Like U.S. hockey team, golfers can strike gold in Lake Placid

By Darryl Berger, Contributor

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. - Lake Placid most often conjures up images of the U.S. Olympic hockey team's memorable gold-medal-winning performance, known as the "Miracle on Ice."

The small upstate New York town hosted the international sporting festival twice, in 1932 and 1980. The latter creating the stage for the Americans' unlikely win over the Soviet Union and eventual gold-medal celebration in the hockey competition.

What's lesser known is that Lake Placid is a better-than-average golf destination, especially if your budget is a little tight. Within an hour's drive of the small hamlet you can play some outstanding, classically designed mountain layouts.

In general, the amenities are few and the golf is basic, but if you don't mind a bare-bones experience, the region is well worth your time.

Must plays

Lake Placid Resort offers two great old courses offering distinctly different experiences. The Mountain Course opened in 1910 and remodeled by legendary architect Alister MacKenzie in 1931. It's a great layout, but play with someone who knows the course or be prepared to be frustrated by some of the blind shots. The Links Course hides little, but is still a worthy challenge and perhaps the better of the two. The resort also provides a higher level of customer service than other courses in the region.

Saranac Inn Golf and Country Club: Located about 20 miles from Lake Placid, it's certainly worth the ride if you're in the area. It was laid out more than 100 years ago by Seymour Dunn, who was the architect of many of the Adirondack courses. The old-style bunkering is visually interesting and a seemingly ever-present hazard.

Craig Wood Golf Course: This municipal layout is named after the region's most famous golfing son. Craig Wood may not have been the Tiger Woods of his day, but he won two majors in 1941. The course is far superior to your typical muni, with a very strong back nine.

Malone Golf Club: About an hour north of Lake Placid, this club features two outstanding courses. The East course opened in 1939 and the West in 1987. Both layouts are well above average, while contrasting different eras of golf course design.

Solid Seconds

Whiteface Club in Lake Placid offers some great scenery and it's currently undergoing an upgrade to improve conditions.

Lake Champlain is the backdrop for Westport Country Club.

Tupper Lake Country Club was designed by Donald Ross.

Adirondack Golf and Country Club in Peru opened in 1990 and is one of the last courses to be built in the region.

Stay and play

The Lake Placid region offers a wide selection of accommodations. The Lake Placid Resort ((877) 570-5891) sits above the town with pretty vistas of the lake and two of the best golf courses in the area.

The Golden Arrow Hotel ((800) 582-5540) is great for families and sits lakeside, while the recently opened Whiteface Lodge ((800) 903-4045) is elegant and built in a traditional Adirondack style.

The inn at Saranac Inn Golf and Country Club ((518) 891-1402) has long since been torn down, but a 10-unit motel provides modest accommodations just steps from the first tee.

Dining out

You have plenty of options for food in Lake Placid. Nicola's on Main and Grill 211 ((518) 523-5853) operate out of the same building. Both are upscale with the grill offering a steak house experience and Nicola's Mediterranean cuisine.

The Mirror Lake Inn ((518) 523-2544) is as upscale as it gets with an Adirondack take on traditional dishes. You sit right on the water at the Boat House where the menu leans appropriately toward seafood. The Lake Placid Resort operates the eatery.

Off course

The great outdoors is definitely the place to be in the Adirondacks. There are lakes everywhere for boating, fishing and other water sports.

There's also a lot of mountains for climbing and or hiking. Whiteface Mountain is the dominant peak in the area and a focal point for lots of fun. There is a gondola ride, nature treks, mountain biking and for the less athletically inclined a drive along the scenic Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway.

The Olympic Center is right on Main Street and inside is the Herb Brooks Arena, site of the "Miracle on Ice." The building also houses the Olympic Museum, which documents the 1932 and 1980 Winter Games.

A half-hour southwest of Lake Placid, in the town of Blue Mountain Lake, is the impressive Adirondack Museum ( It'll take a minimum of three hours to tour the almost two dozen structures that make up the compound. Get the overall run down of stuff to do from the local visitor's bureau at

The verdict

It's about as far from Myrtle Beach as you can get, figuratively and literally. The cool summer temps make it a great getaway during July and August. Late spring and early fall are also options.

The cost will be a fraction of what you'd pay at most resorts, but it won't be as upscale either. The courses are low-tech as most were built in the around 1900. If you prefer the drama of more modern designs, don't bother.

Still, you can stay in Lake Placid for a long weekend or a week and be conveniently located to some historic and enjoyable golf.

Fast fact

The town of Lake Placid surrounds Mirror Lake while the body of water known as Lake Placid sits just off to the northwest of town.

Darryl Berger, Contributor

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