392/372. This hole features an uphill green with a single bunker on the left and mounds surrounding the green. The green is somewhat flat at the rear tending back to front.

3. Par 3 - 200/193. From an elevated tee the left side is close to the stone wall bordering the road. The right front features taller mounds to clear. This green is relatively flat and balls hit on a lower flight will likely roll to the edges or off the green.

4. Par 5 - 513/483. This hole should be a good chance at par or better as it is straight with a wide fairway. Lake Road borders the right side. The hole gets interesting for the second shot due to the collection of five bunkers on the left and crossing the fairway. Nearer the green there is a dip resulting in a false front. The green features six bunkers down the left side while the surface has a defined small spine running vertically through the green.

5. Par 4 - 396/386. The hole plays again to a wide fairway but the green is set slightly to the left in a tight corridor of bushes to the right and trees to the left. Cross bunkers are employed about 50 yards short of the green costing a visual distraction that might make players over-swing. There are flanking bunkers on this small green which has a very sharp slope to the front about halfway into the green. If one lands short of the more level back half, the ball will release all the way to the front. It’s not a great hole, but the green is very clever and challenging.

6. Par 4 - 362/350. You drive past the clubhouse in front of the patio for the tee shot on a dogleg right. Thick trees and a thin sliver of water await down the entirety of the right side while the left side has scattered tree. There are five bunkers surrounding the green which has various internal shelves. It’s a decent golf hole.

7. Par 4 - 404/391. This hole features thicker trees down the left at the point where the fairway rises to a green on much higher ground. There is a set of cross bunkers about 60 yards short of the green. There are three bunkers on the left and rear of the green which is narrow with the right side featuring small mounds. The green has a steady rise to it where balls landing short will likely come down the hill a bit. Of to the right of the green is a semi-valley. I liked the hole and thought it to be the best on the front nine.

8. Par 4 - 375/340. The hole cants a bit to the right. The fairway features small rolls although longer hitters will find the flatter ground closer to the green. Thick trees are down the right side. I found it a bit odd that five green side bunkers are all on the right side. This hole features a rear bunker. It is the weakest hole on the front nine.

9. Par 3 - 186/158. You cross the street for the next four holes. This hole plays longer as the green is up about 25 feet with sharp fall-offs both front and right. The green is thin but long and without bunkers. The green has a strong tilt to the front right. It is a challenging hole.

10. Par 4 - 384/362. The fairway ends in a central bunker about 300 yards from the tee. From here the hole rises to the green. Seven bunkers surround the green with the two front bunkers about ten yards short. The right side of the green is a steep fall-off. This green is one of the steepest sloped on the course moving strongly to the right.

11. Par 5 - 560/532. The fairway is wide with a cant to the left. Longer hitters might be able to reach the 3 bunkers on the left. There is a single bunker on the right a bit farther up. For most players these bunkers are out of reach from the tee. The fairway rises and falls with a steep drop fronting the green. The green is small for the length of the hole and balls landing on the downslope before the green more often roll through the green. Four bunkers guard the left and rear. The green has a slight tilt to the left.

12. Par 3 - 137/122. From a steep drop of perhaps 80 feet, the green is surrounded by ten bunkers. The green has a quick slope to the left. This hole feels tight due to the proximity of the bushes and cart path behind the green which protects the beginning of the parking lot of the farm museum behind the hole.

13. Par 4 - 342/324. You cross the road to another gently rolling fairway where there are trees down both sides. There is an early raised bunker sitting inside the fairway on the left that should be easily carried. The fairway has a few rolls down that left side. Another fairway bunker on the right farther up is in play from the tee. This small green sits off to the left with a bunker right and a bunker behind the green. The most interesting feature to this hole is the grass pit on the left front of the green which is large and about nine feet deep. It’s a cool hole.

14. Par 4 - 285/254. The fairway has several rises and falls to it with a single cross bunker on the right that should be easily carried from the tee. Two bunkers are down the left in play off the tee. This is another small green with a long bunker at the rear of the greens and small mounds on the sides. Despite the small green, it is not a compelling golf hole.

15. Par 5 - 462/452. The land rises and falls adding length to this hole. Bigger hitters can reach this in two but the green is on lower ground behind a rise and presents a blind shot. This is another small green for the length of the hole, the third in a row. The play off the tee is down the right as the fairway cants left. Two cross bunkers can come into play down the left forcing many players to play to the right which will mean the green is still likely hidden as the left side offers a view. Two additional bunkers are spaced on the right about 50 and 25 yards from the green. The green has two rear bunkers and is relatively flat.

16. Par 4 - 362/348. From an elevated tee the fairway looks narrow and presents more of an issue for longer hitters. Every player should be able to reach the pond which goes down the entirety of the right side as well as cutting in front of the green. Two raised bunkers are on the left with the first one in play for most players. The green has a single bunker left middle and is also relatively flat. It is a nice visual from the tee due to the pond, the trees behind the green as well as the view of the lake and Otesaga Hotel.

17. Par 3 - 182/146. You play over the marshy edge of the lake backdropped by the Copperstown CC tennis courts and clubhouse in the distance. The green is angled to the right consistent with the water line. There is a bunker left and at the rear while the right side has a small mound. This green is also relatively flat and I wish it were more interesting.

18. Par 5 - 515/505. You walk across down a narrow path onto the wooden bridge which juts out into the lake to the small man-made teeing area. At this point you decide how much of the curvature of the lake you want to take on. For most players the fairway widens at about 130 yards from the green. There is a small bunker off the right about 50 yards short of the green. This is probably the largest green in the course with two tiers and a rear bunker. The hotel is to your right up on the hill with the long view of the lake to one’s left. It is both an exciting finish and a beautiful finish.

This is a must play if in the area due to the variety of holes, the clever bunkering and many fine green complexes. It is also,one of the more beautiful courses one will play.

July 13, 2022
7 / 10
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Steve MacQuarrie

Charles Blair Macdonald, the father of golf course architecture, had a couple pithy thoughts that I would apply to Leatherstocking:

“Golf greens are to golf courses as faces are to portraits.” and…..

“Don’t confuse the painting with the canvas.”

The course’s canvas is quite spectacular, with dramatic views of the lake and bordering hillside from many points, the finest being the finishing hole, whose beauty is enhanced by the sweet Otesaga hotel sitting behind the green. Though there are some interesting holes, particularly the four on the hillside across Lake Street, I was less impressed with the rest of the golf course. Half the greens were dull and flat, bringing MacDonald’s first quote into play. Every hole runs either north or south, giving a repetitive feel and there were few strategic challenges—an OK painting on a very lovely canvas.

June 07, 2021
6 / 10
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Colin Braithwaite

Leatherstocking is located in bucolic Cooperstown, NY. The Leatherstocking name comes from writings by James Fenimore Cooper called “The Leatherstocking Tales”. He is best known for “The Last of the Mohicans”. Cooperstown is not named after him, but rather his father. Cooperstown is best known for being home The Baseball Hall of Fame. Back to the course, Leatherstocking is a Devereux Emmet design.

The first hole is welcoming a short par four that leans slightly right. The green is protected by five bunkers, three eft and two right. Two is a bit tougher, a bit longer with two crossing bunkers about 60 yards in front of the green and 3 greenside, one left and two back. The third is a 200 yard S shaped par 3 and I think much tougher than 2. There is fairway that lingers left and the green is behind 7 bunkers. The first par 5 is reachable, good birdie hole but OB right. While there is only one fairway bunker in the driver landing area, if you are playing it as a 3 shotter there are five more with a cross bunker. Get your yardage correct. The 5th heads back to the clubhouse and has two crossing bunkers about 50 yards short of the green as well as left and right greenside. The 6th leans right with a fairway bunker right. The green is a protected by 5 bunkers. The 7th is a tough par four, the longest one on the course. There is a bunker left of this elevated green. The 8th leans right and the closer you get to green the tighter the fairway. The green has 3 bunkers short right, 2 right and one long. The 9th is a mid-distance par 3 with an elevated green. Not sure how it is considered the 7th toughest hole on the course.

The back starts with the number two handicap hole. It is not long but does have a cross bunker about 90 yards from the green. The green is protected by 6 bunkers which certainly adds to the level of difficulty. The 11th-15th are thescoring holes. The 11th is a reachable par five with fairway bunkers left and one right. The 12th is a short fun par three. Downhill to a raised green surrounded by 10 bunker, a classic island green. The 13th leans left and the left cross bunker will grab your attention on the tee, but it is only 165 to clear it. Be more concerned about the right fairway bunker. Bomb it right over the center of the cross bunker to set up your flip wedge. The 14th is even shorter at 285 from the tips. You gotta go for it. The 15th is a very reachable par 5. Favor the right off the tee. Things start to get interesting the last 3 holes. The 16th leans right with a couple of fairway bunkers left and a water hazard sliding in on the left. Straight drive is fine but left or right you will be looking at a bogey. The green is protected with a bunker left and water front and right. The 17th is a mid-yardage par 3 all carry over the lake. The finishing hole is awesome. A par five with a man-made tee box in the lake. The tee box is not that big, so I would not come out of your shoes. It is a dogleg left with water all the way down the left side. It is a definite, “how much you gonna chew off” hole. Big hitters can get home in two. Fun hole, aren’t better finishing holes. No matter how it ends, great or not so, you will be talking about what happened on 18 well after the round is over.

Short, throwback, fun course

September 24, 2020
7 / 10
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