Tucked away in the foothills of Cattaraugus County, noisy roads won’t affect your backswing. No nearby airport will distract you from your birdie putt. The hustle and bustle of everyday society that plagues so many courses is a non-factor here; in fact, the only time your golf zen might be interrupted is by the klop-klop-klop of a passing Amish buggy.
Cardinal Hills Golf Course is off the beaten path, and that’s just the way they like it.
Don’t confuse rural with low quality. While you’re surrounded by fields, the 18-hole, par 72 course - and scenery - create an atmosphere conducive to golfing. Finding your moment of zen remains the easiest task.
Founded in 1927, Cardinal Hills has changed ownership multiple times. Throughout its existence, however, it’s remained a constant for golfers in the Randolph area. Current course manager Eric Brown, now in the 10th year of his tenure, has helped build the course’s reputation through junior programs, tournaments and sterling course upkeep. The most recent addition, a 3,200 square foot event center finished last summer, adds an entirely new dynamic to the course.
“Our current clubhouse, built in the 1960s, wasn’t working well for big tournament groups,” Brown said, referencing the multiple times Cardinal Hills hosts full fields of 144 golfers. “We were just running out of room. The addition of the event center allows us to comfortably host that many people.”
The event center, located between the 2nd and 9th hole, brings in weddings, class reunions, baby showers and birthday parties. For the larger tournaments, like Gotta Kiss Cancer Goodbye (slated for Saturday, July 13th), it hosts not only the golfers, but those who come afterwards. A fully-stocked bar and tent rentals allow for the party to be extended past the structure, and the sunset views remain some of the best in the area.
“The bigger tournaments, like Gotta Kiss Cancer Goodbye and Strike Out Leukemia, are full fields. So you’ve got all of the golfers, plus the folks that come afterwards for the party and raffles. It’s been a really great addition to the overall offerings of the course.”
To make room for the new structure, Brown and his crew had to rework some of the holes. No. 9, which used to be long, transformed into a short par 3. And No. 2, which was already a long par 5, became even longer (490 yards, No. 1 in difficulty). That’s the signature hole.
“We put a new green in. It’s pretty long and pretty difficult,” he said. “But the views are really great, and you can see the entire hillside south of the course.”
Growing the game should be high on the list of any local golf course. To ensure the sport remains, having a fun, engaging youth program to not only teaches kids the game, but provides an atmosphere where they’ll want to keep coming back.
“We have a tremendous junior program,” Brown said. “It runs on Tuesdays the entire month of July. We do it by the new building, because we have two greens and two tee boxes to work with. There are two guys that run it - one does the organization, and the other runs the instruction. He’s a retired caddy from Pinehurst (the site of multiple US Opens). Every year, we have at least 40-50 kids come.”
Cardinal Hills, one of WNY’s golf gems, is an awesome and affordable option for any golfer. Check the list of tournaments they have going on, plus more information on the course and event center, at their website, www.cardinalhillsny.com.