2016 INTERVIEW SERIES: TERRY HILLS GOLF COURSE
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.
Employee Spotlight: Kelli
Kelli is our Bar Manager. But you already knew that. Or at least you might’ve known if you’ve ever been in for a drink, a wedding, a meal, a banquet of any sort.
That’s because Kelli has been with Terry Hills as long as the banquet facility has been with Terry Hills. When we built the new clubhouse in 2005, Kelli was right there with it, and has loyally stuck by our side (and behind the bar) ever since.
Even if you don’t know her (though many of you do), you’ve most likely heard her. Kelli is the perfect bartender & manager: friendly, outgoing, organized, and loud :) We’re beyond lucky to have had her for what will be our 12th season.
So since so many of you love Kelli like we do (even Goldberg^), we thought it was time to share some of the lesser-known facts about her:
Favorite Drink to Make:
Muddled Old-Fashioned. I can pour a perfect draft too J
Best Concert You’ve Ever Been To:
AC/DC was by far was the greatest show! But Tesla is my all-time favorite band, AND I did sing with Bret Michaels on stage. Best day of my life!!
Favorite “Guilty-Pleasure” Food:
Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzels, or anything chocolate (Dark is preferred if anyone wants to bring me a treat)
I guess a Cougar LOL
Best Meal I Cook:
Grilled Cheese – just ask my daughter Bailee
BTS (Behind the Scenes) of the Wine Dinner
This Wednesday, May 11th prepare to be Wined and Dined. That is, if you are coming to our Taste of Spring Wine Dinner. It’s the fourth installment in our Wine Dinner series, where we’ve paired 5 unique tastings courses with 5 great wines.
If you’re a wine lover, than this event is a no-brainer. Even if you’re not huge on wine, the meal itself is worth coming for. From encrusted Chilean seabass, creamy orzo risotto, baked oysters blue, jerk chicken, jicama watermelon salad, dark chocolate red wine cake, and more, it’s a foodie’s dream.
Sometimes even more fun than the dinner itself, are the preparations. Today we’re here to take you behind the scenes of one of our wine dinners, to learn what really goes into the making of a 5 course wine and food pairing.
1. Brainstorm the menu.
It’s like the age old question: what came first- the chicken or the egg? Same goes here. What comes first – the food or the wines?
Really, it can be either. Letting the dishes dictate the wine is the conventional order, and the way we went about it this time. On the docket is the reversal. Choosing wines first and the food second. That way, you know you are starting with exceptional stand-alone wines, and you can enhance them even more with the right menu.
2. Choose a Theme – Or Not.
Before finalizing the menu, we needed to decide on a theme, or lack thereof. We toyed with the idea of a regionally-focused menu, like an all-Italian meal, or an “Around the World” tasting. The other factor in play is the wines. All reds? All whites? All NYS Wines? In the end, we chose a “Spring” theme: featuring fresh, Spring ingredients & flavors.
Even the dessert went green for Spring
3. Pair Everything.
This is easily, our favorite part. We too, eat our way through 5 courses, and drink our way numerous wines. It’s easy for a robust, dry red to taste like water with the wrong dish. That’s why it’s important to have a wide variety of wines to sample with each course, so that we know we are choosing the best possible pairing. But, a sip here and a sip there add up, so we make sure to drink responsibly (this is part of the work day, afterall).
So much wine, so little time
Wine Print Outs - it's a very technical process
4. Wow the Guests.
This one is obvious. You probably know that when you sign on for a 5 course meal, it won’t just be your typical dinner. But we really want to make sure of it. New flavors, unique dishes, complex wines, outstanding service, great company, and relaxing ambiance. Not to mention that since each dinner has its own menu, this truly is a one-of-a-kind experience.
Are you sold yet? We hope so. Seating for Wednesday night’s Taste of Spring Wine Dinner is very limited , so call 585.343.0642 to reserve a spot!