Golfers new to the western New York area might be confused when asked if they’ve played Terry Hills. “No, is she/he a good stick?” might be a retort…cue laughter. For the uninitiated, Terry Hills is the one of the few, 27-hole complexes in the area. Having an extra nine holes means that Terry Hills is essentially three courses in one. On any given day, you can play one of three, 18-hole combinations, which makes for diversity and a never-ending source for interesting golf. We had a chance to speak with the course recently, and came away with these bits of information and history.
1. Please give us a historical timeline for the Terry Hills courses.
In 1930 Parker Terry designed and opened Terry Hills, one of the area’s first 9-hole golf courses. The Rotondo family, under Joe Rotondo and Connie Rotondo Babcock, acquired Terry Hills in 1972. Alongside the 2nd generation owners, Nick Rotondo and Mary Rotondo Brown, as well as 3rd generation, Casey Brown & Danielle Rotondo, the family has continually improved the course, turning what was once farmland into a locally renowned 27-hole championship golf course. The second 9 holes were built in 1986, designed by Geoffrey Cornish, and third 9, architected in 1996 by Edmund Alt, completed our 27 holes. Our latest addition was the modern clubhouse, which opened in 2005, bringing a refined banquet and wedding venue to the community.
2. If you could summarize in one line, what is the goal/purpose for Terry Hills?
To provide an exceptional public golf experience for our guests by combining our pristine course conditions with affordable greens fees, thus creating an outstanding value.
3. Which holes are the most special at the course? They don’t have to be the jaw-droppers, but the ones that golfers mention, time and again.
#14, a par 3, is our signature hole. People call it the “island hole” even though it’s not completely surrounded by water. 3 out of 4 golfers hit it in the water here!
#9, a par 5, plays back to our picturesque clubhouse. We’ve had some close calls with rampant shots, but so far so good.
#18 is a totally wooded par 5 with an elevated green and the original barn (1861) as a back drop – a rural picture post card especially in the spring.
#23 is called the “cemetery hole.” One of the harder par 4’s on the course.
4. What element of the golf courses might be missed by golfers during their first or second playing?
If your first playing is a round of 18, you’ll miss an entire 9 😉
5. What are the secrets to playing the golf courses successfully?
Stay below the hole on 1-9- meaning leave yourself an uphill putt if possible. It’s not a long course so focus on keeping the ball in play as opposed to hitting it far. Position yourself properly and you can score.
6. Does Terry Hills have any plans to alter the courses, to enhance their playability or make them more challenging?
We don’t plan on altering the course, but we did just implement the PGA’s “Tee it Forward” tees in 2015. These orange tees are designed to make the course more player-friendly and enjoyable.
With “Tee it Forward”, golfers can speed up play and score better by playing off a set of closer tees more appropriate to their skill level. More amateur golfers can now hit an iron into the green instead of a longer club, putt for birdies and pars more often, and have more fun!
We will also continue on our tree management program (350 removed over the last 5 years). Our goal is to keep the spacing at a needed distance so that all our machines can operate easier and the soil will not erode under them.
7. Talk a little about the outings and events that Terry Hills hosts. What makes them unique to western New York golf.
We could be here all day talking about all of our fantastic events! We are proud to host hundreds of great charity, corporate, and social events throughout the year – both on the golf course and in our banquet facility.
Our most notable though, is the Jim Kelly Celebrity Classic. It is easily our largest tournament, topping out at 300 golfers, with 40 or more celebrities. To add to the mix, the entire Buffalo Bills franchise joined us for 2015’s event. We thought that this tournament couldn’t get any more exciting, but between a returning & healthy Jim Kelly, and all of the Bills’ players & coaches, we were wrong. Batavia is still part of Bills country, after all, so this definitely helped give us a little edge in the WNY golf world!
In general, our 27 holes allow our tournaments to expand into larger numbers (140-200) to speed play up. Time is so important and using all 27 does the job.
8. In addition to the golf, what brings people back to Terry Hills?
Our Staff – friendly and consistent and will do the little extras to make your day!
Our Snack Shop – specifically the Zweigles hot dogs (yes, seriously)! Golfers and diners alike rave about them, and you really can’t beat a delicious, quick meal while soaking up the sun on our beautiful patio.
Our Restaurant – from great sandwiches, burgers, salads, and entrees, we’ve got something for everyone. Our Seafood Bisque usually takes the top mention, though. We’re always hearing that it’s the “best bisque ever”.
Sunday Brunch – easily the best Sunday Brunch in the area. Breakfast & Lunch favorites such as Belgian waffles, Eggs Benedict, Seafood Stuffed Cod, and so many more. Even better: golfers save $2 off brunch before or after their round!
9. What question haven’t we asked, that you wish we had? Ask it and answer it, please.
What is Terry Hills’ best kept secret?
Our Superintendent – Thad Thompson. It’s no secret that our course is expertly maintained, or that we’re always one of the first courses to dry up after the winter thaw or a large rainfall. The secret behind all of that is Thad; irrigation expert, course maintenance guru, and recent recipient of the Melrose Leadership Academy scholarship for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. Thad was just selected as one of only 16 other golf course superintendents nationally to receive this award. We are very proud of him and grateful for the amazing work he does for the course.