Review: Pocono Manor Golf Course

Course Name: Pocono Manor Golf Course

Designer: Donald Ross (1912, 9 holes), William Flynn (1924, Redesign)

Location: Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania

History: Pocono Manor has a storied history but its origins are a bit murky. The course claims Donald Ross designed an original 9 holes here in 1912 including today’s current holes 1-6, 17, and 18. Many dispute the fact that Ross had anything to do with the project and even the Resort admits Ross probably didn’t visit the property personally. In the early 1920s, it is clear, however, that William Flynn redesigned the course and built holes 7-16 on the other side of Route 314. In 1959, a second course designed by George Fazio opened at the Resort, but has since closed.

Pocono Manor was home to Art Wall Jr. and he represented the course when he won The Masters in 1959. His son Greg is the current pro. The course has hosted several PGA matches over the years including some involving Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead.

Conditions: 7/10, The greens are a bit on the slow side and there were some barren patches when I played, but overall Pocono Manor is in solid condition for a mountain course.

Value: 10/10, Representing one of the best values anywhere, I paid only $35 with a cart included on a weekday. While I expect rates are a bit higher on weekends in peak season, Pocono Manor is money very well-spent.


Tee                           Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Blue                         72            6565              68.6              115

White                      72           6304               67.3              114

Green                      72           5932               63.1               105

Red                          74           5835               66.7              116

Hole Descriptions: Located in the heart of the Poconos about an hour and a half from New York and Philadelphia, Pocono Manor is a historic mountain course with a great pedigree of Donald Ross (?) and William Flynn. I had heard good things from friends who had played it and very much looked forward to my round here. The course itself features significant elevation changes and beautiful views of the surrounding hills. It feels very “old school” and features a number of quirky and blind holes that would never be designed today but are quite memorable and enjoyable to play. The greens are very well-designed as could be expected from these architects and the value here is incredible. It is one of the more underrated courses I’ve played and is what I’d consider a hidden gem, especially for those who enjoy classic architecture. The overall feel of the course feels something like a lite version of a combination of Pinehurst and the Cascades Course at the Homestead, and I can’t recommend Pocono Manor highly enough.

The opening hole is supposedly preserved from the original 9 holes and is a 550 yard straightaway par 5. While lengthy, there’s simply not much to this bunkerless, tree-lined hole I’d say is the most boring on the course. This green slopes back-to-front and I like the chocolate drop mounds of fescue littered throughout this hole.

The par 5 1st

Pocono Manor is not a difficult course but it starts out tough with another beast in the 480 yard par 4 2nd hole. The number 1 handicap, this hole plays straightaway over a plateau with OB lining either side. A mound of fescue juts into the fairway at 330 yards but any straight drive here should be fine. This green slopes left-to-right and back-to-front and has clearly shrunk over the years, with a back rim of rough and left bunker further from the surface than you’d expect. Pars are a great score here.

The semi-blind par 4 2nd
The approach at 2

There’s no denying the par 3 7th hole is the signature hole at Pocono Manor, but in terms of quirk and memorability, I think the par 3 3rd might have it beat. At 194 yards, this wild one-shotter plays completely blind to a hidden green at the bottom of a valley. This green is extremely small, slow, and plays relatively flat. This extremely unorthodox hole is quite difficult for first time golfers and would not be found on a modern design.

Take less club and pray at the par 3 3rd
The unique 3rd green has shrunk over the years and the ball doesn’t fall down the hill like it should

The 4th hole is a straightaway, uphill 315 yard par 4 playing over a brief forced carry. This hole is most notable for a severely right-to-left sloped green surrounded by a really neat embankment on the right that seems like it would be found on a Raynor course.

The par 4 4th
A closer look at the 4th green

At 320 yards, the 5th hole is another short par 4 that plays severely downhill and reachable. This extremely fun hole is lined by trees on both sides and features a downhill fairway that ends at 280 yards with a creek and yields very few level lies. A back-to-front sloped green lies on the other side of the hazard.

The semi-blind par 4 5th
The approach at 5 must traverse a hazard

The 6th hole is another really nice hole as a 412 yard slight dogleg right par 4. This teebox is well-below the fairway and yields another semi-blind teeshot over a plateau in the fairway. Like the fairway, this narrow green slopes left-to-right and sits beautifully in the shadows of tall trees.

Anything over the hill at 6 works
The approach at 6 – I love how this green sits in the shadows and feels like it is meant to be there

When you arrive at the par 3 7th and see 77 yards on the scorecard, you might chuckle but take this hole lightly at your own peril. Again playing semi-blind depending on the teebox you play, this hole plays severely downhill and requires a pitch over a creek to a shallow, severely back-to-front sloped green. It’s really difficult to get this distance right and convince yourself to hit it this short, and this is evidenced by Arnold Palmer’s double bogey here in 1968.

The famous par 3 7th

The 8th hole is a bit more traditional but is still a solid hole as a 340 yard uphill par 4. Trees line both sides of this hole which features a back-to-front sloped green surrounded by chocolate drop fescue mounds.

The par 4 8th

The 9th hole is another nice hole as a 385 yard tree-lined, dogleg left par 4. The ideal drive here is about 250 yards, leaving a wedge into a back-to-front sloped green again surrounded by mounds.

The par 4 9th

At 515 yards, the 10th hole is a dogleg right tree-lined par 5 with the turn around 250 yards. A large, clever fescue mound down the left about 75 yards short of the green complicates this lay-up and leaves a blind shot in for many. This green is again surrounded by chocolate drop mounds and contains several internal plateaus.

The par 5 10th is a fun driving hole
The approach at 10

The 11th hole is another hole I’m a big fan of as a 385 yard par 4. This hole feels very “open” from the teebox but in reality features a snaking fairway that narrows and turns left around 220 yards with a hill of fescue down the right at this point. This green runs left-to-right lined by OB long.

A large fescue mound down the left frames this teeshot beautifully
The approach at 11

The 12th hole is Pocono Manor’s shortest par 5 at 460 yards and one of the weaker holes on the course playing straightaway and tree-lined. The most notable feature of this hole is a large fescue mound in the middle of the fairway at around 230 yards which you would be wise to avoid. Otherwise, this hole is fairly straightforward culminating in a flat green lined by mounds right.

The par 5 12th

At 202 yards, the 13th hole is the longest par 3 on the course and plays slightly longer uphill. This green slopes back-to-front and is relatively danger free with mounds well-short.

The par 3 13th

There are many areas at Pocono Manor that remind me of Pinehurst courses and the 14th here reminds me a lot of the 15th at Pine Needles. Both medium-length par fives, this hole plays 530 yards slightly downhill and straightaway. While there are no bunkers here, sequential mounds of fescue run down this hole beginning at 205 yards down the left. This green is quite large and contains a middle ridge.

The par 5 14th

After some scoreable par fives to begin the back nine, the 15th hole is one of the toughest holes on the course as a 450 yard par 4. This hole plays semi-blind over a plateau to a fairway that turns slightly left with a large fescue mound down the right until 215 yards. This approach is made more difficult by the fact that this green slopes front-to-back and is difficult to hold with long iron or wood. This is an excellent hole and one where par is a great score.

You’ll need a big drive at 15
The approach at 15

The 16th hole is an interesting 340 yard dogleg left par 4 playing severely downhill to a fairway that turns left and uphill. This hole is made more difficult by thick trees that run down the left the entire way and obscure portions of the fairway and green. Despite the fact that this hole is short, you’ll need at least a 220 yard carry to reach this fairway over fescue and a creek. Those who are able to navigate this teeshot will be left an uphill approach to a right-to-left sloped green sitting on a pedestal.

The quirky 16th is a hole where local knowledge comes in handy

The 17th is another strange hole playing as a severe dogleg right at 425 yards. This hole begins rather claustrophobic through a chute of trees and could benefit from some tree removal near the teebox. Trees continue down the right the entire way and you can’t really cut the corner here with the dogleg occurring at 260 yards. This hole then turns hard right towards a flat, defenseless green.

The par 4 17th
The approach at 17

In somewhat fitting fashion for a course as unorthodox as Pocono Manor, the closing hole is a par 3 at 185 yards. This hole doesn’t feel much like the rest of the course playing over a water hazard to a large, back-to-front sloped green lined by bunkers. As far as I can tell, these are the only greenside bunkers on the course besides 2!

The par 3 18th is a fine hole but doesn’t jive with the rest of the holes

General Comments: Practice facilities at Pocono Manor include a very nice grass driving range and small, slow putting green near the Proshop. The clubhouse is cozy and features some very cool original blueprints from William Flynn. Pace of play was fairly strong and the course was not busy on a beautiful Fall weekday.

Pocono Manor’s range

Verdict: Quirky, fun, and very affordable, Pocono Manor is a historic hidden gem that features classic architecture and is well-worth the drive from New York and Philadelphia. I highly recommend this course and can’t wait to play again!

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