What if I told you that there is a high-caliber, challenging, meticulously-maintained 9-hole golf oasis with stunning views of the High Peaks hiding directly in the geographic middle of the Adirondacks wilderness?
As it turns out, it’s not all that hard to find. Driving through the jaw-dropping landscape leading through Newcomb from any direction, you’ll involuntarily hit the brakes when you see the High Peaks Overlook. It’s a stunning, open view of the High Peaks of the Adirondacks, complete with picnic table, gazebo, and now, one of those frames with the name of the town for your Instagramming convenience.
No one will blame you for spending some time at the Overlook, but when you can pry your eyes away from the view, pan to the right. There you’ll see a sign for the High Peaks Golf Course.
177 years in the making
Follow the sign’s arrow a short drive down Santanoni Drive to the parking lot and clubhouse.
The High Peaks Golf Course opened in 2005, and is owned and operated by the Town of Newcomb, which was established in 1828. (And no, the course construction didn’t really take 177 years).
Since about 2005 then, I have heard from local golfing friends and acquaintances that the golf course in Newcomb is a must-play course. I’m not sure why it took until this year to visit in person.
A stop in to the welcoming clubhouse and pro shop sets the stage. If you’re lucky, Linda, one of the friendliest people in the world, will greet you with a big smile, as will anyone else who happens to be sitting at what looks like an old-fashioned drug store counter. She’ll set you up with information, a key to a cart, and your tee time — which is probably right away, because, somehow, the course is still kind of a secret.
There are snacks and drinks (beer too), and rumored delicious microwavable hamburgers served up here, and a small pro shop in case you want a souvenir or need a new golf glove.
Keep your eye on the ball
And then I took a look beyond the club house and toured the course itself via golf cart. There are four tees at each hole for all ages and styles of players. The healthy fairways and greens divulge the fact that the course is fully irrigated, and the rolling terrain showcases the fact that the greens are sloped and elevated.
The layout is challenging, with a lot of hills (take a cart), sneaky sand traps, and because of its location, a number of environmentally sensitive marsh areas that you’re not allowed to enter, but your ball just might.
Speaking of your ball, it’s certainly tough to keep your eye on it for a successful swing courtesy of those darn breathtaking views!
Something to disagree on
When I returned to the club house, I decided to conduct a quick survey, and asked the course manager, two members just arriving for their day’s round, Linda, and two women sitting at the counter the same question: what is the course’s signature hole?
One person responded that it’s the really long, par 5 hole #6. Another declared that it is hole #5 because of the view from the tee. Yet another chose the short 3 par hole 3, and well, let’s just say that all 9 holes have their own fan clubs. So if it’s up for grabs, I put my vote down for hole 5, too.
Something to agree on
For the quality of the play and the outstanding setting of this golf course, you’d think that they’d only let the pros play. But it’s just the opposite. This is no high falootin’ country club. Rather, you’ll feel welcome from the moment of arrival and as comfortable wearing Carhartts as fancy golf duds.
And that welcoming attitude applies to the rest of the community, too. I urge everyone to stop in and visit Dave and Ruth at Cloudsplitter Outfitters and pick up some food and other supplies while you plan a bike, hike, or paddle adventure. And don’t miss the Adirondack Interpretive Center, with accessible trails and knowledgable staff to answer your every question about the Adirondacks’ flora and fauna. A visit to the historic Great Camp Santanoni is a must, too, and it's accessible via bike, hike or wagon ride.
There’s a wonderful town beach on Lake Harris, the popular fire tower on Goodnow Mountain, and an endless number of paddling trips available, from Lake Harris to the Essex Chain Lakes, to the Hudson River.
After all, where better to tee up for all of the best outdoor adventures than the geographic middle of the Adirondacks?
- Kim Rielly is the director of communications for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism. She plays from the red tees.
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