Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau
Sitting on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in an inexplicable, agonizing midday backup brought back memories of interminable drives with my three little brothers that were known in my family as “car trips.”
A particularly memorable one got derailed at the New Jersey Turnpike because a toll-taker noticed our camper’s taillights weren’t working. We finally rolled into our campsite around midnight to set up in the dark.
“What possessed you to take four little kids on a camping trip to the Poconos?” I asked the 70-something-year-olds now in my car (who asked not to be identified in this story).
“We thought it would be good for you to broaden your experiences, make you a more well-rounded person,” The Woman said.
I flashed back to a well-worn copy of a Dr. Spock paperback that made its way around our house in Baltimore, and I nodded. Now we were heading back to the Poconos for reverse-generational rounding, on a little spring golf getaway to discover how the classic family-with-kids destination measured on the grownup-with-parents scale.
The answer: Off the charts and beyond expectations. Even in marginal weather, Poconos resorts pull out all the activity stops for families. And for golfers – who can choose from more than 35 courses ranging from rustic to world-class – the scenery and history blur bogeys and build bliss.
This adventure really begins at Petey’s Eateys in Belfast, Penn., where we exit the highway because we’re hungry and game to try a local spot. This gas station has a kitchen attached where you order at the window then sit at a table on the covered patio and devour delicious sandwiches.
With the best grilled cheese I have ever had comes word via cell phone from Fernwood, where we hope to play some golf on arrival, that it’s pouring there. Bummer. As we ascend into the southern area of the four-county region, the temperature drops, and when we arrive at our Fernwood villa, shorts are replaced with pants.
We marvel at the accommodations, big enough for extended family and just a trolley stop or two away from the central hotel that houses restaurants (a nod here to Mama Bella’s for pasta), pools, the “game zone,” a food court and a fitness center. The villas, situated around the 18-hole course, also have pools, mini-golf and paintball fields. Rain, shmain – there’s surely a craft class, bingo game or human tic-tac-toe on the day’s schedule.
But we head for the tee of a winter-worn but lovely course that starts with three flat holes then climbs into the hills and winds through the villas. Just 4,588 yards (6,174 from the blues), the red tees suit us perfectly, what with a light drizzle and with The Man having recently sustained some injuries.
After nine holes we tour the back, and, wow, what elevation changes. Head pro Rich Millford is absolutely right – no two holes look the same at Fernwood, which gets harder as you go and finishes with a scenic, narrow par-4. We agree that with afternoon rounds less than $35 including cart, it’s also a fine bargain – as are stay-and-play packages as low as $138 for an overnight stay with golf for two.