Golfer’s Disneyland in Pennsylvania

Second ‘Champagne’ check-in

“But Mr. DeMarchi, it looks like you already checked in yesterday?” said the young man behind the registration desk.  “Does that mean I can’t have another glass of Champagne?” I asked, and emerging with Champagne on a silver tray a young lady replied, “of course you can!”

That is just the way it is at Nemacolin Woodlands, you will want for nothing!

Trying to check-in to a hotel that I was already checked into was a first!  As was waking up staring at 2 massive chandeliers overhead.  As a bubble guy, remiss that I did not think of going for breakfast bubbles!  It must have been because my first coffee of the day was poured out of a silver cafetiere in a garden room setting, with a background of gently chirping canaries.

Believe me that was only the beginning of the WOW factor presented from the moment you ascend and see the Chateau Lafayette at Nemacolin Woodlands.

Who would have thought that in the rolling Laurel Highlands, of the Allegheny Mountains approximately 70 miles southeast of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania is a little piece of heaven?  The Chateau Lafayette (my home for a few days) is just one of three exquisite accommodations onsite one of which Five Star, Five Diamond, Falling Rock, just so happens to be where both golf courses meet is recognized by Forbes Travel Guide as “World’s Most Luxurious.”

Arriving on Memorial Day Monday, the flags on the golf course were flush with red, white and blue!  Too early to check in, it was a quick lunch poolside at Falling Rock and the Pete Dye / Tim Liddy designed Shepherd’s Rock course was on the agenda!  Opened in 2017 the course received Honorable Mention in Golfweek’s – “Best New Golf Course” and also opened up to #60 on Golf Digest’s “Best U.S. Courses You Can Play” list.

One of the challenges of playing at Nemacolin are the distractions around the course and around the entire property.  Random forms of art appear on or near tee boxes, along fairways and in the woods.  Depending on your travel around the resort you might stop in at the zoo or play a round of elaborate mini golf!

Shepherd’s Rock is the younger of the two courses, providing more in the way of elevation changes in panoramic views of the Allegheny Mountains.  Fairways are wide, but level stances can only be guaranteed on the tee boxes.  Not much in the way of water hazards to deal with but the 18th hole will make a lasting impression from approach to the departure!

Shepherd’s Rock might be considered the easier of the two, Dye and Liddy seemed to make the approach to the greens a little more accessible, but in a way made up for it with the contours.

Par 5’s are particularly memorable with the long sweeping 1st giving you an idea of what is in store. My favorite hole on the front was the par 5 – 4th, wide double fairway with a huge white sand bunker lined in railroad ties gawking awaiting your second shot.

No question and this might be the course’s signature hole – par 4, 18th.  Just over 400 yards for us regular folks with water along the right side leading to a waterfalls behind the green.  Spectacular!!!

Mystic Rock, having played host to the PGA Tours 84 Lumber Classic from 2003 – 2006 starts and finishes with a couple of pretty non-descript holes…don’t despair there are 16 WOW factor holes in between!  Fairways are a little tighter and plenty of more drama added by many beautiful water hazards!  Bring your camera – great pics to be had!

Although both courses have the “touch of Dye” there are distinctive differences.  From the 2nd hole on you feel the fairways narrow and from the 2nd tee box your view to the left is of expansive water to navigate your way around on holes 16 and 17.

To the plentiful water views, Dye and Liddy intertwined a collection of massive and typical Dye Style pot bunkers with a smattering huge boulders and outcroppings.  Too many great holes to pick any one as a favorite…….and thus the collection of awards!

Editor’s Choice “Best Golf Resorts in the Americas” (Nemacolin Woodlands Resort) – Golf Digest
#1 “Best Courses in Pennsylvania” – Golfweek
#40 “Best Resort Golf Courses” – Golfweek
#60 “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses” – Golf Digest
#16 “Best in State – Pennsylvania” – Golf Digest
#22 “American’s Top 50 Courses for Women” – Golf Digest 

So you’ve never had an excuse to visit Pittsburgh, well you still don’t have one unless you like baseball – great park to watch the Pirates.

Just keep on going, slightly over an hour south and east of Pittsburgh this magical setting will impress.  Three exquisite and luxurious lodging properties plus a limited number of condo style units.

Over and above the two exceptional golf courses, likely the best ‘one/two punch’ in the State, there are outdoor activities galore: tennis, mountain biking, rock climbing, paintball, shooting, archery and fishing.

Have kids with you? How about bowling or a visit to the zoo? You can do that too!

For those looking for some relaxation there are five swimming pools, a luxurious award winning spa with more treatment rooms than I could count and an art gallery.  A nice stroll will lead you to art, just because it is everywhere…

Dining and adult beverages, now that is something I know something about.  Plenty of options from tavern from five star, local and farm inspired to an ice cream parlour…I would be remiss if I did not mention the wine cellar with over 20,000 bottles!

Lunches by the pool at Falling Rock, pre golf was a winner!  Casual but classy Italian at Barattolo Italian is a must if you like wood oven pizza, a little ceasar salad and a little red wine!

Of course after a beautiful day golf, a fine martini and steak and of course more red wine at Rockwell’s takes the cake for me!