CLASS TIME: 1 Day
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Medium
My golf lesson with Craig Anderson, one of the pros at the quaint, riverside Shawnee Inn in the Poconos, gave me confidence. (It also helps that the Tillinghast Golf Academy’s short course is ideal for beginners like me.) After Anderson illustrated the basics – a good grip, proper stance, ideal posture – he handed me a sand wedge. I was shocked that my lofted balls, hit after hit, continued to float toward the practice pin. After a few gentle adjustments to my backswing (to fix that hook), I was ready for my scheduled round of nine holes. Gulp. And even though I butchered my way through every one, friendly staffers and golfers put me at ease, and the whole experience confirmed two things for me: 1) More than one lesson is very important. 2) Golf is actually fun. (Did you know there’s a girl who drives around the course to bring you Combos and beer?)
Shawnee’s Tillinghast Golf Academy is great for beginners and moderate players who are looking to brush up on specific skills. Options for one-on-one time with a professional abound: Get a private lesson for $75, or a one-hour lesson, lunch and nine holes of golf for $110. Looking to further develop your game? Book one of the golf packages, which include overnight accommodations, 18 holes of play and breakfast, from $136 per person. The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort, 570-424-4000, shawneeinn.com
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, 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, 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, samsneads-pa.com; Saen Thai Cuisine, 570-476-4911.
The drive is under two hours from Center City, and even closer if you live near the PA Turnpike. Don’t use GPS or Google maps; follow the hotel’s online directions.
The whole resort is casual, although the inn requests that you don’t wear denim. Khakis and layers-the mountains can get chilly at night-plus golf attire are ideal.
Back in Philly: Continue taking classes with pros who are patient with beginners. Bob Kramer at the RiverCrest Golf Club in Phoenixville (610-781-4234, kramersgolf.com) has been named the PGA Teacher of the Year twice, and offers year-round instruction.
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