Driving Toward a Change of Season at Holiday Valley, Ellicottville

By Megan Sorokes

The brisk bite of winter is waning, and off in the distance, golfers at Holiday Valley hear the familiar call of the course … FORE! With a projected opening date of April 10, 2015, it’s time to start polishing the old nine iron, practicing the perfect putt and planning a trip to one of Western New York’s premier golf resorts.


Steve Carney, PGA Master Professional and Director of Golf at Holiday Valley, is excited, and rightfully so. He recently hired Jerry Martin as superintendent for the Double Black Diamond course at Holiday Valley, starting in mid-January.

“Jerry has 40 years of experience as a golf course superintendent in our northern climates,” Carney said. “His knowledge in understanding course challenges is endless. He’s a very good player and understands what is important to most players. He will continue the good conditions we have always had at the course, as well as improve the greens and all playing turf.”

Speaking of turf, Carney noted that Holiday Valley will be improving all bunkers on the course this year by rebuilding, adding new drainage and new sand. “We’ll also continue making all greens smoother and same speed every day,” he said. “Over the years we have always worked at improving all playing conditions and will just continue in this endeavor. Our past course superintendents have done an outstanding job, and we are lucky to continue with what they have done.”


Anyone who has teed off at Holiday Valley is familiar with the natural beauty of the course, as well as its challenging terrain. With 18 holes spread over 6,500 yards, the par 70 course boasts “awesome elevations, many creeks and ravines, incredible scenery and a laidback atmosphere” – sure to give any golfer an unforgettable experience.

“Our front nine is modestly difficult,” Carney said. “Enter the back nine and you’ll find all challenging and beautiful holes. We have six holes that could be our signature hole,” he added, noting Holes 11, 13 and 15 among favorites at Holiday Valley. “Hole 11 receives the most comments for its challenge, and it’s probably the most difficult 340-yard, par 4 hole you’ll ever play. But the reward of a good score will be something you’ll talk about forever.”

“Hole 13, our double fairway hole is the most beautiful hole you’ll ever play,” Carney continued, “and Hole 15, a 230-yard, par 3 with a 250-foot elevation change is a classic. Fantastic!”


For golfers looking for special events and group outings, Holiday Valley is ready to please. In addition to the Mel Sole Golf School, which returns in May for three months, the resort offers leagues for men, women and couples, as well as special packages for groups.

“Mel Sole’s three-day clinic has been with us for 12 years, bringing a lot of teaching experience,” Carney said of the South African golf veteran’s golf school.

For anyone who has never golfed (or hasn’t golfed at Holiday Valley), it’s a great place to start. Carney said the experience of the game coupled with the atmosphere of Ellicottville bring an excitement to the game that’s tough to beat.

“We have PGA qualified instructors, and we offer a private learning environment,” Carney noted. “Golf is the challenge of a lifetime. You can get better every day, and most importantly, it’s a game you can play well into your retirement. The Ellicottville atmosphere continues to be an awesome destination with endless shops and restaurants … it’s a hit. Golfing here, you’ll meet many new people and have fun forever.”


The 18-hole excursion is over. You’re ready for some great food and a place to rest. Reward yourself at the 19th Hole … it’s time to check out the Tamarack Club and John Harvard’s Brew House, both conveniently located at the resort. Jane Eshbaugh and Kristen Sciara of Holiday Valley’s marketing team said the Tamarack Club is Holiday Valley’s premier course-side / pool-side condominium and hotel, offering an array of amenities and conveniently located to everything Ellicottville has to offer.

“It’s really nice lodging, steps from the course with a pool and hot tubs,” Eshbaugh said. “Falling Waters spa and John Harvard’s restaurant are right on site.”

Mmmmm, John Harvard’s. Have you been? If not, grab your golf buddies, friends or family and head over for “a casual dining experience that makes you feel comfortable and welcome.”

“Our service is family-friendly, and we love to make new friends,” said Franco Brady, General Manager of Holiday Valley’s Food and Beverage Service (which includes John Harvard’s Brew House). Brady noted that diners at John Harvard’s will now enjoy cuisine from the restaurant’s new chef, Rory Mosher. “He’s actually a local chef that started with us when John Harvard’s first opened,” Brady said. “He is a creative cook in the kitchen and brings some good flavors together when he is using fresh fish, scallops or local meats.”

According to Brady, diners should try Rory’s Osso Bucco, as well as the restaurant’s brick oven pizza, calamari, lobster mac ‘n cheese (a crowd favorite), house-made soups and world-class meatloaf. He said he doesn’t expect many changes in the restaurant this year because “the concept works.”

“We like John Harvard’s for what it is, and guests don’t want us to change that,” Brady said. “If I tried to take lobster mac off the menu, there would be a revolt in this town!”

With 24 draft beers on tap, including John Harvard’s own brews and local suds from Ellicottville Brewing Company and Southern Tier Brewery, the brew house is a prime place for golfers to pick apart their day on the course.

“Golfers come to John Harvard’s after a round of golf to have a round and discuss their ‘hits and misses’,” Brady said. “We have golfer-friendly bartenders and great appetizers to feed your hunger after a strenuous round, and the outdoor patio is open during spring, summer and fall for golfers to stop by before heading home. Every day is a holiday, and every meal is a banquet at John Harvard’s.”

For more information on John Harvard’s, call 716-699-5350. Additional information about the Tamarack Club and reservations is available online or by calling 800-323-0020 or 716-699-2345.


Don’t forget, golfer or not, Holiday Valley and the village of Ellicottville offer something for everyone to enjoy.

“Try a little of everything,” Eshbaugh said, noting the availability of Sky High Adventure Park, Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster, Climbing Forest, hikes to Spruce Lake, mountain or road biking, shopping and strolls around town. “Ellicottville is special for its friendly people, the fun things we have to offer and the great festivals. Enjoy the relaxed pace of this rural setting where the friendly folks of Ellicottville are really glad to have you visit.”

Ready to plan your trip? Check out Holiday Valley on the web at

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