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History of Hunter golf courses, part II

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September 13, 2017 - 11:32 am Updated: September 13, 2017 - 11:55 am
The Mountain Golf Club

The Mountain Golf Club in Haines Falls (Twilight Park, bordering on Route 23A) was opened in 1889.

The course was first on the old Dunn property, located on the north side of state Route 23A — directly across from the entrance to Twilight Park. It was incorporated (after locating to the south side of 23A, on Twilight property) as the Mountain Golf Club on July 23, 1906.

Author John A. MacGahan explains in his book “Twilight Park, the First Hundred Years,” how successful the club was for several years. MacGahan described the course as being unusual: Nine holes stuffed into slightly more than 20 acres, and unique by the hilliness of the links.

He explained the club enjoyed prosperous times during the 1920s with golf professional William Gressick Sr. serving the club and living conveniently nearby in Sunset Park. An attempt to increase the size of the golf course was made in 1931. A tract of land to the west of the then-existing course, described as “100 acres, be the same more or less,” was bought and plans begun to expand to 18 holes, but within a year, the plans were abandoned as a consequence of the Great Depression.

The Mountaintop Golf Club ended with its final season in 1942. Sadly, the Depression, followed by World War II, had a major impact on recreation on the mountain top, as elsewhere.

Laurel House Golf Course

Another Mountaintop Golf Course was the Laurel House Course. It was a par 3 golf course available near the hotel, located at 50 Laurel House Road, in Haines Falls.

The Laurel House, at the crest of the Kaaterskill Falls, was one of three major hotels on the Mountaintop, built in the 1840s to accommodate 40 guests, and expanded by 1885 to accommodate nearly 300 guests. The other two famous hotels were the Catskill Mountain House (1824) and Hotel Kaaterskill (1881).

These three hotels were the start of the hotel business in the town of Hunter, and golfing was a part of all of them.

Kaaterskill Hotel Golf Course

The Kaaterskill Hotel, a large hotel (eventually realizing a capacity for nearly 1,200 guests) at the top of South Mountain, had an 18-hole golf course extending from Scutt Road to the North Lake Trading Post.

The Trading Post was located just before the entrance to North Lake Campsite near 770 North Lake Road, county Route 18.

People who remember the North Lake Trading Post recall the quaint, friendly building operated for many years by the Yager Family. The Trading Post carried all the necessary items for the campers enjoying the North Lake Campsite.

Catskill Mountain House Golf Course

“The new golf course at the Catskill Mountain House has been completed and golfers claim it’s one of the finest courses in the Catskills,” is taken from the June 20, 1915, edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper.

In an advertisement from a booklet called “The Mountain Trails and Tales,” it was said “a splendid golf course adjoins the hotel. High on a mountain hill, overlooking South Lake, this course promises you many hours of enjoyable playing in the rarefied air. There is a new zest, a new thrill to golf, when played on a mountaintop.

“And yet, the course is perfect, at once inviting to the beginner and the experienced golf enthusiast. A competent professional gives golf lessons.”

THE Fairmont Hotel Golf Course

A large kosher hotel called The Fairmont, located on Platte Clove Road, (county Route 16), enjoyed an 18-hole, par 3 golf course. Local resident Donald Thorpe was the unofficial golf pro on duty.

The Fairmont (later named The Grand) accommodated nearly 250 guests and was the largest hotel in Tannersville Village.

The Onteora Golf Club

The Onteora Country Club was first located opposite the All Souls Church at the intersection (Mountaintop Arboretum property) of county routes 25 and 23C.

According to E. Davis Gaillard, (from the 1987 publication of Onteora, Hills of the Sky), “the five-hole Onteora golf course had a tough going. For one thing, at the turn of the century, the five holes of the course were used for the Onteora cottagers’ annual weekend Fair. This fair interrupted golfing activity on the course. The other disadvantages this course had were the construction of new cottages that surrounded the golf course and the Maude Adams Road that directly ran through the fairways.”

After the Mattice Farm (Onteora Park consists of the old Mattice and Parker Farms) was purchased, the farmlands were developed into a challenging nine-hole golf course that was completed in 1906. That nine-hole course is the same course golfers enjoy today 111 years later.

The course overlooks the man-made lake (completed in 1929) emerging from the Mattice Swamp.

Although a private course, many community residents enjoyed Onteora’s course once a year, for 25 years, playing in a golf tournament with Melissa Feml as the guest of honor.

Thank you, Melissa and Onteora, for those years.

Close by — located in Windham — there are two popular courses: Christman’s and the Windham Country Club. Mountaintop golfers are fortunate — for a small area, we have four public courses within a short driving distance.

I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have any further information on golf or about these courses, or corrections, please forward the information to: townofhunterhistorian@yahoo.com or call 518-589-4130.

Dede Terns-Thorpe is the town of Hunter historian. Reach her at deternsthorpe@gmail.com.