Sports
8:31 am
Wed March 5, 2014

A Bunch of Inside Golf Stuff Kick-Starts Green Dreams

The only green that could be found anywhere near the SRC Arena on the campus of Onondaga Community College on Saturday afternoon was the artificial turf of the outdoor multi-purpose sports field next door. It was cleared from snow so various players could throw around their lacrosse ball.

Mini lessons at the Golf Show

Yet a steady procession of expo-goers walked to and from the arena with greens on their minds.

The annual Syracuse Golf Show filled the  field house for three days.

I've attended a lot of years in a row. In fact, the SRC Arena is the third stop in my golf show history, starting downtown in Oncenter and then moving to the state fairgrounds in Geddes.

The OCC space  is a comfortable place to dream about better days, better swings and better scores.

Simply put, the Syracuse Golf Show features just about anything you'd like to check out that's connected to golf, and then some.

Perhaps the added attractions -- companies that will reline your tub and shower, re-pave your driveway, sell you a bracelet to cure your balance problems, or sign you up to possibly win a trip to Florida -- were brought in so the non-golfer in your life can come along and keep busy, too.

The golfers, though, we do not need these diversions.

The good deal starts at admission. For your $10 ticket, you get to sign up for a free year's subscription to either Golf Digest or Golf World magazines. And then you get to wander over to the booth for Kanon Valley Golf Club in Oneida and receive your certificate good for one free round of golf when the weather clears. Win-win.

If you want to start your new season with better (or just different) clubs, you can choose new right off  the rack, or last year's models in the barrels, or used sets cleaned, rubber-banded together, and lied out across the table. Any brand you covet is available. I couldn't help but crack this one to my two buddies who met me at OCC: I already have used clubs at home.

You can buy new golf shoes, of any style.

You can buy a pull cart, a carry bag with legs, or a legless bag that's best fit is the back of a riding cart.

Hats. Yes, they were selling hats from many, many clubs and courses.

You can buy golf balls, new and used. The used balls come in big plastic bags, divided by brand, type, and grade. The woman taking the cash said that all these balls had been retrieved from water hazards on courses in Central New York, stored in a barn in Bridgeport, and washed and sorted for sale. My pal took home a great value, three dozen Titleist Velocity balls for $25. New they go for more than triple that. These babies have double-digit numbers on them, too, to help you stand out in your foursome: 00, 11, 22, 33 ... and so on.

There are golf gadgets, too. One loud fellow drew my attention to a golf grip, rubbed it with some sort of potion, and told me to feel how grippy it was.

Very tacky, indeed.

No, I did not go for the Gorilla Gold, perfect for every golfer with sweaty hands who likes to play in the sun and the rain.

Some people are drawn to the clinics, seated in aisles of folding chairs to listen to tips on the swing. Other people are drawn to the lessons. On one side of the lesson range, pro Jay Catalano gave five-minute lessons for a fee of $5. On the other side, pro Chuck Jonick gave tips for free. Both professionals had takers.

There is plenty of wandering involved. Walk slowly, stop to talk to Perry Noun Jr. and his workers from standout public course Timber Banks. Walk slowly, stop to talk with the folks from private course Lake Shore. Walk slowly, stop to talk to the folks from everyman Canastota public course Casolwood. They all will gladly tell you about membership rates, seasonal rates, single round rates, twilight rates, senior rates.

Every year I go to the Syracuse Golf Show because it gets the juices flowing.

Central New York is one of the best spots you can imagine for a golfer once the weather turns.

We have dozens of courses suited for play of every level, from beginner to scratch golfer. Prices are reasonable. You can play at Syracuse city-owned, nine-hole courses at Sunnycrest and Burnet Park for less than the $10 it took to get into the golf show.

The pins will be placed into the holes soon, we can hope. Liverpool Golf Club is famous for allowing golfers to play when there's not too much snow out there for a ball to roll a little bit.

I will be out there starting with the familiar, folksy, family-owned course, Westvale. It will be wet, but my golf shoes will pull me through.

A nine-hole after-work league I've played in calls Northern Pines home.

My friends and I plan to play Arrowhead, Rogue's Roost, Radisson Greens, Camillus Country Club, Green Lakes, Foxfire, the Links at Erie Village and Old Oak. We do, in various orders, most seasons..

We'll plan for special rounds at Timber Banks, designed by Jack Nicklaus. We'll consider really special rounds at the Turning Stone courses, but not the most expensive one, Atunyote,  which used to hold a PGA tournament.

I'll play with my daughter, her boyfriend George, and his dad at nine-hole Seneca, and hopefully throw in a daddy-daughter day at 18-hole Brooklawn, too. The motto at that flat, accessible course is: Golf is for people, not mountain goats.

The Syracuse Golf Show, spanning wintry February into still-wintry March, brings all these green dreams closer.

You can find a list of 45 Syracuse-area golf course, with important details, at golflink.com. And, for those of you thinking even further ahead: The event's site already lists the dates for Syracuse Golf Show 2015 as Feb. 27 to March 1, at SRC Arena.

Are you already planning your first outdoor golf round in Syracuse? How many different courses do you think you'll play this season? What is your favorite course?