Golfing at Holiday Valley
Golf Season Arrives at Holiday Valley
By Nicholas Pircio
It’s certainly not too soon to think about golf at Holiday Valley, as melting snow gives way to growing grass. Golfers are already teeing off to begin the new season. Steve Carney is the Director of Golf and Summer Operations, which covers everything to do with golf at Holiday Valley. This includes marketing programs, golf course maintenance, the golf shops, all play on the golf course. Carney says planning for the upcoming year begins back in the previous September, when he looks at pricing, purchasing merchandise, determining capital projects on the course, and any capital equipment purchases. According to Carney, “Throughout the winter we determine a lot of those things with our course superintendent and our marketing departments. We go to golf shows to buy merchandise and to promote Holiday Valley. All of our pricing and brochures, and a lot of our marketing aspects are determined during the winter. When we get to the spring we start to put a lot of that in place. The point is all the work does not start on April 1st.”
The front nine holes at Holiday Valley are now open, having opened on the last day of ski season, which the resort tries to do every year. Golf carts can be seen on the course. Carney is excited about the new season. “We expect our leagues to be a little bit bigger than in the past. We have some new events booked.” This year there are no large scale projects happening on the course, but improvements are coming. “Last year we had some trying dry weather that (adversely impacted) our conditions, and so we are definitely going to work hard at getting those back up to where they should be. We have some new fountains for the course. We bought a very high-end rough mower to try to keep our rough (areas of the golf course) a little more consistent.”
Although there’s been a downturn in the golfing industry in some places, Carney says this has not happened at Holiday Valley. “Our play continues to be steady and our golf packages are going right along at a normal pace. So we see everything continuing as usual.”
Typically, Holiday Valley hosts a large number of charity and business events, and about 60 golf leagues. Each league may have anywhere from twenty to 180 players. “So we see a slight increase in the number of events this year.”
As for the popularity of the sport, Carney says much depends in part on where you live in the U-S. “But Holiday Valley being a resort, what we call our ‘rounds per year’ has been steady for the past thirteen years. It’s been very consistent. We don’t start a lot of play early in the year because we still have a lot of snow on the hills, and many people who play resort golf stay closer to home early in the year. Then as the summer gets going, they travel a little farther.” Carney notes a bit of a decline in the number of newer golfers since 2005, but regular play and events continue to be strong.
Carney considers Holiday Valley to be the most beautiful golf course in western New York. “Our front nine is a bit park-like with a lot of creeks and ponds. Our back nine is on the lower ski slopes which brings into play a lot more hills, a lot of ravines, and is a bit more difficult. But we have four sets of tees that take care of different levels of golfers, from a beginner type to a more advanced (golfer). It’s a very challenging golf course.”
Golf lessons are an important part of the summer scene. Two PGA instructors are available for instruction, along with the Phil Ritson Golf School, which returns for the 13th year in July. A student lesson program is offered at two different times in both July and August at a very reasonable price, according to Carney.
Holiday Valley offers a large number of stay and play packages, ranging from a hotel room at the inn or at the Tamarack Club, to large condos and homes. “We have a complete rental management corporation that looks at all these options.” They offer packages that offer golf and Sky High Adventure Park. “We also host a large number of weddings and business functions, and a lot of those include golf. We see nothing but good things happening again for the coming year.”