When I think golf, I think Hamilton, NY. Home to the prestigious Colgate University, Hamilton is located in the center of New York State. It's 253 miles from Philadelphia (where I drove from), 220 miles from New York City, and 270 miles from Boston. Literally in the center of New York State.
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The town of 3,000 people doubles in size when school is in session. Colgate University is the life of this town. People get excited for the sports there (specifically the hockey and football) and like most college towns, the businesses thrive when the students are in town.
In my short time here, I managed to tackle 4 of the 5 bars, experience fresh squeezed lemonade at the farmers market, walk through the fountain (it was late on Friday night), and the main reason I went... to play golf.
Colgate University Seven Oaks Golf Club
Colgate University is the proud owner of an excellent golf course, Seven Oaks Golf Club. For those of you who don't think of Hamilton, NY as a golfing destination, you might be singing a different tune shortly.
The Robert Trent Jones designed course is not only beautiful as the school that owns it, but it's as challenging too. The course plays 6,915 yards from the tips and makes excellent use of every inch. Although very walkable due to the lack of hills (unlike the campus itself), we decided to take a cart on this day (it has something to do with me walking through the fountain the night before).
I'm not sure if it's a river, but there is a thin body of water that runs throughout the entire course. The water comes into play on 12 of the 18 holes and forces you to make accurate club selections from both the tee and on your second shot. Pay close attention to the red and yellow stakes. I'm guessing this body of water is responsible for the slope and rating of 74.6/143.
The par 72 course offers four par 5's ranging in length from the 516 yard 5th hole to the 546 yard 18th hole. Although reachable in two, the 18th hole is guarded on the left by trees and water running up the entire right side. The water even protects the front right part of the green demanding a perfect 2nd shot if you want to stay dry.
Seven Oaks also offers four par 3's. Although they offer little in the way of hazards, Jones makes uses change of elevation as well as protecting these greens with bunkers and undulating greens. They are much more difficult than they appear when first approached.
Where to Stay
I'm fortunate enough to have a good friend in the area so a place to stay was not an issue. If you don't know one of the 3,000 people living in Hamilton, you can check out the Wendt University Inn (about 5 minutes away) or the Colgate Inn (about 2 minutes away). The local residents have been known to rent out their houses for a weekend to golfers wanting to play here who are in a group, it might be worth looking into.
Is It Worth the Trip
I've been wanting to play here for a while and Seven Oaks Golf Club did not disappoint. The Robert Trent Jones design is something special and when it's combined with the prestige of Colgate University, it's a real gem.
Get a foursome together, pack your bags, and load into the car. This is a golf road trip you and your buddies will be talking about for a while!
Location: Hamilton, NY
Cost: It's expensive due to a short season. Somewhere around $80 on the weekend + Cart
Proshop: Small but has almost everything you need.
Range: Yes, a range and a putting green
My Score: 93 (51-42)
Play Again: Any chance I get I would play here
Notes: Although the greens are big, they can be quick!