A Monster Golf Course Returns to the Catskills

Monster Golf Club Hole 14 at Resorts World Catskills. Photo courtesy of Resorts World Catskills

A legendary, long-dormant Catskills course comes back to life with a new design, clubhouse, food options, and more.

The Monster, at one time a stalwart member of the greatest golf course lists, has been completely redesigned and resurrected as a feature attraction at the Resorts World Catskills casino in Monticello.  The new course still lives up to its frightening name, but the redo makes it much more fun to play as you watch the Monster devour your pars.

Today’s Monster Golf Club features holes from both the original Joe Finger design as well as the old International Course next door. Noted architect Rees Jones combined the best of the two while bringing the entire property up to the standards of today’s play. A new clubhouse, enhanced food and beverage service, and the nearby casino hotel make a visit to the Monster a fully enjoyable golf experience. The golf operation is managed by Troon Golf, which also manages Westchester Hills, Harrison Meadows, and Mansion Ridge, among other courses in the area. Resorts World Catskills is part of the Genting Group, which operates destination resorts around the world.

golf course
Monster Golf Club Hole 14 at Resorts World Catskills. Photo courtesy of Resorts World Catskills

The Monster was always known for the prodigious length and brutal water hazards that made it a must-play destination for golfers from the day it opened in 1963. “We played all the Catskill courses, but the Monster reigned supreme,” says Monster head golf professional Kyle Belle, who grew up in Kingston and worked at clubs throughout the Hudson Valley.

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Today’s Monster tips out at 7,327 yards and has a seemingly endless supply of water hazards, but it also has five other sets of tees that make it enjoyable for golfers of every level. It’s worth noting that both the par threes and par fives are of manageable length. Fairways are generous, but not ridiculously so, and designed so they narrow in the landing areas for stronger players to add to the challenge. Miss the fairway and you’ll land in rough that’s kept at manageable depth for the sake of pace of play. There are large fescue areas as well, but they generally lie far enough from the fairway to not be a factor.

Fairway bunkering is situated to challenge the stronger player (mostly), and forced carries are kept to a minimum for the high-handicapper. Water comes into play on seven holes. Golfers familiar with the old course will recognize many of the hazards, especially on the par-five 12th hole, where the water makes it look longer than the 491 yards it actually plays from the regular tees.

The Monster really comes alive around the greens, which are immense and very complex. Only one of the greens is less than 30 yards deep, with the green on the 18th a whopping 46 yards from front to back. Rees Jones made all that space exciting to putt on by burying several elephants and excavating a canyon or two. The greens, like the fairways and rough, have brand-new turf, so they run fast and true.

This is the “preview season” for the Monster. It’s open and completely ready for play, but the official opening will be held next spring. Right now, greens fees start at $145 for hotel guests and $225 for non-guests. There’s an expansive range, short game area, and practice green as well as a full complement of PGA pros if you’re interested in a lesson or two.

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The Monster Golf Club at Resorts World Catskills is an easy 90-minute drive up I-87 to NY 17 (exit 106) from Westchester. It’s well-worth the trip.

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