EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. -- When Charlie Kirkwood and a local ownership group first thought about purchasing Great Bear Golf Club (formerly Great Bear Golf & Country Club) there were plenty of positives for them to consider: When Great Bear opened in 1997 as a private club, it became not only the lone Jack Nicklaus signature design in an area renowned in past generations for legendary names like Hagen, Sarazen, Snead and Palmer rolling through town playing golf, it also immediately became one of the Northeast's most talked about new designs.
Great Bear boasted an architect who is one of the most famous names in golf and an armload of course honors — including Top 20 Best Golf Courses in Pennsylvania from Golf Digest, Top 8 Best Courses in Pennsylvania from Golfweek and a Top 100 Women Friendly Courses in the Country from Golf for Women. Yet, prior owners of Great Bear had not been able to keep up with the mounting financial pressures caused by a weakening economy and subsequently closed the property in 2010.
Kirkwood — who also owns the nearby Shawnee Country Club, an original A.W. Tillinghast design that is part of The Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort just three miles away from Great Bear — and others purchased Great Bear at a 2012 autumn auction.
Now Kirkwood's historic Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort offers value packed stay-and-play packages at what many consider to be the finest two golf courses in the region. Wasting no time, the new ownership team has already kick-started significant improvements to Great Bear by aerating the greens, refurbishing bunkers and the practice area, ordering new golf carts and repaving the parking lot and driveway.
With its new semi-private status, Great Bear celebrates its April 2013 Grand Re-opening with all-inclusive spring packages from April 26 to May 23 (2 rounds/1 night double occupancy) starting at $166 weekday and $234 weekend. These stay-and-play packages feature golf, cart and range privileges at Great Bear and Shawnee Country Club, one night at historic Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort, breakfast and all tax and gratuity.
Conveniently located just eight miles off Route I-80 and 15 minutes from the Delaware Water Gap and New Jersey State Line, Great Bear is also less than 100 miles from both New York City and Philadelphia.
Nicklaus' signature Great Bear course stretches to more than 7,000 yards from the tips, making proper selection of tees of paramount importance before golfers have even struck their opening tee shot. Nicklaus took the natural advantages of his site and worked harmoniously with them to create a course that, besides its play, is an experience in itself.
Integrating a trio of lakes, several streams, wetlands, small bridges and rolling terrain, the Nicklaus team constructed 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 their 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 a golfer plays it.
The new-and-improved Great Bear will add to the lineage of legendary golf around the Pocono Mountains and Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort. In 1912, C.C. Worthington invited a group of professional golfers to be his guests at what was then called the Buckwood Inn. It is said that this meeting led to the formation of the present-day PGA and the first PGA Championships. Twenty-six years later, in 1938, Shawnee hosted the PGA Championships, where Sam Snead, Shawnee's touring professional at the time, lost to Paul Runyon.
For more information or to speak to a golf package specialist, call 800-742-9623, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.GreatBearGC.com.
Martin Armes, 919-608-7260, email@example.com
Brad King, 336-306-9219, firstname.lastname@example.org