POCONOS, Pennsylvania – About 90 miles north of Philadelphia, and about the same distance west of Metropolitan New York City, you’ll find the ideal recreational area for year-round fun.
Snuggled away in Northeastern Pennsylvania is the Poconos, a four-county collection of resorts and places to stay-and-play. Be it winter sports like snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fun slopes to downhill ski; autumn hunting and fishing while you enjoy the colorful transition of fall leaves; summer boating, kayaking, canoeing, and swimming the cool blue and pristine waterways throughout Carbon, Monroe, Pike and Wayne counties; and golf at the 30 odd golf courses and resort clubs almost year-round.
Earlier this summer I took a group of golf writers on a cross-section trip of some of the best the Poconos has to offer. We started at Terry LaGree’s artful design Jack Frost National Golf Club opened in 2007 in Blakeslee and has all the features you would want in a mountain course and none of the shortfalls.
Here you can embrace the Pocono Mountains with all its magnificent vistas and elevation changes. Different than most mountain courses, Jack Frost National at 7200 yards from the tips provides wide fairways, easily identified target areas, few uneven lies, and no blind shots. Before our round, Director of Instruction Ryan Kearn gave us an overview of the course while we enjoyed a light lunch in the new outdoor bar and pavilion. No homes, just flora and fauna. The Jack Frost and Boulder Ski Resorts are nearby. To learn more or book a tee time please visit www.JackFrostNational.com.
We took a backroad ride through small villages and towns to our next destination, Woodloch Resort in Hawley, where we stayed in two lovely five bedroom homes perfect for a buddies’ golf trip. Each bedroom had its own bathroom and each house had a great room, dining room and huge kitchen to accommodate all our goodies and drinks. For someone who grew up near the Poconos in Allentown, Woodloch Resort was a complete surprise. https://www.thelodgeatwoodloch.com/
The sprawling resort, which has three separate facilities, covers 1200 acres and has something for everyone. The Lodge is a ‘Sanctuary for the Senses‘ adults-only spa where guests go to decompress and renew. The Pines is the family resort area where most of the activities are found, and the Springs is the 500-acre home development complete with a Rocky Roquemore championship country club golf course under the direction of Director of Golf John Pillar. The Resort has been owned by the Kiesendahl family for 65 years who insist on treating guests, like family. Their attention to detail shows why the Resort is voted the No. 1 Family Resort for the third year in a row by USA Today.
After a challenging round at Woodloch with deer following us around the course, we drove east to the “Granddaddy” of the Poconos, The Shawnee Inn. The historical Inn has been the home of an A. W. Tillinghast designed golf course that plays along the Delaware River and continues onto an island with the river flowing on both sides after crossing a cart bridge.
The parkland-style course is not the norm in the Poconos, but a nice change from the hills and valleys of the typical Pocono offerings. The historic Shawnee Inn has been entertaining and playing host to the who’s who of celebrities since the beginning of the 20th century. Jackie Gleason learned the game here; Arnold Palmer met Winnie here; Sam Snead spent time as the pro. The likes of Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Lucille Ball, Perry Como and many more came to the Shawnee Inn for recreation, fun and the cool summer nights. https://www.shawneeinn.com/
The Shawnee continues to change with the times. There is a craft brewery on the property with outdoor seating and games for the whole family. Tom Doak completed a six-hole par 3 course to complement the championship course where Hale Irwin won his NCAA championship. Recently the Shawnee owners bought Great Bear Golf Club, a Jack Nicklaus masterpiece, in nearby East Stroudsburg to give the Inn a new stay-and-play package.
No matter where you decide to go, warm hospitality and cool temperatures are a sure bet. So if you are sweltering in the city, take your game and family to the Poconos. You will love it!
On the web: PoconoMountains.com