Babe Didrikson’s visit to the North Country in 1934 was historic, especially for Plattsburgh, where it was acknowledged as one of the greatest moments in the city’s history. She was an American hero (thanks to a startling performance in the 1932 Olympics), undeniably one of the world’s top athletes, and a phenomenon because of her high levels of talent in various sports. Plattsburgh’s remote location in New York’s northeast corner makes it difficult to get noticed, so Didrikson’s visit was regarded as a major coup.
Coincidentally, she wasn’t the only Babe from the stratosphere of sports fame to visit Plattsburgh in the 1930s. Even more unlikely is that both Babes were among the most famous athletes in America, and both were able competitors in sports other than the one that brought them the greatest fame. Didrikson, a track-and-field gold medalist, brought her basketball team to Plattsburgh, while Babe Ruth, a baseball giant, came north to play in an international golf tournament. » Continue Reading.
Whether you’re a fan of golf or sports in general, you’re probably aware that Tiger Woods recently won the Masters. His impact on golf history has been tremendous, but the latest chapter in his saga has been inspirational for several reasons: through lengthy, rigorous effort, he overcame physical obstacles that would have ended most sports careers; as an old man, he defeated all the best young players on the planet (he’s only 43, but athletes in their forties seldom win the biggest events); and overall, it was a rare comeback effort that most experts dismissed as impossible because of the factors just cited — and we do love comeback stories.
But this isn’t about Tiger Woods and it isn’t a comeback story. It’s about a remarkable North Country man who affected in a positive way untold millions of people around the world through his inventions, including one of his lesser creations — a new and improved golf ball that was the industry standard for decades. » Continue Reading.
The Craig Wood Golf Club in Lake Placid will host a second golf tournament to benefit the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge on Friday, June 24th.
Groups of one to four golfers may enter, single golfers will be paired up with other groups. The day will begin with breakfast at 9 am, tee time at 10, followed by lunch. There will be prizes and auctions for all sorts of gear, including a set of irons custom made by Andy Fawsett. Hit a hole in one, and win a car. Attendees will have the chance to meet birds of prey, along with Kiska, a young gray wolf, who’s known for making balls disappear. Local businesses still have time to sponsor a hole. » Continue Reading.
Black history in the Adirondacks has an anecdotal quality, maybe because the numbers of black Adirondackers have been so few. Here’s a story of a black homesteader who was good friends with John Brown. There’s a barn that may have sheltered fugitives on the Underground Railroad. Outside Warrensburg is a place in the woods where a black hermit lived. And so on.
The temptation – and I should know; I’ve been a lead offender – is to make a sort of nosegay out of these scattered stories, pack them all into a story by its lonesome, a chunky little sidebar, and let this stand for the black experience.
It makes a good read, and it’s efficient. And it’s wrong. It reinforces the idea that the black experience in this region was something isolated, inessential. It ghettoizes black Adirondack history, and this wasn’t how it was. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack tourism officials have put together a list summer golf package deals for under $100 per person, per night. The Adirondack regions includes more than 60 golf courses, all within a day’s drive for more than 60 million people. Golfing Adirondack vacation packages under $100 include: The Cedar River Golf Course & Motel in Indian Lake offer a classic Adirondack golf getaway for golfers on a budget. Room rates range from $47 – $80 pp/per night. Green fees are $15 for nine holes and $22 for 18 holes.
The Bluff Point Golf & Country Club in Plattsburgh offers a midweek Golf & Stay package with one night’s accommodations for $79 pp, and Golf & Stay weekend package for $89 pp. Rates are based on double and quadruple occupancy, and include two rounds of golf and cart rental.
Stay & Golf at The Northwoods Inn for just $99 pp/per night. Chose from three Adirondack golf courses, and enjoy the ambiance and convenience of staying right on Lake Placid’s bustling Main Street. Package includes accommodations, greens fees, cart rental for full 18-holes, breakfast and two drink coupons.
Golf the St. Lawrence Seaway and save with the Best Western University Inn in Canton’s summer golf package. The $95 pp/per night weekday package and $100 per person/per night weekend package includes unlimited golf with cart, complimentary bucket of balls, drink coupons and a 10 percent discount at the pro shop.
The Crowne Plaza Resort & Golf Club in Lake Placid is offering a Spring Midweek Golf & Stay Package for $99 pp/ per night. This Adirondack golf package includes golf at two of the Lake Placid Club’s courses, breakfast and accommodations. Golfers who book two night’s midweek, receive a third round of golf free.
Adirondack golf packages under $200:
Courtyard by Marriott Lake Placid’s Peak Season Midweek Golf Package is $129 pp/per night. Good through October 2, this package includes accommodations, golf and cart rental, and breakfast for two. Blackout dates apply.
The Edge Hotel in the western Adirondack town of Turin is offering two Stay & Play Golf packages. For $193, guests can stay for one night in a standard or king room. The package includes dinner for two, green fees and cart rental. The Edge is also partnering with Turin Highlands Golf Course to offer a similar package for $205 pp/per night.
Top of the World Golf Resort in Lake George offers 18 holes amid the beautiful scenery of Lake George. Stay & Play packages provide reduced green fees and are subject to availability. For under $200, guests can stay and play on the Top of the World.
The Saranac Inn and Golf Course is offering two nights’ accommodations and two full days of golf for $200 pp. Package includes breakfast, unlimited golf and guaranteed tee times at the Saranac inn Golf & Country Club.
Seventy-five years ago, the Adirondacks were abuzz about a precocious athletic phenom, a plucky teenager who exhibited incredible abilities on the golf course. The best players across the region were impressed by this remarkable child who could compete with anyone on the toughest courses. In a man’s world, this youngster—a girl—could challenge the best of them.
Marjorie Harrison, daughter of Neil and Eva, was born in 1918 in the town of North Elba. Her dad earned a living as a golf-club maker, eventually moving to Ausable Forks to assume the position of club professional at the Indole Course.
Having first wielded a club at the age of three, young Marjorie began developing her golfing skills on the local links. In a shocking glimpse of future possibilities, she won the women’s cup at Indole in 1928 when she was just ten years old. In 1932, the loss of her mom, Eva, to pneumonia, tested Margie’s inner strength, but that was something the young girl never lacked. With few team sporting possibilities available to girls, she excelled at horseback riding, skating, skiing, shooting, and, of course, golf, which are largely solo pursuits requiring heavy doses of self-reliance.
Neil soon began to eye the amateur golf tour as a challenge for his highly skilled daughter. In sports, the term amateur revealed nothing in regards to talent—it only meant that a competitor was unpaid, and thus pure (unsullied by the world of professional athletics).
At that time, there was no golf tour for women professionals. Nearly all the best players competed for cups, trophies, prestige, and for the sake of competition. Turning pro was rare. Only a few of the top women players were signed to represent major sporting goods companies. Once money was accepted, they forfeited all eligibility to compete in amateur events. Men lived in a different world, but for women, a professional golf tour was more than a decade away.
In August, 1933, Marjorie Harrison played in the state event at Bluff Point just south of Plattsburgh, where an international field offered stellar competition. She fairly burst onto the New York golfing scene, battling to the semifinal round, where a seasoned opponent awaited.
Incredibly, Margie went on to lead her semifinal match by one hole going to the 18th (nearly all tournaments featured head-to-head match play). There, she faltered, three-putting the final green to lose her advantage. But with steely resolve, Margie parred the single playoff hole for the win, sending her to the finals.
In the championship round she faced Mrs. Sylvia Voss, an outstanding golfer who promptly won the first three holes, putting Margie far behind. Bringing her power game to the fore, Harrison tied the match by the 14th and led by one at the 17th, but lost the last hole to finish in a tie. Just like in the semifinals, a playoff was necessary.
And, just like in the semifinals, Marjorie holed a par putt to win on the first playoff hole. She was barely 15 years old and had conquered some of the best golfers in an international tourney.
From Boston to Dallas to the West Coast, newspapers touted her great accomplishment. The New York Times wrote, “Swinging a wicked driver and with iron shots of unusual precision … Marjorie Harrison of Au Sable Forks won her first major golf tourney today.” She was also featured in The American Golfer magazine for the Bluff Point win.
In 1934, Marjorie, 16, made it once again to the finals at Bluff Point, where she was set to face Dorothy Campbell Hurd, a golfing legend. Hurd, 51, owned 749 victories, 11 national amateur titles, and once held the American, British, and Canadian titles at one time.
They played even through 16 holes, but Hurd pulled out the win on the final two greens. A gracious opponent and future member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Hurd was clearly impressed, saying, “With a little more experience, no woman golfer will be in the same class with Miss Harrison. She is a future champion that bears watching by the leading golfers.”
Hurd was right—there was much more to come, including several wins over the next few years. Margie finished near the top in virtually every tournament she entered. Some were very gutsy performances featuring remarkable comebacks, but most were head-to-head battles where mistakes seemed to have no effect on her. She was one tough competitor, always playing with grace, humility, and great determination.
In 1935, Marge finished second in the New York State Championships, and then reached the semifinals each of the next three years. Another major breakthrough came in July, 1937, when she shot a 37 on the final 18 holes at Rutland, Vermont (near her dad’s home area of Castleton) to win the Vermont state title. She was just a few months past her 19th birthday.
At Brattleboro in 1938, Marjorie successfully defended her Vermont title with a birdie on the 15th hole to clinch the win. Other highlights that year included shattering the course record at Bluff Point; winning at Lake Placid; and teaming up with the legendary Gene Sarazen in a remarkable comeback to win a benefit tourney.
For years, Marjorie was at the top of New York’s competitive golfing scene, which attracted some of the best players in the country. Despite the high level of play, it was considered an upset NOT to see her name in the semifinals of any tournament she entered. Whether in Quebec, Syracuse, the Berkshires, Briarcliff, or anywhere else she competed, the North Country’s ambassador of golf was respected and admired for her sportsmanship and fine play.
Many club titles were won and course records set by Marjorie, including at Bluff Point, Lake Placid, Albany, and Troy. She wowed the crowd at Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, battling fiercely to finish second in the Mason-Dixon tournament. Some golf writers pointed out that unlike athletes from warm-weather areas, Miss Harrison achieved great success despite playing only a few months of the year, and while attending high school and different colleges.
Though still a youngster, she returned to Ausable Forks in 1940 for a career review at a testimonial dinner—and for good reason. A few days earlier, at the age of 22, Marjorie had overwhelmed all comers and captured the New York State Women’s Golf Championship.
She maintained her winning ways, but during the World War II years, sports were sharply curtailed across the country to conserve fuel for the troops. Opportunities were meager, but Margie picked up two wins in 1944, followed by a stellar performance that led her once again to the finals of the New York State Championship Tournament.
Her talented opponent in the finals, Ruth Torgersen, was a very familiar combatant from many past matches. Torgersen, in fact, would go on to win a record seven NYS championships and be named New York’s Golfer of the Century.
On this day the two stars battled for 32 holes, at which point Marjorie held a three-hole lead. But on the 33rd, a stroke of bad luck left her ball balanced atop a bunker. Deemed an unplayable lie, it cost her the hole as Torgerson was quick to take advantage and cut the deficit to two.
Undaunted, Margie looked down the fairway of the 346-yard 16th hole and blasted a 200-yard drive. She nearly holed her second shot from 146 yards out, and then tapped in an easy putt for her second New York State title.
In that same year, the Women’s Professional Golf Association was formed, to be replaced six years later by the LPGA. Had she been born years later, there’s a good chance the girl from the Adirondacks would have won a good deal of prize money. For Marjorie Harrison, though, life took a different path.
After completing college, she had begun a career as a physical education teacher. In June, 1946, while still competing and winning, she married Bart O’Brien, himself a star golfer at Indole, the Ausable Forks course managed by her father, Neil.
For a while she competed as Marjorie Harrison O’Brien, but when Bart took a job teaching in the Oneida school system, they moved there and began raising a family. Semi-retired, Marge played occasionally in tournaments, but by 1954 she was busy raising three children, teaching, and becoming a very active participant in the community.
She began giving adult golf lessons, and children’s lessons soon followed. Bart became school principal, and together he and Marjorie maintained a high profile as community leaders. Honors were bestowed on both of them for their work in the school system, and in 1970 she was chosen as an honorary life member of the Oneida school district PTA.
In 1973, Marjorie was named Outstanding Citizen by the Oneida Rotary, and Bart was cited several times for his work on behalf of the organization. Through it all, they maintained close ties annually with family in the Ausable Forks area, where her dad, Neil, still held the position of golf pro at Indole through the mid-1960s.
Marjorie Harrison O’Brien passed away in 1999, and Bart died in 2004—two natives the North Country can truly be proud of.
Photo: Young Marjorie Harrison, golfer extraordinaire.
Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. He took over in 2010 and began expanding the company’s publishing services. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.
The Tupper Lake Rotary and Lions clubs have joined forces to create a new and unique event in Tupper Lake: The Fire and Ice Golf Tournament. The event will be held in the Tupper Lake Municipal Park and on Raquette Pond on Saturday, February 12.
Organizer Doug Wright is hoping the new event will peak the interest of both locals and visitors. The event is designed to be a family day open to golfers and non-golfers of all ages. All proceeds will benefit the community giving of the Rotary and Lions clubs.
One of the golfing events planned that day between noon and 4p.m. is a miniature-putting contest on a small 9-hole course fashioned in the snow. Organizers are also planning a chipping contest, where the best wedge and sand wedge shots will win contestants merchandise prizes. Black golf balls, designed to stand-out on the ice, have been ordered for all events, including the Fire and Ice long drive contest. A giant bonfire on the ice will be built to warm the golfers.
A 3-hole course will be built on the pond to challenge golfers. The committee will be soliciting sponsors for the various flags used on the various courses that day in upcoming weeks. “It’s something new for Tupper Lake, and we’re excited about it,” Wright said.
Helping the local Rotarians organize the event are Lions Club members Tom LaMere, Mike Dechene and Dan McClelland. Club members from both community organizations will help staff the event. County Legislator Paul Maroun has signed on as grand marshal of the day’s events.
The Lions Club will have its food and beverage concession dug out and dusted off for the weekend and P-2’s Irish Pub will have a satellite venue set up to dispense beer and wine.
For more information contact Doug Wright at 359-3241 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following Adirondack golf packages, in connection with local courses and nearby resorts, offer an all inclusive way to enjoy golfing in the Adirondack region. For more information on Adirondack golf and a list of courses, log onto VisitAdirondacks.com. The Bluff Point Golf Resort in Plattsburgh is offering a Midweek Package that includes one night and two rounds of golf with a cart for just $74 US. A minimum of four people per cottage and minimum two people per suite is required and the offer is good Mondays-Thursdays. Weekend Golf Packages are just $84 US and include one night’s accommodations and one round of golf with a cart. There is a minimum of four people per cottage and minimum two people per suite; offer is good Fridays-Sundays.
In Malone, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake, Canadian golfers can take advantage of the Golf Packages at Par which include two nights’ accommodations, two days of unlimited golf and more at Malone Golf Club East and West, Saranac Inn Golf & Country Club and Tupper Lake Golf and Country Club. Prices vary.
The Cedars Golf Course in Lowville offers weekly specials: 9 holes with cart for $18, or 18 holes with cart for $25. If golfers tee-off before 1 pm, they’ll even throw in a free sandwich.
The Sagamore Golf Course in Bolton Landing offers views of the Adirondack High Peaks and beautiful Lake George. The Sagamore Resort is offering an Unlimited Golf Package to guests, which includes two nights’ accommodation in either The Lodge or the Historic Hotel at the Sagamore, breakfast, unlimited golf and a special gift from the Golf Course Pro Shop. Prices vary.
The Ledge Rock in Wilmington is offering Whiteface Golf Packages through Oct. 12, which include one night’s lodging and one round of golf at the Whiteface Club & Resort for $124 pp/double occupancy. Just down the road, The Inn at Whiteface is offering a $99/night package for two people with reduced golf fees.
In Lake Placid, several area hotels and resorts are offering Adirondack Golf Getaway Packages all season long. The Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa and the Courtyard by Marriott both kick off their golf seasons June 19th with stay and play packages. Through Oct. 1, the Courtyard by Marriott will offer a $129/pp midweek golf package that includes deluxe accommodations, golf cart and breakfast. Through Oct. 7th, the Mirror Lake Inn will offer a special rate for couples who want to play a round of golf at The Whiteface Club & Resort, the Lake Placid Mountain Course or Craig Wood Golf Course. Additional options are available.
The Best Western University Inn in Canton golf package is $95 weekday, or $100 weekend and includes unlimited golf with cart for one day; complimentary bucket of range balls; hotel stay for one night; complimentary drink coupons and 10% soft goods discount at the pro shop. Rates are per person per day based on double occupancy, and are valid through October 15.
Supporters of the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF) efforts on behalf of New York snow sport athletes will be hitting the Mountain Course at the Lake Placid Club for the 12th Annual NYSEF Open golf tournament on Sunday, June 6, 2010. With the event less than a month away 24 teams and 26 sponsors have already registered, with an expected 35+ teams to compete.
Last year’s event raised over $10,000 for area athletes competing in snow sports – alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, ski jumping, cross country skiing, nordic combined and biathlon. This year’s 2010 Olympics boasted 7 former and current NYSEF athletes representing the United States, including: Nick Alexander (Ski Jumping), Lowell Bailey (Biathlon), Tim Burke (Biathlon), Bill Demong (Nordic Combined), Peter Frenette (Ski Jumping), Haley Johnson (Biathlon), and Andrew Weibrecht (Alpine Skiing). » Continue Reading.
The towns of Newcomb, Long Lake, and Indian Lake are all developing plans to purchase parts of the Nature Conservancy’s Finch Pruyn lands according to the just-released annual report of the conservation organization’s Adirondack Chapter & Adirondack Land Trust.
Newcomb plans to purchase about 970 acres of the Finch Pruyn lands within its hamlet to expand the High Peaks Golf Course and provide housing for student teachers. Long Lake is planning the purchase of about 50 acres for a municipal well and Indian Lake is looking at the purchase of approximately 75 acres near its downtown for “community purposes,” according to the Conservancy’s annual report. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) will be hosting a benefit golf tournament at the Westport Country Club on September 1, 2009. Play will be Partner’s Better Ball and the event will begin at noon with lunch followed by a 1 pm shotgun start. Entry fee is $75 which includes lunch, greens fees and cart. Registration deadline is Aug. 23; provide your handicap upon registration. Reservations are required and may be made by calling AARCH at 834-9328. Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) is the private, non-profit, historic preservation organization for the Adirondack Park region. This tour is one of over fifty events in our annual series highlighting the region’s vast architectural legacy. For more information on membership and our complete program schedule contact AARCH at (518) 834-9328 or visit our website at www.aarch.org.
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