Whiteface Golf Club, Whiteface Lodge, Lake Placid, NY — Photo courtesy of Sherel Purcell
Montreal's playgrounds, Lake Placid to the south and Mont-Tremblant a 1.5-hour drive northwest of Montreal offer four seasons of fun. In winter, these are top ski destinations. But the rest of the year finds these same mountains and pristine forests transformed into great golf tracks.
Golfing has been a favorite sport in the Lake Placid area since 1898. Geographically, the Adirondacks were considered similar to the Scottish landscape - the home of golf, and thus a suitable location for the original form of golf or "mountain golf" evidenced at the Whiteface Golf Club.
Established in 1898 by Walter Hagen and John Van Kleek, the laid-back Whiteface Golf Club vibe is popular with visitors and locals alike as no two holes are ever the same. Well - landscaped surroundings dotted with red Adirondack chairs add to the enjoyment of this woodsy course set within view of Whiteface Mountain. Undulating greens, tight fairways and numerous doglegs add to the challenges. This course definitely favors the accurate shot maker, particularly on the doglegs. A visit to the onsite bar/restaurant for post-round local beer, specialty drinks and a good selection of bistro/pub fare is a must Twilight rates offer substantial savings while fall golfing offers excellent leaf peeping opportunities.
Whiteface Lodge Poolside — Photo courtesy of Sherel Purcell
Guests of the wonderful four-star Whiteface Lodge about a mile away can access the golf course via a fast and free shuttle van service as well as take advantage of an indoor-outdoor pool, sauna, hot tub and spa services - all designed to ease aching golf muscles. Zack, the ultra-professional bartender, provides highly-personalized cocktails for the perfect 19th hole experience or, if you prefer, cigar and whiskey tastings can also be arranged. Bartender Zack at KANU Lounge Whiteface Lodge — Photo courtesy of Sherel Purcell
The 18th hole at Mont-Tremblant-based Le Maitre — Photo courtesy of John Cameron / Active City Travel
Likewise at Mont Tremblant, golfers can enjoy championship golf experiences, thanks to the topography of the Canadian Shield, which provides dramatic elevation changes in a beautiful setting unlike any other courses in North America. The wide variation within the landscape ensures a variety of holes. With the elevation changes and steep climbs, golf carts are mandatory. They allow golfers to store up their energy for the various challenges presented on these tricky and scenic courses. Many of these spectacular holes find golfers teeing off from a plateau sculpted into the mountainside, high above a tiny green that provides the ultimate thrill in golf.Le Geant golf course — Photo courtesy of John Cameron / Active City Travel
The most impressive of these elevation changes for some heart-stopping tee shots can be found at Le Geant course, designed by Thomas McBroom, a leading Canadian golf architect.
The real danger playing these beautiful holes is the temptation to play from the very back tees, which will skew your score unfavorably but will add extra thrills. Your biggest challenge is keeping your eye on the ball instead of the spectacular scenery provided by the surrounding Laurentian Mountains.
Le Diable golf course — Photo courtesy of John Cameron / Active City Travel
Golfers can experience similar views on Le Geant’s sister course: Le Diable. In addition to imposing red-sand bunkers and long, narrow fairways, the course includes several holes with fairway waste bunkers that look more intimidating than they actually play.
This 7,056-yard course, designed by Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry in 1998, offers a true test of driving precision. As an added bonus, both Le Diable and Le Geant courses can be played for as little as $50 after 5 p.m.
La Bete golf course — Photo courtesy of John Cameron / Active City Travel
Two other championship courses in the region that deserve a mention include Le Maitre, whose designers include Fred Couples, and La Bete – designed by Graham Cooke. Cooke provided five sets of tees, making the course accessible to both novice and expert golfers.
The par-72 course plays from 5,150 to 6,825 yards. If you choose to play from the tips, you'll see why they named the course La Bete ("The Beast").
Both these tracks feature the variety of holes and elevation changes enjoyed at Le Geant and Le Diable, along with excellent dining and drinking facilities often found in Quebec. Head to the patio at Le Maitre for lunch and dinner, best savored on a large patio overlooking the wide expanse of golf course down below.
La Bete, situated along the Diable River, runs nearly 7,000 yards. For lighter fare and good micro-brews at excellent prices check out La Bete’s quiet back patio overlooking the 9th hole viewed through a crop of tall alders.
Keep in mind this 19th hole closes fairly early in the afternoon.
Le Grand Lodge at Mont Tremblant — Photo courtesy of John Cameron / Active City Travel
A 10-minute drive away, Le Grand Lodge offers golf packages for these four courses.
Their bountiful breakfast buffet ensures golfers are properly fueled for a challenging day on the course. A rich, multi-course dinner offers good value gourmet dining.
The dining room and patio overlook pretty Lac Ouimet, perfect for a post-round dip. In the evening, you can enjoy a complimentary campfire on the beach – complete with marshmallows and roasting sticks.
A free shuttle service running every half hour will take you to nearby Mont Tremblant Village for dinner, drinks or evening entertainment, including a 10-day annual blues festival. Plentiful dining options range from a good brew pub – Microbrasserie La Diable – to Asian cuisine at O-Wok.
Nearby, Chateau Beauvallon offers similar accommodations, though more upgraded. The lake, however, is replaced by a busy outdoor pool.
It also features premium dining in the form of Prime Steak Sushi Bar for fans of sushi fusion and beef dishes, along with other choices. Free shuttle service to Mont-Tremblant Village is also included, as is a substantial buffet breakfast.
Chateau Beauvallon Mont Tremblant — Photo courtesy of John Cameron / Active City Travel
New spring opening dates are as follows:
La Belle : May 6, La Bête : May 14, Le Diable : May 13, Le Géant : May 20 and Le Maître : May 13