Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lake Placid's Craig Wood

Craig Wood, “The Blond Bomber,” was born in Lake Placid in 1901. He learned to play golf while caddying at Lake Placid courses where the game was becoming increasingly fashionable in the decade leading up to WWI.

After attending Clarkson College, Wood for a time lived the golf journeyman’s life. Following his first professional stint in Kentucky, he worked at several clubs in New Jersey in the years from 1927 to 1938.

It was in New Jersey in 1928 that he won his first professional tournament. He earned 21 career victories in all, including the Masters and the U.S. Open (1941) and the Canadian Open (1942). He was second in the PGA Championship held at the Park Country Club in Buffalo in 1934. He was also a successful Ryder Cup player.

Having been raised in a working class family in the turn of the 20th century Adirondacks, it’s not surprising that Wood liked to spend time hunting and fishing when he was away from the golf course. Peter Martin reveals in his book “Craig Wood” that the golfer "used to use bits of venison as trout bait.” As an older married man living in New York City, he enjoyed the outdoors at his 1,200 acre “Big Indian" hunting lodge in the nearby Catskills.

In 1948 the Lake Placid Golf and Country Club was renamed in his honor. Craig Wood Golf Course is actually located a steep drive up ski-jump Highway 73 in North Elba, about a mile from pre-Civil War abolitionist John Brown’s farm. Designed by Seymour Dunn, the course is framed in mountain views, with holes 11 through 17 being specially scenic and challenging.

The course’s clubhouse features the Caddy Shack Restaurant on its second floor. The beers and Adirondack vistas served up on its open porch are delicious.