Drive a Little, Golf a Lot at Lake Placid
Year-round vacation wonderland offers excellent golf stay-and-play opportunities.
Photo by Dave Donelson
A soaring ski jumper often comes to mind when you mention Lake Placid, but a golf ball sailing through the sky also defines the destination for golfers in the know. The scenic Adirondack region just a few hours north of us has been a golfer’s delight since the 1890s; today you’ll find some 60 courses with breathtaking views of wilderness lakes, cedar-covered mountains, and game-ready fairways and greens.
From classic to modern and stately to adventuresome, the courses in the Lake Placid region offer something for every golfer. You’ll find the work of top designers like Alistair Mackenzie, John Van Kleek, and stars of the game like Craig Wood, the Lake Placid native who won both the Masters and the US Open in 1941 while he was head pro at Winged Foot.
You’ll also find some delightful places to stay and play. At the top of your list should be the Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa, rated the top resort in both New York State and the Mid-Atlantic by Conde Nast Traveler, and winner of AAA’s Four-Diamond award for 33 consecutive years. It’s been locally owned and operated by the Weibrecht family for more than 40 years — and the Wikoff family for 40 years before that. It’s a perfect combination of modern amenities housed in classic architecture with special views of its eponymous lake and easy access to Lake Placid’s many, many attractions.
A $4 million renovation completed in 2015 expanded many of the rooms and added floor-to-ceiling glass doors and year-round sitting areas/porches overlooking the Adirondack High Peaks. For ultra-luxurious accommodations, reserve one of the Colonial House Suites right on the lakeshore. In addition to the sound of water lapping beneath your deck, you’ll enjoy Oriental rugs, Black Forest chandeliers, stone fireplaces, and oversized marble bathrooms.
Be sure to leave time for a treatment (or two) in the spa, which recently completed a million-dollar makeover and also offers salon services for men and women, as well as a pool and fitness center. Dining choices at the Mirror Lake Inn include the Four Diamond award-winning View restaurant as well as the Taste Bistro and Bar and the Cottage, a casual lunch, dinner, or drinks spot right on Mirror Lake.
While the ultra-helpful staff can arrange tee times at numerous courses in the region, the Whiteface Club and Resort is a great first choice. The classic, challenging course was laid out in 1898 on the edge of Lake Placid and today serves as the centerpiece of a vibrant 500-acre resort-home community. The club recently announced a new premium subdivision, Forest Brook Estates, with one- to three-acre lots featuring panoramic views of the Adirondack Mountains and the historic championship golf course.
Whiteface Club measures 6,451 yards and plays to par 71, with an exciting assortment of elevation changes, tight, cedar-lined fairways, and beautifully maintained greens and bunkers. The four par 3s each require a different club, and the three par 5s are birdie opportunities for the smartest (not necessarily the longest) players in your foursome. A draw is your friend off the tee on most of the long holes, but especially on the 490-yard 6th, which plays dramatically downhill off the tee but takes a sharp left turn about 200 yards out. The closing three holes, a short, testy par 4 and two trouble-laden par 5s, often mean that no match is won until the final putt drops on 18.
After your round, grab a bite and a libation in Café-On-The-Green, then step into the clubhouse and pick up a copy of Adirondack Golf Courses…Past and Present. It’s a fascinating history of the game in the region, and you can get it autographed by the author, Whiteface Club PGA professional J. Peter Martin.
No trip to Lake Placid would be complete without a visit to the Olympic Museum located in the same building as the 1980 Miracle on Ice. Hiking, biking, and canoeing are no-brainers, too, but other unique summertime adventures include extreme tubing, a rocket ride down the ski jump landing hills that reaches 50 mph, the wheeled luge and bobsled experiences, or the airbag free fall, where you dive into a soft pillow of air.
Luxurious accommodations in spectacular surroundings, a non-stop list of amenities and activities, and excellent golf — that’s Lake Placid.