By Elizabeth Riggs

Do the warming temperatures have you ready to hit the links? This spring, head out to Ellicottville’s Holiday Valley for beautiful views, challenging greens, and a course that has something to offer everyone.

Holiday Valley Golf Course, which fully-opened all 18 holes last Saturday, boasts an 18-hole, par 70 Double Black Diamond course which is both challenging and well-maintained. In 2009, Holiday Valley won a nod from Golf Magazine in 2009 for one of the best redesigns in the country.

The course offers a blend of both hilly and flat terrain, with a front nine built around ponds and bunkers, and the back nine laid out around the lower ski slopes, which brings into play many elevation changes.

According to Director of Golf and Summer Operations Steve Carney, who is one of 220 PGA Master Golf Professionals in the United States, there are several new things to look forward to this year at Holiday Valley.

“In 2009, we did a complete renovation of the golf course and we are continuing with upgrading small to medium projects. This year in particular we will be continuing to rebuild six to 10 bunkers and we are now on a continual program to speed up and make the greens more true,” Carney said.

In addition, new equipment has been purchased to help make the course more challenging.

“We have a state-of- the-art rough mower and a mid-sized mower for the steep hills. Throughout the winter, we rebuilt all of our equipment and sharpening reels,” Carney said.

For those looking to tune up their golf game, Holiday Valley offers various clinics for both men and women in all age ranges. In July, the course hosts Mel Sole Golf School, ranked by Golf Magazine as one of the “Top 25 USA Golf Schools” and awarded a Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor.

The Mel Sole School is taught by Mel Sole himself, a master golf professional with over 50 years of teaching experience. The school begins June 26 and allows golfers to choose from 3 half-day schools, 1- and 2-day programs, private lessons or group clinics, which include video analysis and personal lesson and drill videos that are emailed to participants.

“We have three instructors at all times and we have several junior instruction sessions throughout summer and a beginner ladies instruction program every Wednesday,” Carney said of routine Holiday Valley programs.

Holiday Valley also has a golf shop that rivals anything else in the area, one that was voted among “America’s Best Golf Shops” by PGA Magazine. The Pro Shop at Holiday Valley is stocked with men’s, women’s and junior Callaway, Ping, Cleveland, Titleist, Cobra, Nike, Taylor Made, Odyssey, and new this year, Srixon golf clubs.

“We carry over 400 pair of shoes and over 50 different types of golf balls. We have as large an inventory as you will see anywhere,” said Carney.

But most importantly, according to Carney, Holiday Valley is a course that is as impressive as you will find anywhere in the area.

“It’s a challenging course for all abilities because we have four sets of tees and lots of sod bunkers. You pick the tees that best challenge you,” Carney said. “Holiday Valley is one of the most beautiful, challenging, and quaint little places that there is.”

Holiday Valley is also a great day-trip destination for golfers from the Cleveland and Pittsburgh areas, and offers three different golf and lodging packages for visitors, ranging from a course-side Inn at Holiday Valley, the Tamarack Club located on green nine, or a rental condominium, townhouse or chalet from Holiday Valley Rental Management.

For more information on greens fees, lodging, or golf leagues and clinics, visit the golf page on the Holiday Valley website: www.holidayvalley.com.