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Turning Stone Casino adds new golfing gem

VERONA, N.Y. - Cloudy skies and misting rain couldn't damper the excitement at the opening of the Kaluhyat Golf Club at the Oneida Indian Nation's Turning Stone Casino Resort. Kaluhyat, an Oneida word meaning other side of the sky, is the newest addition to the just 10-year-old casino.

Nation representative Ray Halbritter and members of the Oneida Men's Council joined course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. and several other local business and golf industry gurus for the rainy day first round. Jones, the son of legendary golf course architect Robert Trent Jones, has created golfing masterpieces on more than 200 courses throughout the world. Many of his courses are considered to be among the best in the world. Also playing in the first group at Kaluhyat was this year's NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship Coach Jim Boeheim from Syracuse University.

Construction for the course began in May 2002. Jones in his opening remarks commended Halbritter and the Oneida Indian Nation for having more than a dream but having a vision. "You can't have dreams without vision and we have created a dream."

According to Jones, Kaluhyat is one of the most difficult courses in New York State, second only to Bethpage State Golf Club in Farmington, host of the Men's 2002 U.S. Open. However with the five different tee markers, Kaluhyat offers a challenging but fair round for all players.

Jones went on to discuss the layout and design of the course. Nature and its surroundings are the backdrop for the course, with three very different elements all coming into play; grasslands, woodlands and wetlands. Staying with the gaming theme of the adjacent casino, Jones compared the different holes to the suits in a deck of cards, saying that each of the holes has its own distinct features but works well with the other holes to complete the breathtaking package.

As rain showers intensified, Halbritter thanked everyone for their continual support of the nation.

"Robert Trent Jones Jr. has given the Nation, Turning Stone and the golfers of the Northeast a beautiful gift, one in harmony with Mother Earth, and one that speaks to the soul of anyone who walks ? if you love the game of golf, you will love Kaluhyat and appreciate the work of this master designer."

A two-year expansion project is under way at the casino that is slated to include another golf course, a luxury suite hotel, a 19-story hotel tower, and a 5,100 seat events center. Kaluhyat shares its clubhouse with the Shenendoah Golf Course, the Rick Smith-designed course that opened four years ago. A third course designed by Tom Fazio is currently in the works and should open in the summer of 2004. These three courses could make Turning Stone Casino a premiere golfing destination.

When the development project is complete, it is expected to bring another 1,000 jobs to the Oneida Nation's existing 3,300-person work force.