Shawnee Inn & GR
1906, A.W. Tillighast
Championship 6800, 72.2, 132, 72
Regular 6290, 69.4, 130, 72
Directions: I-80 to PA Exit 52 (Marshalls Creek), then take Route 209 N, in less than a mile turn right and follow signs to the club.
Fees: ~$98 plus cart weekend high season
Most of the holes on the current Blue/Red 9s hosted the 1938 PGA Championship, when Slammin' Sammy Snead lost to Paul Runyan 8 & 7.
Ranked as a "Must Play" by Golf Digest
Great Example of Being Burned by Golf Resort Hype
by Craig Better, GolfVacationInsider.com, 2/12
When will golf courses and resorts learn that when you greatly puff yourself up, you’re likely to let people down?
That’s exactly what happened when the editors of Golf Odyssey conducted one if their anonymous inspections at the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.
They were intrigued by the resort’s aggressive advertising and public relations campaign suggesting a restored Golden Age retreat and the 100th anniversary of its golf course, the first US design of A.W. Tillinghast.
“An equally impressive tournament history and colorful anecdotes of celebrities and dignitaries who stayed and played here suggested additional cachet,” they recently wrote. “We arrived at Shawnee expecting a rich golf getaway.”
Shawnee’s website, too, says, “We offer world class luxury accommodations” with a golf course that is, “one of the most prized PA golf courses in the Northeast.”
“While everyone we met was friendly and helpful, the facilities are clearly dated and need significant investment to bring the resort to the standards expected by most of our readers… the Inn is kitschy, homey, dated, and many of the rooms are doughty and frumpy. To be sure, Shawnee’s pedigree holds intrinsic appeal and its golf course contains the bones of a fine layout. However, it needs work to reach its potential. “
Needless to say, they walked away disappointed.
And the truly unfortunate part is, it could have been avoided.
“Had our expectations been guided by the reasonable prices (stay and play packages often well below $200 per person) instead of Shawnee’s marketing materials, we would have likely walked away with a more positive disposition,” wrote Golf Odyssey. “Take away the hype and Shawnee is an interesting and inexpensive day trip.”
That’s the worst part about this: Shawnee dug its own hole.
Reader Comments: "Agree, venue is dated and a disappointment... Our experience was exactly the same, play Jack Frost National for half the cost and twice the fun... Rude ranger... Drive 15 minutes further to formerly private Great Bear Country Club, best course in the Poconos."
Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort in NE Pennsylvania is a classic
Posted: June 24, 2010
SHAWNEE ON DELAWARE, Pa. – Walking through the century-old clubhouse at the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort you can't help but notice all the photographs of the great comedic actor Jackie Gleason. It was here in 1944 where Gleason learned to play golf, which brings to mind a classic "Honeymooners" episode in which Ed Norton (Art Carney) tries to teach Ralph Kramden (Gleason) how to play the great game by using an instruction book.
Somehow I just can't see Sam Snead, who was once the resident pro at Shawnee Inn, explaining address the same way that Ed Norton did.
"What do they mean by address the ball?" Ralph asks.
"How should I know? That's what it says here," Norton says as he pounds his hand on the book.
A few moments later, Norton exclaims, "Wait a minute. I think I know what it means."
Norton then takes a stance, looks down and says, "Hello ball," spurring Ralph to slap him on the back, and the laughs ensue.
The truth is by the time that episode aired in 1955, Gleason was already an avid golfer and had played countless rounds at Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort. He might have still needed lessons, but he was intimately familiar with the game.
Shawnee Inn is early A.W. Tillinghast design
Gleason was at the then Shawnee Country Club during its heyday. Back then, the course was just 18 holes originally designed by A.W. Tillinghast before he became a renowned architect. It was the site of the 1938 PGA Championship won by Paul Runyan over Snead, and it had become the playground of celebrities, athletes and high-ranking politicians.
Today there are 27 holes at Shawnee Inn, the Red Course, White Course and Blue Course. In 1961, nine new holes designed by Bill Diddle were added, possibly diluting the experience but making the course more resort friendly.
Diddle's holes are integrated into the original layout. They blend in rather seamlessly, although there are junctures where finding the next tee box requires a little local knowledge.
There's talk of restoring the course to its 1938 splendor. Owner Charles Kirkwood has been in discussions with architect Tom Doak about restoring the course using old photographs and drawings. Doak did a similar project at Pasatiempo Golf Club in California, although it didn't involve eliminating extraneous holes.
All but three of the holes at Shawnee Inn are on an island formed by the Delaware River, making for some dramatic holes alongside and over the river. There's also a portable bridge that was built decades ago. It was designed by original Shawnee Inn owner and architect C.C. Worthington.
Each year, the bridge is removed after the season, and it's reassembled in the spring. Part of any future renovation would include a bigger permanent bridge that could allow for heavier traffic. Kirkwood would like to see major tournaments return to Shawnee Inn, which in addition to the PGA has also hosted the U.S. Women's Amateur (1919), Shawnee Open (which Walter Hagan competed in) and the 1967 NCAA men's championship.
The signature hole at Shawnee is the seventh on the Blue Course, although the second on the Red Course is just as scenic. Both are par 3s that cross the river, however, the Blue hole might have a better view from the green with the Poconos and river in the background.
The Blue is arguably the best of the three nines, with three par 3s, three par 4s and three par 5s. The 3,438-yard layout tends to slow down play at times, but it's most interesting, especially the difficult par 3s. Combined with the Red Course, it plays to more than 6,800 yards with a rating of 72.8.
Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort: The verdict
If you ask players and those associated with the Shawnee Inn whether or not it should move forward with a Doak renovation, opinions are pretty much split down the middle.
As a retreat that serves the Northeast, many feel there would be little benefit to shrinking the course to 18 holes. Others, including Kirkwood, who purchased the resort with his wife Virginia in 1977, believe a renovation would be the ticket to getting significant tournaments and national recognition.
The truth is probably somewhere in between, especially considering recent and overall improvements to the resort.
The golf course is already a fun and challenging test. During the fall, with the leaves turning on the hardwoods on the hills, it's a classic American setting.
Doak already has his fingerprint on the par-3 Tillinghast Approach Course at Shawnee. Opened in 2006, Doak designed the course with Tillinghast-style bunkers and greens, and it provides a great warm-up to your round.
There's also the Tillinghast Golf Academy. Opened in 2003, it's headed up by PGA lifetime member Jim Miller, who serves as director of instruction. Miller excels in teaching all aspects of the game, especially the short game. (I can attest to this.) He draws from his extensive experience as a head professional in the area as well as playing in the U.S. Senior Open and nine other Champions Tour events.
The academy offers schools that range from a half day to three-day packages, which can include lodging and golf. You can also take part in group clinics or receive individual lessons on the grounds, which feature extensive short-game practice areas.
OOBGolf.com Review, 11/08: Initial Thoughts
If you enjoy scenic golf on a private island in the beautiful Northeast (Shawnee on Delaware, Pennsylvania), you may want to give Shawnee Inn and Resort a closer look. Here is our updated review of a course that at one time hosted a PGA Championship.
Oobgolf had previously reviewed Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort in 2006 and we were not impressed. Well, that was then and this is now. From the moment I arrived at the resort, I could tell that this course was far from the same one that was reviewed two years ago. Shawnee is located on an island in the middle of the Delaware river and has three times been the victim of major flooding. In 2006,when the previous review was written, the course was still in flood recovery mode. It is now safe to say that the recovery is complete and Shawnee is once again back to its historically beautiful form.
Saturday, November 8th, 2008
Value - 8.0
The prime time rates for Shawnee are $65 during the week and $90 on the weekend. It is hard for me to say that any course is a "value" at $90! For that much money, I want some elevation changes and a lot of creative shot making. This course, because of its age, has neither. It is a very flat course and the design is pretty straight forward. Their twilight rates are a little more reasonable at $50 and $35. The best time to play this course is, without a doubt, during the fall season. The obvious reason is the incredible color of the changing leaves on the mountains that surround the island. And, if that isn't reason enough, their fall rates are only $35 midweek and $45 on the weekend. Now, that is a value for this caliber of course.
Pace of Play - 7.5
Fortunately, there were no groups immediately in front of my group on the morning that I played, so our round moved along quite nicely. However, the design of this course leads me to believe that pace of play could be an issue on a moderately busy day. With a limited amount of land on the island, 27 holes causes quite a few tight spots around the course where players on one hole will likely have to wait for players on nearby tees and greens. It is also likely that some tee shots will be making their way into the fairways of other holes. Additionally, there are three par threes and three par fives on the blue course. Par threes never help the pace of play and short par fives can also cause a back up as people wait to go for the green in two. Though my round moved along very well, the potential for slow play certainly exists when the amount of play becomes moderate.
Course/Maintenance - 9.0
Oobgolf rarely receives an invitation to review a course this late in the fall season, especially a course located this far north. Most courses are still recovering from the fall aeration and the cool temperatures are beginning to take their toll on fairways and tees. Yeah, that is true for most courses, but apparently Shawnee did not get that memo! I would have said that this course was in great shape if I had been playing it in July, much less November. The tees and fairways, though not cut extremely close, were in excellent shape. The greens, while small, were virtually ball-mark free. Showers during the round caused the speed of the greens to be a little slower than I expected. However, more importantly than their speed, the greens were rolling as true as any greens that I have ever putted. There were no signs or scars of any disease or fungus on any of the greens that I examined, including the practice greens. There were an average number of sand traps on this course and most were in pretty good shape. There seem to be a slight inconsistency in the amount of sand in the traps that I checked, but that is not too uncommon towards the end of the season. Overall, the course was in great shape from start to finish. Factoring in the time of year and the challenges of leaves and cold weather, I was thoroughly impressed.
Hospitality - 9.5
I, personally, put a big emphasis on the hospitality that I receive while at a golf course. After working at courses for so long, I have seen both ends of the spectrum. From both the business and customer side of the coin, there is no reason for poor hospitality at a golf course. If you want people to play your course more than once and if you want them to recommend your course to others, you treat them as if you are appreciative of their service. That is exactly the way that the staff at Shawnee treated myself and the other customers that I observed. From the gentleman behind the counter, to the bag boy, to the head pro, this staff wore a smile and was quick with a warm welcome. The customer service extended throughout the resort as I encountered staff in the restaurant, the inn, and even the bartender who helped to wash away the woes of the round! Anyone who has ever played the game knows how big of a factor hospitality is to the enjoyment of your round and the hospitality at Shawnee was second to none.
Scenery - 9.5
Twenty-four of the twenty-seven holes at Shawnee are located on a private island. Need I say more? This place is absolutely beautiful! Before I even stepped foot on the course, I was in awe of the beauty of the river and the surrounding mountains. I was not surprised to hear that this resort books upwards of eighty weddings a year when I saw how perfect of a setting this location truly is. The golf course features two par threes that actually require you to play over the river to the green. In between the tee and the green is a beautiful bridge that spans the river about twenty-five feet above the water. I would recommend a designated driver for this part of the round! The private island part of the course is nothing but golf course. There are no houses, roads, buildings or anything else to take away from this amazing natural setting. I was even fortunate enough to be about thirty-five feet from a mature bald eagle as it sat perched above its nest in a pine tree right beside the tee of the third hole on the blue course. It was an awesome experience!
If there was one thing that I could change to increase the beauty of the island, I would cut down some of the large trees that border the course in an effort to open up the view of the river. Several times, I found myself walking twenty or thirty yards from the green or tee just to catch a glimpse of the river because of the trees that were blocking my view. Most of the leaves had already fallen from the trees when I played, so I imagine during the middle of the summer, the surrounding view is much more obstructed. I suggest chopping a few more trees down and taking advantage of the breathtaking scenery that surrounds this island.
Overall - 8.7 (not an average)
Shawnee Inn and Resort is a beautiful course that offers golfers a unique private island setting with holes designed over the Delaware River. The lack of houses and roads around the course is a breath of fresh air for the golfer who is used to breaking windows and denting cars. Shawnee is an old course that has been expanded from its original 18 holes to now 27 holes. While having an extra nine holes can be nice during times of increased play, it also has a few drawbacks. My one complaint about this course was the occasional confusion as to how to get from the green of one hole to the tee of the next hole. Since the amount of space is limited, the additional nine holes causes for pretty close quarters with several opportunities for confusion about where to hit your tee shot or which tee box is the correct one for your round. Your first trip around this track will be a little confusing without a doubt. However, the condition and beauty of this golf course trumps any shortcomings in layout and puts this course on the short list of must-plays in Pennsylvania. Within a short drive from New York City, Philadelphia and all of Central Pennsylvania, Shawnee is worth the trip.
I would be remiss in my review if I didn't mention the extras that this resort has to offer. It is, after all, a resort and not just a golf course. The Inn is absolutely beautiful and far from the cookie-cutter hotels and motels that we have all gotten used to. Once inside the Inn, it doesn't take long to see and feel the history here. The rooms are decorated in a perfect blend of rustic and modern themes with an occasional Asian influence. Each room even includes your own pet plant to accommodate you during your stay! Though historic, Shawnee offers most of the modern amenities like an in house spa, indoor pool, and wi-fi as well. They offer a dozen conference rooms combining for over 15,000 square feet of meeting space. Whether it's a wedding, meeting, banquet, or just a weekend get away that you are looking for, you have to consider Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort.
Fat Guy Notes: I spent a weekend here in early Nov. '04, but unfortunately didn't get out on the course. The hotel is a grand old structure, pretty well-maintained, with a great pictoral history hanging on the walls throughout. Original owners the Worthington family sold the hotel to entertainer Fred Waring in 1940, who enhanced its rep as an exclusive get-away for the jet set for the next 20 years. Waring brought in performers like Bob Hope, Ed Sullivan, and regular Jackie Gleason, who learned to play golf here. Arnold Palmer was a regular and met his wife here. Sam Sneed was the head golf pro for a time. As for the current experience, we got a ridiculously huge room for a pretty good rate, although they failed to mention the $11/night "resort fee" when we booked through Expedia.
Where To Booze & Grub: The restaurant at the hotel does mainly buffets (which looked dried out and unappetizing), as well as a very abbreviated menu. Sam Sneed's Tavern on-site is a classy, somewhat overpriced restaurant/sports bar with a nice mix of tourist and local clientele. The food was good but not great, decent steaks ran high at $19-$26, and $5.50 for top shelf cocktails seemed a little ridiculous for this far out in the sticks. The golf simulator was a fun winter distraction, even at $40/hour. Overall I dropped $100+ more than budgeted during a standard weekend.
Further Distractions: We killed a whole Saturday doing quality outlet shopping at The Crossings (10 mi. away), but it was like XMAS at the mall getting in and out of the parking lot (except it was early November). Most other available activities involve being outdoors (golf, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, hiking, paintball), so if you're not a skier I'd stick to a visit during the warmer months. There's an indoor pool at the hotel, and a brand new Spa Shawnee opened in 2007.
Philadelphia Golf Magazine Review: One of the oldest and grandest resorts in the Poconos. The current incarnation is just about as good as it's ever been. The 111-room Shawnee Inn on the Delaware River has 3 restaurants and meeting facilities ('04 Fall weekend Expedia rates from $99-$119/night). Wealthy NY engineer C.C. Worthington built the resort in 1911 and hired A.W. Tillinghast to design the course. Even with 9 holes being added and the routing altered, you can still see the earmarks of a Tillinghast design, like the undulating greens and long tee boxes. No tricked-up holes and no blind shots.
Per Philadelphia Magazine:
The Shawnee Inn is old (built in 1911), but ask for one of the more recent Legacy Collection rooms (under $300 per night, depending on the season) in the main lodge; they're totally modern. Staying longer? Book one of the on-resort condo-like Worthington suites (again, ask for a newer one), which have full kitchens, fireplaces, and plenty of areas to unwind. Prices run about $400 a night. The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort, 570-424-4000, www.shawneeinn.com
Reward sore muscles by tossing on a $100 spa-enhancement option to your golf package at the Spa at Shawnee. You must ask for Igor - then let him do his thing. His mesmerizing unknotting, tension-melting 70-minute massage was one of the best I've had anywhere, ever. Or take advantage of Shawnee's on-the-Delaware location and rent a canoe (from $35) or kayak (from $37), or get a fishing lesson from enthusiastic instructor Will Stryeski. Guided drift-boat trips start at $120 for three hours; a fly-fishing class starts at $120 per person. Shawnee River Trips, www.shawneerivertrips.com
Staying on the resort's grounds? Have paninis and wraps for lunch at the Bistro, the open-seasonally alfresco eatery. Or walk over to Sam Snead's to mingle with the locals and hear live music; definitely get the house-smoked ribs. Off-resort, take a three-minute drive to get great pad Thai at Saen Thai Cuisine. Warning: It's a popular spot, so if there's a wait, play a round of mini golf (finally! Dominating the links!) across the street. The Bistro, 570-424-4000; Sam Snead's, 570-424-0990, www.samsneads-pa.com; Saen Thai Cuisine, 570-476-4911.
The drive is under two hours from Center City Philly, and even closer if you live near the PA Turnpike. Don't use GPS or Google maps; follow the hotel's online directions.
Other Area Tracks To Play: I overheard some locals talking about Pocono Manor CC, calling it "an experience" and pretty tight.