Kanon Valley Country Club: Working back to glory days

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(Sixteenth in a Series)

ONEIDA — The Rome Sentinel Golf Tour continued this week by taking a trip down to Oneida and visiting Kanon Valley Country Club.

“The course was established in 1970,” Kanon Valley’s PGA professional Rick Frederick said. “This year is our 50th anniversary believe it or not.”

Kanon Valley started off as a fully private golf course.

“At its highest point, it had over 300 members on the waiting list,” Frederick explained. “It’s kind of worked its way down to a semi-private at this point, and we’re incredibly busy.”

Frederick said that the club has been semi-private for about 10 years.

“We’ve picked up over 90 new members this offseason,” Frederick said. “We’re getting back to the glory days. Not quite there yet, but we’re getting there.”

Frederick said the course was started by a group of farmers.

“The original guidelines or structure of the golf course was that you actually needed to be a farmer to be a member. That was the original plan,” Frederick said. “Obviously that’s not the case anymore. But we really don’t have a course designer because it was kind of almost a home job.”

Although there wasn’t an official course designer, Frederick said Kanon Valley has a couple signature holes.

“Eighteen tends to be our quote-unquote signature hole,” Frederick said.

“It’s a nice little 390-yard par 4 that doglegs right. You have to hit over the water. The porch on the back of the clubhouse overlooks the green, so there’s always people standing up there heckling you or watching you finish.”

“Our 10th hole is another one and our ninth hole. All of the holes around the clubhouse tend to be the quote-unquote signature holes,” Frederick said.

Frederick said that the course is in great shape and that’s all thanks to the course superintendent Mark Rowles.

“He does a phenomenal job with a budget probably half of what he should have,” Frederick said. “We get rave reviews every time somebody comes out.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Frederick said it’s been a crazy summer.

“I’m sure every place would say the same thing. This year has just been unreal,” Frederick said. “We just ran the numbers a couple of days ago, and we have almost doubled rounds to this point from last year,” Frederick explained. “We’re about 95% increase. So it’s been a factory of golf rounds this year. It’s been insane. But it’s a good thing to see, and I hope it sticks this way.”

Frederick said if you’re looking to get into golf, there are lessons available at Kanon Valley.

“We haven’t been doing a ton and that’s strictly due to a timing factor,” Frederick said. “Being the type of golf course that we are, we don’t really have 10 people on staff at all times. So it’s kind of run by two, maybe three people at a time. And as busy as it’s been, just getting people checked in, making tee times, answering phones, things like that, there’s no time for the extracurricular stuff. But we fit it in when we can.”

Frederick said that leagues at Kanon Valley have been busy and even with tournaments getting postponed or canceled earlier in the summer, the fall at the course is “booked up like the middle of the summer any other year.”

“Every weekend is just chock full of stuff,” Frederick said. “We’re going to finish out the year with a bang, that’s for sure.”

As for my time on the course, I enjoyed this one a lot. The fairways were the greenest that I’ve seen all year.

Starting right off on hole one. It’s a 386-yard, par 4 from the white tees with a dogleg left that begins at 150 yards down the fairway. There’s a bunker on the left side of the green.

Hole 2 is a straight shot off of the tee with a bunker also on the left side of the green.

The third hole is a par 5, 407 yards from the white tees. It doglegs left beginning at 100 yards, but before the dogleg is a pond that starts when you’re about 130 yards out. There’s enough room to hit your second shot over the water and close to the green if your tee shot lands in the fairway.

The fourth hole is a par 4, 366 yards from the white tees. It has a dogleg right and a bunker on the left side of the green.

A deep bunker to the right of the green awaits you on the par 3, fifth hole.

Hole 6, I recommend laying up on this par 4 because there’s water that starts at about 150 yards. If you can hit your driver over the water, by all means go for it. But for me personally, I have a wicked slice so I would rather lay up with an iron than go for the green in two shots.

More bunkers await you at the front of the green on the par 4, seventh hole. Water and trees are on the right side of the fairway.

Hole 8 is another par 3 with bunkers on either side of the green. And to round out the front nine, the ninth is a dogleg left that starts at about 150 yards. Your second shot will be over a creek cutting through the middle of the fairway to get on the green, which sits above the creek.

The back nine begins with the player needing to hit over a pond to the fairway, which is slightly uphill. If you want to get on the green in two, watch out for the bunker that sits in front of the green.

Hole 11 has a slight dogleg left to see the green after your tee shot. There’s trees to the right side of the fairway, so you’ll need an accurate tee shot.

Hole 12 is a short par 5, coming in at 398 yards from the white tees. There’s a fairway bunker about 230 yards from the green on the right side, but other than that, this green is reachable in two or three shots.

Hole 13 is a par 4 that is straight shot off the tee. The green is guarded by a bunker on the right side.

Hole 14 is another par 3 with bunkers on either side of the green. Hole 15 has a slight dogleg right with a fairway bunker about 200 yards away from the green.

Hole 16 is a straight shot off of the tee with bunkers to the left and right of the green.

Hole 17 is the last par 3 of the course with a bunker to the right side of the green and to finish off your round, 18 is a sharp dogleg right that starts around 150 yards away from the green. Your second shot is going to go over the creek that runs across hole 9 and the pond that sits in front of 10. And it’s an uphill shot to the green.

Overall I enjoyed Kanon Valley and will be back for another 18 holes.

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