Great Bear Golf Club Out of Hibernation

When Charlie Kirkwood and a local ownership group thought about purchasing Great Bear Golf Club (formerly Great Bear Golf & Country Club) in East Stroudsburg, Pa., there were plenty of positives for them to consider.

Great Bear opened in 1997 as a private club and was not only the lone Jack Nicklaus signature design in an area known for 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 boasts an architect who is one of the most famous names in golf and has 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 weren't able to keep up with mounting financial pressures caused by a weakening economy and the property was closed in 2010.

Kirkwood - who also owns nearby Shawnee Country Club, an 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 auction.

Now Kirkwood's historic Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort offers stay-and-play packages at what many consider to be the finest two golf courses in the region. The new owners have already 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 semiprivate status, Great Bear celebrates an April 2013 Grand Reopening from April 26 to May 23 (packages include two rounds/one night double-occupancy) starting at $166 weekdays and $234 weekends. These stay-and-play packages feature golf, cart and range privileges at Great Bear and Shawnee Country Club, one night at Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort, breakfast and all taxes and gratuities.

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.

The Great Bear course stretches more than 7,000 yards from the tips. Nicklaus took advantage of the site and worked to create a course that, besides its play, involves three lakes, several streams, wetlands, small bridges and rolling terrain.

Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort enjoys a rich history. In 1912, C.C. Worthington invited a group of professional golfers to be his guests at what was then called Buckwood Inn. It is said that this meeting led to the formation of the present-day PGA of America. Twenty-six years later, in 1938, Shawnee hosted the PGA Championship, where Sam Snead, Shawnee's touring professional at the time, lost to Paul Runyon.

For more information about Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort and Great Bear Golf Club, call 800/742-9623, email, or visit