LAKE PLACID - Tucked away in the woods off state Route 73 several miles from the village is the Craig Wood Golf Course, with rolling green grass, hills and a scenic view of the surrounding mountains.
The 18-hole course is a total of 6,554 yards on a former piece of farmland. It is owned and operated by the town of North Elba.
The most recent changes at Craig Wood came about a year ago when the pro shop was completely renovated and the parking lot was repaved, but they pale in comparison to the historic transformation the course has had over the years.
Lucille Randall practices at the Craig Wood Golf Course.
(News photo — Matthew Turner)
The course, formerly called the Lake Placid Golf and Country Club, was renamed in honor of hometown boy turned pro, Craig Wood of North Elba. Wood got his start in the game as many other pros of his time did, as a caddy. He was a caddy at the Ruisseaumont Hotel Golf Course in Lake Placid, according to the book "Craig Wood: The Blond Bomber Native Son of Lake Placid," by J. Peter Martin. Woods, a constant runner-up in tournaments, eventually became a champion, winning the Masters in 1941, the United States Open and 21 other major tournaments.
The town's course, like Wood's career, grew in size over the years. It was founded in 1924 after a local businessman and the Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce purchased the land.
The nine-hole course was designed the next year by Seymour Dunn. The land had "unusual significance for Craig Wood, because the farm had been an old homestead where his grandfather had grown up," according to Martin's book.
Jeff Estes, the pro at Craig Wood told the Lake Placid News that a special event is coming up on July 22 dedicated to one of the oldest active members of the course, 99-year-old Lucille Randall.
The two-person, nine-hole scramble will begin at 4 p.m., and the entry is $20 per person.
"Lucille's turning 100 this year Oct. 17, but we wanted to do a function this summer while everyone is here," Estes said. "She's still playing, still taking lessons. She's actually out there playing on the putting green right now."
Sure enough, Lucille was practicing her game in the fierce summer heat. Her achievement of playing golf at nearly 100 years old is an accomplishment some of the champions of her day couldn't attain.
"I was here when they named it (Craig Wood Golf Course)," Randall said. "My husband told them to do that."
She added that the mail would constantly get mixed up with the Lake Placid Club Golf Course.
Lucille's husband, Ray Randall, was a champion boxer, newspaper man and "the best amateur golfer to ever come to the North Country," according to an old edition of the Lake Placid News.
Both Lucille and Ray were regulars at the Craig Wood course, even playing games with Wood himself. Ray was said to have played 1,000 rounds of golf with Wood, according to the News archives.
"I just love the game. There is something about it," Lucille said. "And I had a wonderful teacher, my husband."
The course holds the annual Craig Wood-Ray Randall Invitational Golf Tournament the first weekend after Labor Day, and the 17th hole is dedicated in his honor. Randall died in 1997 of a heart attack. He loved golf and the course so much his ashes were spread over holes 7, 8 and 9 by an airplane, according to Lucille, who plans to have the same thing happen with her remains. Lucille will partner with Estes during the scramble in her honor.
"I'd like to win it," she said.