Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands took a giant step forward as a golf destination today with the grand opening of Shepherd’s Rock. Designed by Pete Dye and Tim Liddy, the new course complements—and perhaps upstages—Dye’s Mystic Rock layout, arguably the state’s top public-access course since its opening in 1995.
“Shepherd’s Rock is special because it’s the culmination of ideas Dye has brought to golf course architecture over the past five decades, such as the sharp edges, the angled fairways, and the Scottish-style bunkers and greens,” says Liddy.
And the surprises—aggressive mounding and bunkers that mask, then reveal, infinity greens with nothing but mountains, lakes or sky behind them. “Dye doesn’t like a background to greens,” Liddy explains. “He wants the view to infinity. It distorts the depth perception and can make a hole look more difficult than it is. It also showcases the incredible setting, with 50-mile views of the mountains.”
Shepherd’s Rock, a mix of treed and links-style holes, is shorter than Mystic Rock by 375 yards, but it is mined with 149 bunkers compared to Mystic’s 65. “There are many bunkers, but they’re positioned to indicate the best route and give you choices. It’s a fun course with a variety of holes that will keep you intrigued,” says Mike Jones, Shepherd Rock’s director of golf.
Picturesque stone walls and rail fences ramble through borders of tall grass, and Icelandic sheep graze in pastures near several fairways.
As with everything at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, the creative touch of resort owner Maggie Hardy Magerko, daughter of 84 Lumber founder Joe Hardy, is apparent. The comfort stations are elegant, air-conditioned timber-and-stone structures. Scattered throughout the course are small, whimsical brass sculptures of the resident sheep, usually with birds perched on them—a nod, perhaps, to the resort’s Fatbird logo. The course name honors her father, the shepherd of the Hardy family.