Of the three 18-hole golf courses at the Turning Stone Casino & Resort, the Kaluhyat is typically regarded as the toughest (the Tom Fazio-designed Atunyote and Rick Smith-designed Shenandoah are also options).
Part of this challenge comes in Robert Trent Jones II’s work to stretch the course for more than 7,100 yards around a series of six lakes on the property. And where there’s not a lake to swallow your ball? There’s usually a wetland.
The original Robert Trent Jones was responsible for the recreation of the famous “Channel” hole at the modern Lido municipal on Long Island, and the younger RTJ took a stab at it during No. 9 at Kaluhyat. Players who want the best angle in during this 450-yard par four will need to carry nearly 200 yards of marsh to reach the rightmost fairway. A safe tee shot to the left will require an awkward approach across a large cross bunker to a well-guarded green.
The Oneida word “Kaluhyat” translates to “the other side of the sky” but in many cases here players will be happy to find the other side of the water!
The complex of courses at Turning Stone is quite amazing given the location and the absence of serious quality golf in the broader region.
Much of the attention usually focused on the Atunyote Course by Tom Fazio but I believe the Kaluhyat is the better routed and has the best combination of holes. The RTJ, Jr. layout starts off slowly but the key is getting momentum started as soon as possible.
The first five holes slowly build up in terms of quality. When you reach the par-4 5th things quickly escalate and the need for consistent shotmaking is a must.
During my visit far too many people were playing tees too far back and, as a result, the pace of play, was impacted.
The middle stretch of the course is where the architecture clearly shines. The ending series of holes are good but leave you wishing for something more memorable and dramatic. In sum -- a mixed verdict.
M. James Ward