It’s best known for the U.S. hockey team’s “Miracle on Ice” at the 1980 Winter Olympics, but Lake Placid in upstate New York offers special moments on turf, too. There’s some fine golf here in the heart of the Adirondacks, a six-million-acre state park the size of neighboring Vermont.
Golf was part of the Lake Placid landscape long before Herb Brooks brought his hockey team to town. Former Masters and U.S. Open champion Craig Wood grew up caddying on a now-defunct hotel course here, and legends Bobby Jones and Gene Sarazen played exhibitions in the area. Now it’s your turn.
Fly to Lake Placid Municipal Airport, a mile south of the village, or Adirondack Regional Airport, 16 miles west in Lake Clear. Make your way to Saranac Inn Golf Club, designed by Seymour Dunn at the turn of the 20th century. Set on the banks of Upper Saranac Lake, the course measures just 6,557 yards from the back tees, but plays much tougher than the scorecard says. Be sure to avoid the dramatic — and punitive — bunkers at the 425-yard 17th, where sand encircles mounds of dense fescue.
From Saranac, drive 23 miles to Lake Placid. On the way, enjoy some local flavor at Tail O’ The Pup in Ray Brook; those in the know carry a torch for the succulent ribs. Check in at Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa, a beautifully restored traditional building with rich, mahogany interiors. It’s a cheaper option than The Point, a mansion built in 1933 for William Avery Rockefeller with rooms from $1,250 per night. Mirror Lake is within easy walking distance of Main Street and across the road from The Cottage, a cozy spot for sunset cocktails and casual dining.
Skate over to Lake Placid Resort Hotel & Golf Club, where the Links Course stretches to 7,006 yards and the behemoth 618-yard 15th overlooks Mt. Colden and Mt. Marcy, the highest point in the state. The Mountain Course and a 9-hole executive layout make for pleasant strolls, but lack the bite of their big brother. Have lunch at the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery on Mirror Lake Drive, where the local brews have won presidential notice — the staff remembers Bill Clinton’s sampling Ubu Ale during his visit in 2000.
|Lake Placid Club
Greens fees $50 – $69 (Links), $35 – $45 (Mountain); 800-874-1980;
|Saranac Inn Golf Club
Greens fees $45 – $60;518-891-1402;
|Whiteface Club & Resort
Greens fees $55 – $69; 800-422-6757;
|Craig Wood Golf Course
Greens fees $42 – $45; 518-523-9811;
Spend your afternoon either on the greens or on the ice. A 10-minute drive across town takes you to Whiteface Club & Resort, which boasts a perilously narrow 6,345-yard track dating back to 1898 that is credited to John Van Kleek and Walter Hagen. Alternatively, you can skip reruns on ESPN Classics and relive Mike Eruzione’s winning goal on the rink at Olympic Center or tour other sites of gold-medal glory (orda.org). On August 21, the rink hosts the annual Summer Ice Revue, featuring stars of figure skating.
End the day with your own highlight show over dinner at the Great Adirondack Steak & Seafood Company on Main Street, which has its own in-house microbrewery.
Make an early tee time at Craig Wood Golf Course on the edge of town. This challenging 6,554-yard layout has two distinct nines — one sits in the valley, the other in the woods — and spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. After Labor Day, play a quick nine at the Ausable Club (518-576-4411) in St. Huberts, about halfway to Westport. This exclusive, old-money establishment opens to the public at the end of the summer. Just drop your $10 greens fee in the wooden box.
As a final note, Lake Placid hosts 2,000 competitors in the Ironman Triathlon on July 25. Things kick back a bit on July 31, when Rosanne Cash headlines the Songs at the Lake Music Festival at the Olympic Speed Skating Oval. Either way, you won’t go wrong with a summer weekend in the Adirondacks.