Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Round #27: Pennsylvania - Nemacolin Woodlands Resort (Mystic Rock)

An old neighbor and great friend of ours lives in Pittsburgh. When we first moved to Bettendorf our next door neighbors were Terry & Susan Lee. They brought a lot of fun and good times into our lives prior Alcoa transferred them to Pittsburgh. We last saw  Terry at Susan’s funeral so we were looking forward to catching up on the news. We hit the mother lobe as both of Terry’s kids were going to be in town over the Father’s Day week-end. Randy lives in New York City where he works on the NY stock exchange. He is getting married on July 28 to Carrie Hucko. Terry’s daughter, Jennifer, works in Washington, DC in a job that takes her into Africa on occasion. She was also back in Pittsburgh for Father’s Day and to host a wedding shower for Carrie. When we showed up early Sunday morning, we were greeted by all four of them. We dined on a quiche breakfast prepared by Jennifer while catching up on news of the wedding preparations and Jennifer’s recent engagement. The time flew by quickly before Carrie and Randy had to depart for their flights back to New York.
 Randy & Carrie

Jennifer, Terry & Randy
My selection of a golf course in Pennsylvania centered around Pittsburgh in order to accommodate the visit with Terry. I did not have any luck getting onto the top courses in the Pittsburgh area so I picked the Mystic Rock course 60-miles south of Pittsburgh at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.  Mystic Rock was another Pete Dye design, considered as one of "America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses" by Golf Digest. On any given hole, players will likely encounter Dye’s Sahara-like bunkers and rolling greens - but I was getting plenty of experience with his courses by now. Pete did throw a lot of rock into this course, probably because it was so plentiful in the area.

Pittsburgh industrialist Willard F. Rockwell established a private game reserve on what is now Nemacolin Woodlands and named this property Nemacolin Trails Hunting Reserve in 1968. The resort is named for Chief Nemacolin, a native Delaware Indian who trail blazed a route through the rugged Laurel Highlands Mountains in 1740. The Rockwells invited friends and business associates to hunt and fish on the hundreds of acres populated by silver fox, bear, and Russian white-tailed deer. A hunting lodge was constructed along with a golf course and airstrip. Joseph Hardy III, founder of the 84 Lumber Company, bought Nemacolin at an auction he attended in 1987 in the hopes of purchasing a few acres of woodlands near a lake or stream for his daughter, Maggie, who loved fishing. Hardy and his daughter promptly set about transforming the property into its present state – a 3,000 acre world-class resort. The resort hosted a PGA tour event known as the 84 Lumber Classic from 2003-2006 on the Mystic Rock course. 

 Chief Nemacolin is shown in the background

Round: #27
Location: Farmington, PA
Golf Digest Best-In-State Rank: #17
Date: 17 Jun, tee off at 2:10 PM
Conditions: partly sunny, 10 MPH wind, 73 degrees
Yardage: 6,313
Lost balls: 1
Score: 84 on a par 72
My original tee time was set at 3:20 PM in order to allow time to visit Terry and drive out of Pittsburgh to the course. The course was crowded as expected on Father’s Day, I arrived early with the expectation of spending time on the practice range before teeing off. The weather forecast called for a 50% catch of afternoon showers, so when the starter asked me if I wanted to go out early I jumped at the chance. My clubs were loaded onto the cart and I was off to the first tee with no warm-up.
My playing partner was Frank. He lived in Wheeling, West Virginia where operated an accounting firm. He was married with four children, two of whom were still in college. His wife was enjoying the resort’s spa while he played golf. Frank was trying to learn how to play golf and had just attended the resort’s golf academy. I encountered the same thing with the group I played Pinehurst with - after attending a golf academy they start to over-think the game. We also had a fore caddy named Tyler who was not into his job at all. He walked up the fairway like a tortoise; he looked like his girl friend had just dumped him as he was not into his job at all (he missed watching our tee shots at times which is his primary duty). My shots were finding the fairway. Frank was having problems following his ball flight so he relied on me to tell him when to reach in his pocket to re-hit his tee shot. Tyler will be a junior at Penn State University majoring in Environmental Engineering. I hope he finds more energy for that career, because it will be very difficult to live off of his skill as a caddy.  
 299-yard par 4 hole #1 (view from the green back up the fairway)

 379-yard par 4 hole #2

335-yard par 4 hole #4 

504-yard par 5 hole #5

I was playing well in spite of the hazards Pete Dye had thrown at me. With two birdie putts that rolled by the hole, I was made several pars and managed to avoid any double bogeys. My string ran out at the 18th tee box when it started to rain as we approached the tee. Frank and I hurried up our play to finish the round in spite of the shower; I finished with the only double bogey of the day. The rain quit as we drove up to the club house.
 336-yard par 4 hole #10 (view of the green from hole #11 tee box)

 507-yard par 5 hole #11 (view of the approach to the green from the fairway)

 166-yard par 3 hole #12

 512-yard par 5 hole #16

Hole #16 (view from the rough of approach to the green) 

166-yard par 3 hole #17

Mystic Rock did have some unique features along the course. On the first tee box was a statue and plaque honoring the accomplishments of Vijay Singh, who won the 84 Lumber Classic tournament in 2004. The number “84” was displayed in white rock on the backside of the hole #16 tee box, a visible display from the hole #5 green. The last unique feature was a piece of modern art displayed between the hole #4 tee box and the hole #11 fairway. Tittled “Square Piece” by Wendy Taylor, it was originally commissioned for a private collection in Piano, Illinois. The piece was purchased at an auction by Joseph Hardy in 2001 and moved to Mystic Rock.
 Vijay Singh

 Back side of the hole #16 tee box

"Square Piece"

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