LAKE PLACID - Around this time every year, golfers in the North Country are downright eager to get out on the course after another long winter.
When golfers visit the Craig Wood Golf?Club in Lake Placid for the first time this season, they will be greeted by a new professional and a clubhouse that's been renovated, rejuvenated and updated inside and out.
On the golf side, PGA pro and AuSable Forks native Jeff Estes has been named Craig Wood's director of golf, taking over for fellow pro Jim Wasson, who spent 14 years at Craig Wood.
AuSable Forks native Jeff Estes plays in the Whiteface Club’s J. Peter Martin Open last July. He is the new director of golf at Craig Wood Golf Club.
Lou Reuter/Lake Placid News file photo
And when it comes to enjoying some social time off the course, golfers and other visitors can relax at the new-look clubhouse, which was renovated to a tune of more than $750,000.
"This season, it's all new: a new pro, a new clubhouse," said Craig Wood Superintendent Lynn Wilson, who has worked at the course for more than 40 years. "We're really excited about the direction this course is moving in."
Craig Wood is a municipal course operated by the town of North Elba Park District. The money for the clubhouse renovations was secured through a 15-year, $750,000 bond approved by the town board.
Not long ago, plans were in the works to raze the current clubhouse, which is about 40 years old, and erect a new one. But board member Derek Doty said the existing clubhouse was deemed by engineers to be structurally sound. So instead of spending more than $1 million for a brand-new clubhouse, money was made available for improvements.
"The integrity of the building was fine," Doty said. "We wanted to make it safer, brighter and clean it up. It will create a nice, new feel at the course."
"We have a new roof, new siding, new decking, a brand-new kitchen, and we've remodeled the dining area and bar," said North Elba Parks District head Butch Martin. "It's totally done in Adirondack style. The clubhouse looks great. It's magnificent."
The new siding is made of cement-fiber. It's dark brown color, and combined with a forest green roof, the clubhouse truly has an Adirondack look. The clubhouse now has substantially more outdoor deck space with the expansion and addition of porches on both the first and second levels.
One of the highlights of the remodeling project is a brand-new entrance to the clubhouse located on the side where golf carts have been lined up in previous seasons. Double doors open into a main foyer. Directly ahead of the new entrance is an elevator, and on the left is a new, wide staircase leading to the second-floor dining area, kitchen, rest rooms and the bar. A turn to the right leads to a hallway that takes visitors toward lockers and rest rooms, the pro shop, the registration counter and an office, all rooms which have kept their original dimensions but have been adorned with new trim and painted.
The size of the kitchen has been expanded by more than 25 percent as the clubhouse looks to serve more food and host more special occasion receptions.
The wiring and plumbing systems at the clubhouse have been expanded and upgraded, and a new septic system has also been installed. The town hopes to continue renovations after the upcoming season ends, with much of the focus on remodeling the locker rooms.
Wilson said renovations began about a week after Columbus Day, starting with the exterior while the weather was still nice. Most of the work has been completed, although Doty said there is "a lot of little stuff to do."
Craig Wood's new golf pro
Estes spent 20 years in Naples, Fla. as the pro at the Valencia Golf and Country Club, and was also the director of golf instruction at the Lake Placid Club and Resort through last season. He brings a teaching and playing resume that spans more than 30 years in the sport. Normally, Estes would stretch his winter stay down south a little longer, but early last week, he headed to the North Country to get a jump on the new job.
"The goal for me is to just help try to make Craig Wood the best it can be," Estes said while traveling in North Carolina on March 3. "I want to promote the game the way it should be. With golf, I like to keep it simple, and that's how I'm approaching Craig Wood. I want to keep the golfers happy and the residents of the town happy."
As a PGA teaching pro, much of Estes' golf career has been centered around passing on his knowledge of the game, working with beginners and top players alike.
"I've given thousands and thousands of lessons," Estes said. "Over the last 10 years, I've done a lot of instruction. As I've gotten older, much of my focus has turned toward teaching."