LENOX — Luke Salvatore was lured into golf with sweet promises of doughnuts and chocolate milk.
“My grandfather was really into golf, and he had a weekly Saturday group first thing in the morning at what was then Cranwell. When I was about 9 years old, he would drag me out there once a month with him and his buddies,” recalls Salvatore, born and raised in Lee, but now living in Hinsdale. “At 9 years old, it was a pretty miserable experience to have to get up that early, but the time with my grandfather, and love developed for the game and this piece of property, was worth every second.”
During four years of golf at Lee High School, Salvatore found himself the low man on the Wyndhurst Manor & Club golf crew, fetching balls at the driving range for eight hours a day. That journey started in 1994.
Today, Salvatore is the director of golf at the same place he learned to swing a club, overseeing a team of 12 colleagues and a professional staff.
Salvatore knows that it will take more than sweets to bring fledgling and veteran golfers for a visit to Wyndhurst Manor & Club, the former Cranwell resort.
Fortunately, the longtime links minder has fresh and attractive renovations to show off: In 2017, Cranwell was bought by Hyatt. The company divided the resort into a pair of golf and wellness destinations, adding depth to the visitor experience for each, whether for half day, full day or several.
Recently completed, the Wyndhurst Manor & Club now offers a reconfigured, historic course; a brand new practice putting green; and mansion-style amenities at prices fit for the general public.
The 18-hole course still boasts its spectacular Berkshire views and challenging golf. However, the course — designed and built by Wayne Stiles and John Van Kleek in 1926 — has been reoriented and flipped, says Salvatore, such that the notorious back nine is now up front, which makes for a better outing.
“You get the same 18 holes, but the flow change makes it more user friendly. Before, the original back nine was an absolute monster, a really tough stretch of holes,” says Salvatore. “We’ve moved these to the front nine now, so you have that period of time to recover your day.”
Salvatore says the course is ideal for all levels. “The better player is going to be challenged and the beginner is going to find it approachable, too. You don’t see that very much,” says Salvatore.
Because of the relationship with Miraval Berkshires, guests there can experience Mindful Golf sessions at Wyndhurst, which go beyond perfecting your swing to help you become more self-aware and present, not only in golf but also in life.
13 original holes, plus 5 improved ones, too
Playing on the course never gets old for Salvatore, who relishes equally the historic nature of the course, its challenge and variety.
“We have 13 original holes that Stiles and Van Kleek designed, down to a T, and all the other changes I have made, I believe, really stayed true to the original architect’s intent,” notes Salvatore. “You can play the course and hit every club in your bag.”
Hyatt’s upgrades also included adding or redesigning 19 tee boxes, some new bunkering, an 8,500-square-foot putting green, with nine flags that match what you see and experience on the Wyndhurst course.
Also new: GPS systems equipped in the Wyndhurst golf carts. For a course spread out over 380 acres, the GPS will make it handy to find your way back to the clubhouse and provide a heads-up view of the course as you play.
“That’s especially helpful for first-time players, who don’t have the familiarity with the course,” says Salvatore. “There are some holes that require local knowledge.”
The GPS also will display pro tips, and it offers the ability to order and pick up food and drinks, which can be done at certain designated spots on the course.
“Then it’s grab and go, whether it’s adult beverages or something off the menu,” says Salvatore.
From a golfer perspective, the facilities are ideal, from the course to new practice areas and the redesigned driving range, says Salvatore.
He also notes that there are memberships available, if you want more than the occasional round of play.
“There’s no one else that offers indoor and outdoor swimming, a fitness club, tennis courts and of course golf, all in a very affordable membership package,” says Salvatore.
Just because it’s located at a mansion doesn’t mean the club is only catering to the elite, notes Salvatore.
“The accessibility is for the locals as well. I think historically, for at least my 27 years here, the stigma of having the mansion sitting on top of the hill has dissuaded locals from coming, and the reality is that it’s an amazingly welcoming place and an awesome environment to grab dinner and cocktails.”
Salvatore refers to Sloane’s Tavern, also updated, which serves casual fare, or some finer dining at the 1894 Fireside Bistro and Bar, which serves classic American cuisine.
It’s this kind of attention to detail and amenities that Salvatore says both Berkshire and far-flung golfers will want to take advantage of, as well as locals and visitors who would like a great evening out.
Visit the website for up-to-date rates
Salvatore notes that, during off peak seasons April, May and October, visitors can get unlimited play for a day pass. “You can make a day trip out here and play 36 holes if you want,” says Salvatore.
Wyndhurst has also just kicked off a stay-and-play package that’s available for May, June, September and October. For a two-night minimum, visitors get to stay at Wyndhurst Manor, with three rounds of golf included, as well as 20 percent off lessons.
For those visitors looking for a spa retreat, Miraval Berkshires is next door, and there’s day packages for Wyndhurst guests and locals.
Both resorts employ federal- and state-recommended measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and as of late April, outdoor guests can be maskless. Other safety measures, such as social distancing, still apply.