Butternut Valley Golf: Expect the unexpected

NEW BERLIN – When looking for golf courses to review, the number one rule was that it had to be 18 holes.

That was about the hardest and fastest rule in my golfing constitution; however, rules are meant to be broken, correct?

Butternut Valley Golf, located about seven miles north of Morris and just off state Route 51, has forced me to rethink every one of my criteria for golf courses.

In week three of our summer tour, I brought along my stepson, Joe Mioduszewski. If you follow the sports pages, you may have seen Joe's results as a three-year member of the Norwich varsity golf team. For a young buck, he's as analytical and discerning a golfer as most adult players I know, and this was also a good opportunity for us to play our first round of the season together.

Three years ago I played Butternut Valley Golf, and my one lasting impression was that it was "tough." Joe had no idea what to expect, and considering the course is located in a hyper-rural area, his expectations were not high.

Nearing the conclusion of our second nine-hole tour of the course, Joe said, "This course is awesome. If someone has the time and is in the Morris area, they should try this course. It's high quality."

The land on which the course is constructed used to be a potato farm, owned the Elliotts. Gary Elliott, a third generation potato farmer, was the original owner and course designer, and he certainly knew what he was doing.

Elliott had the course designed and irrigation mapped for 18 holes, but due to budget issues, only nine holes were built, said original course investor and current owner, Tony Condurso.

Initially, Condurso was the equivalent of a silent partner, and while the course's profitability had promise, it never quite fulfilled expectations. "This was Gary's dream," Condurso said of the course, who added that he didn't become the full-time, hands-on owner until this year. "When I got in as an investor, I was hoping to get my money back, and maybe get a little bit of an extra return. That didn't happen."

The course was built less than 10 years ago and has undergone multiple management and ownership changes. Condurso is now the mortgage holder, and his thought was, "everyone else has had a shot (at making this profitable), let me have a shot."

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