Tucked behind the trees near the Pennsylvania-West Virginia border is perhaps one of travel’s best-kept secrets: Nemacolin.
A “golfer’s paradise” is not the first phrase that comes to mind when I think about remote, wooded Pennsylvania. Boy, was I wrong.
Nemacolin is one of those places where you come for the golf but stay for a myriad of reasons. A golfer’s paradise? Maybe. But this special 2,200-acre property is much more than a place to chase a little white ball.
After spending a few days taking in everything that Nemacolin has to offer, I’ve come to a conclusion that serves as the outline to this article: Nemacolin has something for everyone.
Looking for amazing golf that’s challenging and rewarding? Nemacolin has that. What about a romantic dinner and relaxing day at the spa? You’re taken care of at Nemacolin. Between the multiple fine-dining experiences, outdoor recreational activities and luxurious lodging—if you leave Nemacolin bored, it’s your own dang fault.
Nemacolin is truly a gift. No, really, Nemacolin came to be when Joseph Hardy III, founder of 84 Lumber, purchased the property in 1987 as a gift to his daughter, Maggie. Since that time, creating a truly breathtaking resort experience has been Maggie’s mission.
After taking over the resort full time in 2002, Maggie’s unwavering commitment to improvement has taken Nemacolin from a little-known woodland resort to a place that truly personifies the property’s tagline: Real Life Magic.
Nemacolin Resort Overview
Luxury accommodations: Three hotels, three estates and eight unique homes
Two Pete Dye-designed golf courses: Mystic Rock and Shepherd’s Rock.
Ten dining experiences and six bars/lounges
Premium resort amenities including the Woodlands Spa and Salon, Holistic Healing Center and The Peak (a recreational paradise featuring bowling, paintball, Jeep trail tours and more)
Between the two Pete Dye courses and Nemacolin’s Golf Academy, every golfer will find Nemacolin’s golf offerings to be world-class.
Slope Rating: 149
Course Rating: 77
Mystic Rock absolutely lives up to its name. Perched high in the hills of the scenic Laurel Highlands, the views from Mystic Rock are terrific. From my experience, while Mystic Rock plays as the more “friendly” of Nemacolin’s two Dye courses, there are plenty of places to get in trouble if you aren’t careful.
Slope Rating: 138
Course Rating: 74.7
On paper, Shepherd’s Rock plays easier than Mystic Rock. However, with nearly three times as many bunkers as Mystic and difficult green complexes, Shepherd’s Rock is quite a challenge. If you’re lucky enough to avoid one of the 149 bunkers that dot Shepherd’s Rock, getting the ball to stop on the green is still not a guarantee. Darn you, Pete Dye.
Shepherd’s Rock features a different set of views including a few holes that wind through Nemacolin’s animal exhibits where, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot Kenahkihinen, one of the few white buffalo left in the world.
Nemacolin Golf Academy
If you’re feeling a little dejected after your round, stop in at Nemacolin Golf Academy for a quick tuneup. The 4,000-square-foot facility is packed with helpful tech like Trackman, Foresight GC3 and Swing Catalyst’s Balance and Dual Force Plates. Headed up by Michael LaBella, the four custom hitting bays and 25-station driving range provide plenty of practice space.
More Than a Golf Resort
That thing I said about Nemacolin having something for everyone? I wasn’t kidding. If you come to Nemacolin to golf and nothing more, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Seriously, I’d venture to say that Nemacolin’s 36 holes are the warm-up for the rest of what this special resort has to offer.
Looking for a little adventure? Head over to The Peak, where you can enjoy a private cabana at the pool after taking a thrilling Jeep ride through the mountainous trails of the Laurel Highlands. Don’t worry, if you get a little car sick they’ll let you sit up front. Feeling less adventurous? The Peak also has a slick bowling alley and even ax throwing for those who need to let off a little stream.
Then head over to the Field Club where you can tackle two sporting clay courses with more than 30 shooting stations. After obliterating a few sporting clays, guests can learn to fly fish, shoot rifles and take guided bird hunts (in season).
Need some time to wind down after a long day of activities? Head over to the Woodlands Spa and Salon. Here guests can enjoy a host of treatments. Stop in for a full massage or take a minute in the sauna to breathe. You deserve some relaxation, after all.
From there, take a walk through Nemacolin’s wildlife sanctuary. Friendly lions, tigers and mountain goats (among other animals) are happy to greet you. If you’re lucky enough to stay in the Washington Townhomes, you’ll be serenaded by the lion’s roar each morning.
Stop in at Aqueous for a four-star seafood feast. If succulent seafood isn’t your shindig, take a quick shuttle ride over to Barattolo for a robust Italian dinner (don’t forget to try the cannolis).
After-dinner drinks? I thought you’d never ask. Besides sipping on a beverage at one of Nemacolin’s lounges like the Amber Bar or Hardy Cigar Room, you must make an effort to get to The Bleu Room, Nemacolin’s signature lounge. Hidden behind a secret door, The Bleu Room is an invite-only space that is as elegant as it is exclusive.
When that sweet tooth won’t stop bothering you, make sure you pop by PJ’s Ice Cream Parlor for a delectable chocolate malt or a scoop of your favorite flavor.
From the wait staff to the chefs, each dining experience at Nemacolin’s 10 restaurants was professional, personalized and an absolute joy. Ordering room service is an option, sure, but why do that when you can do all of this? Take it from someone who’d rather eat Shake Shack in bed than put on a nice shirt for a night out: Nemacolin’s fine-dining scene is a must try.
Not only is Nemacolin constantly improving but the property is undergoing renovations right now that will transform the already breathtaking experience.
Opening this fall, Nemacolin’s Grand Lodge will feature 56 suites with butler service, upgraded amenities and new dining experiences.
The exquisite suites have unique marble countertops and flooring, all which have been hand-picked by Maggie Hardy. And while it definitely costs more money to do it this way, you’ll quickly learn that Maggie doesn’t settle for “just OK”. If that doesn’t give you an insight into her attention to detail and excellence, I don’t know what will.
Along with the upgraded suites, the Grand Lodge will feature a brand-new dining experience, Fawn & Fable. This upscale (dare I say boujee?) features a menu of steakhouse classics that are sustainably sourced from local ingredients.
Not to be outdone by Fawn & Fable, the Grand Lodge will also feature a new lounge, the Circle Bar. This cozy, circular bar and lounge encourages guests to engage with one another (and have a craft cocktail or two).
Where does one have to go to find a magical resort experience? Nemacolin is a great place to start. Perhaps the biggest indicator of Nemacolin’s success is this: They truly put the guest experience first. Above all else—even profit—Nemacolin wants to make sure you have a magical experience.