Overlooking Lake George, the Donald Ross-designed hillside layout at The Sagamore Resort underwent an extensive, multi-million dollar restoration in the mid-1980s.
Writing in The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses, Tom Doak
commented as follows: “One of the few resort courses in upstate New York, The
Sagamore sits on a ridge overlooking Lake George, while the hotel is several
miles away down by the lake. Ross was engaged to find the best property he
could, and it’s a bit surprising he picked one this rugged. It could really use
some aggressive clearing to restore lost vistas.”
Donald Ross provided the handiwork for a number of stellar designs but The Sagamore is not one of them. The course is set a short distance from the grandeur of the hotel and its adjacent location next to Lake George. The course begins with an attention grabbing moment. The 1st hole is a stunning par-4 plunging downhill with the Lake in the far distance. The hole really gets the blood pulsating through the veins.
Alas, the bulk of the course only has sporadic moments and the details often found at many of the Ross courses is adequate but far from truly detailed.
It also hurts to have the surrounding trees and underbrush take on too much of role for many of the holes.
The outward side is simply adequate minus the sterling qualities of the opener. On the inward side things really pick up the pace with the quality long par-4 13th. Here the tee shot and approach are of a much higher level and the balance of the closing holes does make up considerably for what is on balance lacking.
Ross was a master of creating green complexes that were often inspirational and quite maddening at times. The course also plays much slower than what would be optimal. It's interesting to note how well the Ross layout at Mount Washington in nearby New Hampshire is given the updating done by noted architect Brian Silva.
For serious architectural devotees a visit to nearby Troy and the Walter Travis course there, or, even better yet, a visit to Glens Falls in Queenbury will truly show the genius of Ross. The Sagamore has the potential to be far better but, as of now -- it's more "sag" then "more."
M. James Ward