You might call it the Laurel and Hardy show of golf since Joe Hardy, owner of 84 Lumber purchased land in the Laurel Mountains of southwest Pennsylvania with a vision of creating a resort that is fun for everyone. At 94 he is still enjoying the fruits of his labor though he turned the reins of both companies over to his capable daughter Maggie. When she was
24 he said, “You’re going to run 84.” Maggie is innovative and wild about the fun goal, constantly adding attractions to the 2000 acres.
You can take a walk on the wild side of the wooded wonderland – an animal park with lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Or you can take your own reins for a horse ride at the equestrian
center next to the exotic animal barn where monkeys amuse. The miniature golf course looks like an amusement park by itself while the 18-hole Mystic
Rock Course at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is rated the number one public course in Pennsylvania. The beauty of the landscape is mesmerizing as the fairways and greens are interwoven with the fabric of streams, lakes and rock outcroppings. To navigate this course means correct positioning for any chance of pars. A few blind shots over hills and valleys have hidden slopes to the landing area. It may have been a devious Pete Dye design, but with wise decisions, can be very playable, especially with the guidance of a forecaddie. The grounds and greens are in mint condition.
Through the recession years Nemacolin “fell apart,” according to Maggie but after “$250 fricking million dollars” the grand opening of Shepherd’s Rock, architected by Pete Dye and Tim Liddy, represents a rebirth. A bagpipe parade led to the ribbon cutting ceremony from Horizon Point to the 9th green with flutes of champagne en route. Draped in Tartan, Val the mascot ram joined the Hardy family with celebs from Duck Dynasty and John Daly for the momentous occasion. The course vista was breathtaking as the 84 Lumber hot air balloon inhaled and exhaled proudly. An inaugural round followed with food, cigars and beverage samplings at tee boxes from the many fine restaurants throughout the resort. Never have we experienced the high quality consistency in cuisine between so many chefs and kitchens directed by Executive Chef Matt Moore. We grazed the course like happy sheep, coming 6 feet from winning the hole in one Maserati on #8. On the 9th hole John Daly powered balls to the fairway with his winning new Vertical Groove driver.
Maggie Hardy Magerko chose the name Shepherd’s Rock to honor her life shepherd, her father and founder, Joe Hardy. She brought Mike Jones from Kapalua in Hawaii to direct operations. He and his staff are happily at your service every second. He says, “What’s great is the variety of holes.” Wispy grasses adorn the flowing hills below the Laurel Mountains where Maggie said we should scream in the hills. Indeed on 16 we sang, “The Hills are Alive” for the 360-degree views. The course encircles the Falling Rock boutique hotel culminating on 18 with a large lake, cascading waterfalls and a hippo sculpture. 98 whimsical sculptures are positioned around every corner, many of rams and birds. Shepherd’s Rock will indubitably join its sister Mystic Rock as a top course to play for decades to come.
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort really does have something for everyone. The Nemacolin Field Club offers The Shooting Academy and Orvis Fly Fishing. Sign up for zip lining, wall climbing, off roading, paintball, biking, hiking, and bowling at the Adventure Center. At the Wildlife Academy explore habitats; take a safari tour, or African train ride. In winter dogsledding is a sport along with snow tubing and skiing. But Arizonans should visit in the summer to beat the heat. For valley gamblers Lady Luck Casino includes 600 slot machines and 28 table games. An art studio, tours and classes cover the cultural scene. The wellness focus is covered by a spa, healing center, fitness center and salon. Added are car and plane museums and more. Shuttles transport to all areas every few minutes or there is the Rolls Royce and Bentley transport service, returning you home to one of the many exquisite accommodation in Falling Rock, the Lodge or the magnificent Chateau
Lafayette where bedrooms have 3 chandeliers. Maggie said, “I’d put Nemacolin up against anybody on any continent.” We agree. It is one of the most impressive resort destinations in the world.