The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort, over 100 years in operation and located in the small town of Shawnee on Delaware, boasts one of only a limited number of championship golf courses designed by legendary golf architect A.W. Tillinghast that are open to the public, with Shawnee being his first design ever. A total of 24 of the resort’s 27 holes on the course are located on a private island in the middle of the Delaware River.
Many of the game’s greats of golf during the first half of the 20th century played at Shawnee, including Walter Hagan, Lawson Little, Johnny Farrell and later Arnold Palmer. Television stars Jackie Gleason, Lucille Ball, Perry Como and Ed Sullivan made the resort, nicknamed “The Gem of the Northeast,” a regular stop.
The first Inn owner C.C. Worthington was a driver of big time golf in the country. In 1911 he staged a professional tournament, then somewhat uncommon, to raise awareness of the game and the talents of the men who played for pay. The pinnacle of Shawnee’s role in the development of modern professional golf was when the PGA held its Championship there in 1938, with the event being won by Paul Runyon in a dramatic finish over Sam Snead.
Great Bear Golf Club, formerly known as Great Bear Golf and Country Club, came under ownership of nearby Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort recently. Great Bear, the area’s only Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, opened to stellar reviews in 1997 and operated as a private club through 2011. Great Bear Golf Club plays to 7,025 yards from its longest tees and is tee to green bent grass, with tee to green irrigation and no parallel fairways.
Integrating the three lakes, several streams, wetlands, small bridges and rolling terrain, Nicklaus created a course that presents itself differently to golfers of varying skill. For the experienced player, the course offers interesting challenges and pro tees that will bring out your strongest game. Yet it’s also designed to be a course with the ultimate in playability, ensuring enjoyable round after round, revealing its intricacies and craftsmanship the more you play it. Great Bear is destined to be one of the Golden Bear’s great ones.
Shawnee’s golf course demands thoughtful tee shots and approaches to the small, tricky greens. Depending upon which configuration of 18 holes is played, the course measures from around 6,500 yards to slightly over 6,700 yards.
The Red Course concludes with a difficult 457-yard par-four, the longest par-four among the 27 holes at the resort. The Blue Course ends with a great par-three, a 230-yarder, and the White Course is a fun mix that has an equal number of threes, fours and fives.
One of the most unique features of the course is that two par-threes, the Red Course’s second hole and the seventh on the Blue Course, play over the Delaware River. The holes, which measure 165 and 180 yards respectively, demand a full carry over water of about 100 yards.
Shawnee also offers a very good practice facility with target greens designed by noted architect Tom Doak. In the evening, the practice facility and part of the driving range are turned into a lighted par-three short course with holes ranging from 45 to 138 yards in length.
There are three restaurants located on the Shawnee Inn property, the Gem and Keystone Brewpub, as well as the River Room and the Courtyard Grill, which range from fine dining to casual fare. Spa Shawnee and Salon soothes the body after a long and active day.
Dining at both The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort and Great Bear Golf Club has evolved this year with the addition of new executive chefs at both properties. Chef Rodney Tallada of the Shawnee Inn is creating a new dining experience that will blend the tapestry of offerings available at Shawnee, which includes the resort’s Shawnee Craft Brewery, the Great Shawna Island Farms, and the Shawnee Apiary. Chef Guarino Cortese of Great Bear Golf Club was born in Torino Italy, and into four generations of winemakers and culinary masters.
Cortese has over 25 years of culinary experience and will enhance every dinning option that Great Bear Golf Club as to offer.
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