Adirondack Adventure

The Whiteface Club & Resort
The Whiteface Club & Resort

Each fall it hard not to glow with admiration for the Adirondack Region of New York State.  The low-slung ridges of its mountain ridges absolutely glow with the bright palette of the turning leaves, making for a vibrant backdrop to any activity.  The views are spectacular and matched with an abundance of recreational options provided by the surrounding towns and natural preserves; FALL is the peak time of year for an Adirondack Adventure.

Located on the eastern side of upper New York State, bordering Lake Champlain and nearby Vermont, the territory known as the Adirondack Region, is expansive geographically yet is sparsely populated.  The result is a wondrous natural playground where peace of mind, and quiet settings to match, is easy to find.  More than 3,000 ponds and lakes only enhance the backdrop.

While a visit to the Adirondacks anytime of year has its merits, it is the fall season that is ideal.  Cool, clear days, amazing scenery, and a reduced volume of tourists allow for a relaxed way to enjoy all that it offers.

For readers from the Flagstick region, a simple drive across the U.S./ Canadian border at Cornwall or entry at US Interstate 97 between Quebec/Vermont will bring you directly in to the area defined as the Adirondacks.  With access so simple, how could you not make the venture?

This region is one known as being a place where people have travelled to enjoy all aspects of outdoor recreation for more than a century.  Predominantly a rural area, it is marked by a smattering of key populated areas (Lake Placid for example) and a number of world class resorts (The Sagamore for one) but overall it is dominated by small, charming towns and simple but enjoyable golf courses.  The result is a place where the number of bed & breakfast heavily outnumbers the large hotels and where high green fees at big-ticket courses are also an exception.  In a sentence – big open spaces, affordable pricing, and relaxing times.  If that is what you are looking for in a vacation – the Adirondacks delivers.

Golf Variety

With more than forty golf courses in the region, there is a wide of options to satisfy your needs.  From simple nine hole courses that you can access for a few dollars, to higher end resort courses in pristine conditions with attentive service, from courses more than a century old to those opened just this season, you can pick whatever fits the bill for you.

With so many courses, a plethora of visitor attraction and literally hundreds of accommodation options, planning is a key component to having a great Adirondack adventure.  All parts of the region are accessible by car within a few hours so choosing a base for your stay is a matter of personal preference.  Certain places will put you much closer to golf courses and urban traffic (as mild as that is) while others will put you deep into the country – away from the wilds of the developed world and closer to those of nature.

The heart of the region, around Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, and Tupper Lake are popular options.  Lake George to the south is also a hot spot while locations on the outer rim of the area – like Malone to the north or Old Forge to the west are also attractive options.  It is all to your mood, budget, and plan for your stay.

An attractive way to start your visit is with a “Canadian Friendly” golf package in Malone, New York.  A short ride from the Flagstick region (less than 2 hours from Ottawa) Malone Golf Club has been offering golf packages targeted at Canadians for many years.  Their “Golf at Par” packages include two nights accommodations, two days of club storage, along with your cart fee for the first round of the day (many people play 36 a day over the two courses – East and West as unlimited golf is part of the deal).  You also get the added bonus of a short game clinic by one of their PGA pros.  Five local, low-key establishments offer accommodations.  Don’t expect luxury but you are guaranteed that you can enjoy a lot of golf and good times with friends at a reasonable rate.

As for the courses themselves, Robert Trent Jones renovated both extensively, ensuring layouts that are fun to play, and tough enough for even the best players.  At just over 6500 yards each they will not force you to bomb the ball a long way but varied terrain and mature trees will make each round trip a different one.  The East Course is an architectural delight with a delightful front none followed by a more modern, brawny back nine featuring large elevation changes.  The West is a course where more strategy and accuracy will foster success.  Play them both on your first visit, and then you can make up the rest of each day playing your choice.

Not far from Malone, in Plattsburgh, New York you have another economical and attractive golfing option in the Adirondack Golf & Country Club.  Considered the finest course in Clinton County, this gem open in 1990.  It can play almost 7,000 yards and is more reminiscent of something you would find in the Carolina with its’ tree-lined fairways and abundance of wildlife.

From Malone and Plattsburgh it is but a quick and scenic jaunt into the heart of the Adirondack Region, closer to the two-time Olympic Village of Lake Placid.  Here golf is in abundance, with more than a quarter of the courses in the region nearby.

Resorts took hold in this area in the late 1800’s, making it a fashionable stopover for the elite of American society, some shuttling between their New York City homes and their Thousand Island cottages – some establishing their own summer getaways right in the Adirondacks.

The Crowne Plaza Resort & Golf Club, Lake Placid is one of the marquee properties in the region and a popular stop for ardent golfers.  Spread over 100 acres, this all-encompassing resort includes 199 rooms of varied levels and the best part – 45 holes of golf.

In 2000 this resort was named by a leading American golf publication as one of the “Eight Icons Of American Resort Golf.”  It is easy to see why.  Among the 45 holes of golf at the resort are the 18-hole Upper or Mountain Course, the 18-hole Lower or Links Course, and a 9-hole Executive Course that rounds out the trio.

Certainly because of the terrain in the area, the Mountain Course is what you might expect golf to be in the Lake Placid area.  The course was built in 1901 with a design by Scotsman Alex Findlay with Augusta National designer, Dr. Alistair Mackenzie, renovating several holes in 1913.  From the first tee shot, you are set high above the valley below and it is hard not to be distracted by the view for long enough to strike a golf ball in an adequate and appropriate manner.  The Mountain course may look like a nice warm-up course for your trip with a par of 70 and a maximum length of 6156 yards but a slope of 126 and a rating that is higher than the par belies it’s true difficulty.  The rapidly changing elevation leaves many golfers with testy shot situations.

Although the fairway undulations and rises and drops in elevation are not as common on the Links Course at Lake Placid Resort you are still blessed with great views of nearby Mt. Marcy and Mt. Colden, New York State’s highest peaks.  Seymour Dunn originally designed this course that now measures 7006 yards and plays to a par of 71, in 1909.  The Scottish-born Dunn was an architect, club maker, golf teacher, author, and director of golf at the Lake Placid Club for 21 years.  The golf club was given a modern face-lift courtesy of Quebec based architect Graham Cooke.

When you find yourself in the mood to sharpen your game with a little practice or just want a great way to spend some time with a less-avid golfer, the Pristine nine makes a fair selection to meet your golfing needs.  Seven par three holes and two short par-fours are fun to play and the courses measures a comfortable 1534 yards.

Equally as grand and historic as any other area resort is The Whiteface Club and Resort on Lake Placid that was founded in 1888.  The first nine holes of golf came in to play in 1898.  The course was located some two miles from the original hotel and guests endured a horse and carriage ride if they wanted to play a little golf.  By 1915 a new nine-hole course was constructed closer to the resort for the convenience of the guests.  The course grew to eighteen holes in 1930 under the guidance of architect John Van Cleek with the irrepressible Walter Hagen acting as design consultant.

The par-71 course at Whiteface has been carved from the forest located on the west side of Lake Placid and is set in the shadow of the mountain from which the resort draw’s it’s name.  At 6490 yards from the back tees, the challenge of this course rests in requiring all challengers to be accurate enough to avoid the trees and numerous bunkers.  The small and sloping greens demand precision approach shots if the player wants a short putt for par or better.

The staff at Whiteface says that every hole is memorable at their club but two that really stand out are the sixth and fourteenth holes.  The sixth, a shorter par five hole at 490 yards from the tips is strategically designed so that the player must think their way through the hole to achieve optimum results and avoid the possibility of recording a high number on their score card.  Three iron shots is probably the best way to approach the hole with the third one playing to an elevated green.  The fourteenth hole offers one of the sternest tests of golf in the region as the par three hole reaches 218 yards long at its maximum yardage.  Golfers must be brave and bold on their tee shot to avoid a pond and the trees that guard both sides of the hole.  A strong group of bunkers also guard the putting surface, adding to the difficulty the hole poses.

A comfortable place to lay your head while in Lake Placid would be one of the Adirondack style cottages located at Whiteface Club & Resort.  Appointed in a Great Camp décor, the cottages have plenty of room for a larger group and features nice touches like authentic stone fireplaces.  It has the feel of an old style cabin but with all the modern amenities you would come to expect at a fine resort.

Golfers seeking a fine golf course with attached accommodations should check out the Saranac Inn Golf & Country Club.  Located about thirty kilometres from the Village of Lake Placid, the Saranac Inn course is yet another fine Seymour Dunn design created near the turn of the 20th century.  The course was part of the original complex that included the Saranac Inn Hotel that was one of the most famous resorts in the Adirondacks but has since been torn down.  Of the 300 courses that Seymour Dunn created in his lifetime, it is said that he believed Saranac to be his greatest achievement in course design.  Although free of the many hazards that can clutter up a modern course, the trouble and difficulty of this course forces players to play strategically along it’s 6631 yards if they are to master it’s nuances.  Golfers here will also enjoy unobstructed views of the local mountains as they make their way through the plentiful balsam trees that mark the course and reveal a wide array of bird life at all times.  If golfers are lucky enough and have plans for a several day stay at Saranac they can try and book one of the ten units available at the motel that overlooks the first tee.

It seems only appropriate that Lake Placid should have a golf course named in honour of one of it’s most popular sons who, despite making his own mark on professional golf, including a win at the U.S. Open and Masters in the same year, is probably best remembered for his playoff loss to Gene Sarazen in the 1935 Masters Tournament.  The Town of North Elba owns the Craig Wood Golf Course and being municipally owned allow it to offer probably one of the best green fee deals in the area.  This golf club will forever change your perspective on a “municipal” golf course.  The striking Seymour Dunn design of 1925 resulted in a golf course that appears to be literally carved out of the wilderness.  Golfers wanting to master this design will have to possess some of the qualities that made Craig Wood such a fine player.  Several holes require strong carries over hazards and waste areas while the trees are ever-present and willing to gobble up a golf ball or two with ease.

South from Lake Placid there are further pleasures, both golfing and otherwise, to be enjoyed near the Lake George region of the Adirondacks.  But before you trundle off to Lake George you may want to enjoy a round at the newest golf course in the region, the High Peaks Golf Course in Newcomb.  Just opened in 2005, it is already thrilling visitors with its combination of low green fees and scenery enhanced by massive elevation drops that create panoramic views.  Owned by the town, this municipal 9-hole facility shows vast potential.  For golfers from western Canada it will remind them of playing in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Lake George is a vibrant tourist destination, with plenty of lake cruises and other recreation options to get your attention.  One of the great landmarks along its’ shores is The Sagamore.  This grand resort is a pure white beacon known as one of the most family-friendly resorts in the region.  Accommodations range from condominiums all the way to the “Castle,” a secluded six-bedroom home along the lake.  While many people will choose to lay by the lake, take a bike ride, or even attend sailing school, golfers always delight in their Donald Ross designed golf course.  Vintage 1928, this par-70 layout was completely restored the original blueprints as part of the resorts $75 million dollar makeover in 1985.  In a few words, it is simply stunning with holes laid out in a variety of settings from lake view to meadow locations.  It is often mentioned in lists for the top public courses in the state.

There you have it, a basic agenda for a golfing jaunt through the mighty Adirondack Region.  With so much natural beauty, playing golf can be an unrivalled experience here, especially in the fall season.  Best of all, away from the course there are plenty of towns and villages to explore whether looking for antiques or just going for a refreshing walk.  Just once in your life, make the trip – and don’t forget your clubs.  You won’t regret it – or forget it!

Fast Facts

Essentials
www.adk.com

Lake Placid/Essex County Convention
and Visitors Bureau
216 Main St.
Lake Placid, NY 12946
(518) 523-2445
www.lakeplacid.com

Golf & Resorts

Adirondack Golf and Country Club

Peru, NY

(518) 643-8403

Craig Wood Country Club

Lake Placid, NY

(518) 523-9811

High Peaks

Newcomb, NY

(518) 582-2300

Lake Placid Club Resort (Crowne Plaza)

Lake Placid, NY

(518) 523-4460

Malone Golf Course

Malone, NY

(518) 483-2926

The Sagamore

Bolton Landing, NY

(518) 644-9400

Whiteface Club & Resort

Lake Placid, NY

(518) 523–2551