By Len Ziehm

Playing golf in the mountains isn’t our norm, but when the opportunity arose we jumped at it – and we’re glad we did. The International Network of Golf Spring Forum was held in Valley Forge, Pa., and the mountainous area known as The Poconos was barely an hour away.  As soon as the forum was over we were on our way to the Poconos.

A good mix of golf is available on the Lehigh Valley Poconos Golf Trail and we experienced three very different types of courses with rounds at Jack Frost National, in Blakeslee; Woodloch Springs, in Hawley; and Shawnee, in Shawnee on the Delaware.

We had roughly two-hour drives between Valley Forge and Jack Frost National; another two hours from Jack Frost to Woodloch Springs; and still another two hours from Woodloch to Shawnee. These were all over winding, rolling roads through small towns. They provided pleasant glimpses into the quaint, charming communities but the roads weren’t designed for speed.  You had to take your time and enjoy the scenery.

Jack Frost National was the most interesting of the three courses, Woodloch the most challenging and Shawnee the most historical.  We’ll save Shawnee for last, just because it has the most interesting story to tell.

JACK FROST NATIONAL: This layout, measuring 7,256 yards from the tips and spread over 200 acres, is championship caliber but few big events have been played there.

“It’s hard to schedule them because we’re a busy place,’’ said Director of Instruction Ryan Kearn.  “We do 218 rounds a day.’’

Most striking about the course are the changes in elevation, most evident between the par-5 ninth hole which plays uphill, and the par-3 eleventh, which is all downhill. No. 14 is the designated signature hole.

The area has a ski hill in operation during winter months, but Kearn says there’s no overlap between the sports. The golf and ski facilities have different owners.

“In each of the last three years, closing day (for skiers) came the day before our opening day,’’ said Kearn. “Our course is interesting, fun, wide open with big greens and fairways and only one water hole.’’ More