Golf, baseball and summer. Those seem to go well together don't they?
Well, if you are a devotee of golf and baseball and are looking for a place to blend the two games, the picture perfect destination in which to enjoy both is Cooperstown, N.Y.
I can't imagine a better sporting doubleheader than golf at The Otesaga Hotel's Leatherstocking Golf Course in the morning followed by a stroll through the history of "America’s Pastime" at The Baseball Hall of Fame a few blocks away.
My buddy, Vin Serella, and I decided to spend a night and two days in Cooperstown, a quaint village of a few thousand souls that swells in population during the summer months. We had heard great things about The Leatherstocking Golf Course and wanted to give in a whirl.
After a night's stay at the luxurious grand old hotel The Otesaga, we ambled over to the nearby course for a round. The layout was a true delight. It's a well kept, routing that is challenging, scenic and fun. What we enjoyed most about the course was its quirkiness. A demanding 411-yard par-four is followed by a relatively straightforward 362-yarder four par on the front side, which ends with a testy 186-yard par-three that demands a pure shot to an elevate green hidden from view from the tee box.
Ten, 11 and 12 are great holes that wind up a hill and afford views of Lake Otesaga. The 563-yard, par-five 11th tumbles downhill and can be reached in two by big hitters. Number 12 is a little, 137-yard par-three that plays even shorter because the green is located some 40 feet below the tee box. But be careful, long puts you in the parking lot of a store and left into a roadway.
Number 14 is a great example of a super, short par four, measuring only 285 yards from the tips. But the tee shot is blind and the second shot must be struck true to find the small green.
Numbers 17 and 18 at The Leatherstocking are good finishing holes. The 182-yard 17th calls for a tee shot over water, and the 515-yard 18th begins with a tee shot from an area that juts out to Lake Otesaga. The hole bends its way left with the lake hugging the fairway and putting surface.
After the round we took as journey through the Baseball Hall of Fame, which was recently remodeled. It’s all there, the history of the game dating back well over 100 years, with displays that highlight the great teams and individuals from yesteryear and today.
The trip starts with a short movie in a theater designed to replicate a ballpark, complete with folding seats and a mural that surrounds the seating area to give the impression of being at a ballpark.
Baseball fans will enjoy the uniforms, artifacts and historical information that can be found in every nook and cranny of the Hall of Fame. The highlight is a walk through the area where the plaques of all the Hall of Famers--from Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb to Paul Molitor and Ryne Sandberg--hang.
The village of Cooperstown has many shops dedicated to the game of baseball and some great restaurants and pubs where you can argue about the Yankees and Red Sox until closing time. Lake Otesaga offers a plethora of recreational opportunities. The Otesaga Hotel, which sits astride Lake Otesaga and offers world-class dining and other amenities, cant be beat for a good nights rest or whiling away a summer evening on the hotel's veranda.
For the best of both worlds--golf and baseball--take a trip to Cooperstown. You won't be disappointed. Come to think of it, maybe one day isn’t enough to take in the golf and wonders of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Like the locals say, stick around for a while and you may never leave. For The Leatherstocking Golf Course, call 607-547-5275, for information about the Baseball Hall Fame, visit www.baseballhalloffame.org, and for The Otesaga Hotel, call 800-348-6222.