Tiger Woods tunes up game with pal Notah Begay at Turning Stone Resort in New York
The Turning Stone Resort Casino near Verona, N.Y., might have lost its PGA Tour event, but it gained something it would have never gotten on Tour – a Tiger by the tail.
Tiger Woods, along with a host of other star golfers, will play in the Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge at Turning Stone’s Atunyote Golf Club on Oneida Indian Nation lands on Aug. 31. The date of the event was moved to ensure Woods’ appearance.
For the second straight year, the event will feature PGA and LPGA TOUR players in a mixed team, best ball format with a total purse of $275,000. Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Annika Sorenstam, Cristie Kerr, Suzann Pettersen and Natalie Gulbis will also play in an effort to raise awareness and funding for the improved health and wellness of Native American youth on Indian reservations nationwide.
Begay, a four-time tour winner, and Woods have been buddies dating back to their Stanford days. Getting Woods on board – even while he’s struggling with his form after an injury-riddled season – ensures the golf world will be watching. That wasn’t always the case when Turning Stone hosted its Turning Stone Championship on less-than-desirable dates during its four-year PGA Tour run from 2007-2010.
Woods makes headlines just by showing up on the first tee these days. Monday, he committed to play his first fall PGA Tour event of his career, the $5 million Frys.com Open, which begins October 6 at CordeValle Golf Club near San Jose, Calif. U.S. President’s Cup captain Fred Couples has reportedly already handed Woods a captain’s pick to play in Australia in November.
If there ever was a resort deserving of a fall Tour stop frequented by Woods, it’s Turning Stone. The Atunyote Golf Club (photos above and below) stays in immaculate condition, seeing only a handful of rounds a day. It’s tucked inside gates a shuttle ride away from the resort, so it’s secluded and pristine. The Shenendoah Course gets the most love from resort players. The Rick Smith design wraps strategy and scenery into one package. The Kaluhyat Course is so penal isn’t not actually all that fun to play, but golfers who love a challenge will find one there.
The accommodations in the lodge and the casino are plush. I was most impressed with the resort’s restaurant scene and the spa, a massive oasis with Native American motifs. Although Wildflowers serves good food, Rodizio - The Churrascaria at Turning Stone delivers a tasty experience. After guests load up on the salad bar, they turn the Brazilian stone on their table over to the green side, signaling waiters to bring stack after stack of roasted meats served on shish kabobs and swords.
Who knows how Tiger will play this week, but one thing’s certain. He won’t go hungry.
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