A visit to Cooperstown, New York is one that many baseball fans look forward to their entire lives. The main street, lined with shops dedicated to all the baseball memorabilia you could ever imagine, culminates at a stunning property housing the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. But on the opposite side of town sits The Otesaga and Leatherstocking Golf Course, a destination golfers should hold just as dear.
Stately is an understatement as you catch your first glimpse of The Otesaga Resort Hotel. Built in 1909, the Federal-style building’s front entrance with 30-foot columns can only be matched by the hotels view over Otsego Lake and Leatherstocking’s incredibly photogenic and idyllic 18th green behind. This view, which has been inspiring guests for decades, served as a teaser for our round the following morning.
The Devereux Emmet designed Leatherstocking Golf Course is one of those courses with a lofty regional reputation, but still under the radar outside the area. But if you’re a fan of a classic style layout with parkland and mountain golf features, Leatherstocking should not only whet your appetite but entice you to fully indulge.
Let’s start with the setting.
Leatherstocking features one of the more uniquely beautiful properties we have come across in North America providing a lakeside version of the famed Pebble Beach. Otsego Lake may not be the Pacific Ocean, but we’ll be damned if it isn’t just as stunning with the added benefit of being even more serene.
And the lake isn’t just about visual appeal. Indeed it factors into play at Leatherstocking’s strong closing duo where golfers will have to a carry an inlet of Otsego Lake named Blackbird Bay at the 195-yard par-3 17th and then bite off as much as they can chew from an island tee at the sweeping par-5 18th cape-like hole.
Mentioning cape holes, Leatherstocking is a golf course architecture fans delight. Though modest in length by today’s standards with a max yardage of 6,400 yards, the holes scattered among this par 72 layout contain as much architectural merit as any 18 hole golf course on the continent. Golfers will find an alps hole, a punchbowl green, a crowned green, an Eden bunker, a short, false fronts, the aforementioned cape hole and so much more. And for those of you who have no clue what we’re talking about, consider your visit to Leatherstocking an opportunity to grow your understanding of the game in a way that will benefit your own game.
Speaking of improving your own game, be sure to spend time on your nearest practice putting green before visiting. Any discussion of Leatherstocking that fails to shed light on its putting surfaces is a conversation that has missed the mark. Small in size but large in character, we dare any golfer to make it through a round without a three putt. Severely sloped in places and extremely well-protected nearly everywhere else, take time to notice both the nuanced and in-your-face nature of the collection of putting surfaces here. The greens at Leatherstocking are some of the finest examples of Golden Age, classic golf course design and are worth the price of admission alone.
We arrived to Otesaga and Leatherstocking not knowing what to expect, but we left expecting to return as often as possible. Staying at the Otesaga is in our opinions the absolute best way to visit Leatherstocking. Apart from great accommodations right on the golf course, there is a breakfast buffet that is to die for — nothing beats eating overtop the stunning setting of the 18th green. But for those of you who are considering a day trip, public guests are welcome with fees starting at only $70.
Oh, while you’re there, remember, baseball is a popular pastime in Cooperstown too.
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