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The view from a tee box at The Sagamore Golf Course.

5 Ways Donald Ross Lives on at The Sagamore Golf Course

Ranked among “Top 200 Resort Golf Courses” by Golfweek’s Best in 2020, the 18-hole Sagamore Golf Course was designed and built under legendary course designer Donald Ross’s personal supervision in 1928 – and very much stays true to his distinct style, in more ways than one. 

Built in 1923 by legendary course architect Donald Ross, the historic hilltop Sagamore Golf Course was considered one of his finest works, and The Sagamore Resort is content on keeping it that way (previous restoration efforts have always maintained the original routing and features). Today, it plays like a legend with holes routed naturally through an upland meadow and the Adirondack woods, lush narrow fairways lined with hardwoods, and deep bunkers that surround undulating greens. Ross even planted heather here from his own native Scotland. But that isn’t the only obvious mark he left. We highlight a few other ways you can see his signature touch in this gem of early golf course design.

1. A Fresh First Hole Approach

While building the course, Ross contradicted his own design philosophy in the opening hole. Rather than facing west (away from the sun), he oriented it east so golfers could enjoy that beautiful view of Lake George.

2. Contoured Greens Galore


Ross liked contours in his layouts and incorporated several hogback greens, including one that dominates almost the entire length of the par-5 17th.

3. A Classic Risk-Reward Par 3

It was common that Ross would have at least one short “risk or reward” par 3 in his layout. The 171-yard 11th is a perfect example of that, where the player might make a two with a great tee shot…or a six, if not.

4. Bunkers that Dupe & Deceive

Ross’s signature deceptive bunker placement was utilized on hole 3. From the tee, it looks like the bunker is right next to the green, when it is, in fact, some 40 yards short.

5. False Fronts Falling Back to the Fairway


Another classic Ross touch was the use of false fronts, which is where the front portion of a putting green slopes down to the fairway (so that golf balls without enough speed to roll over the false front instead often roll down back onto the fairway, adding another element of deception and challenge). In fact, this course is littered with them – specifically on holes 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, and 13.

Where to Stay The Sagamore Resort

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