Monster Golf Club Signals Rebirth of Catskills

Aerial view of the Rees Jones-designed Monster Golf Club at Resorts World Catskills. (Image: Resorts World Catskills)

Aerial view of Monster Golf Club, a 7,650-yard Rees Jones design at Resorts World Catskills in the New York State village of Monticello. (Image: World Resorts Catskills)

The opening of Monster Golf Club, a Rees Jones design at Resorts World Catskills, is helping fuel the renaissance of the famous Borscht Belt, where top comedians once brought the laughs to vacationers between rounds of golf.

“A rabbi, a priest and Arnold Palmer are standing on the first tee….”

With the recent relaunch of Monster Golf Club in comedy’s famed Borscht Belt, it’s time to dig out your best golf jokes and one-liners. The Rees Jones design is the showpiece of Resorts World Catskills, a sprawling US$1.2-billion retreat in the village of Monticello featuring two hotels, a casino, a spa, TopGolf simulators, and a variety of dining options.

The resort’s ballyhooed opening in 2018—followed by the unveiling of Monster Golf Club in September 2023—has helped fuel the renaissance of the Catskills region of New York State, about two hours northwest of Manhattan. Rustic lodges, boutique hotels, and stylish boutiques and restaurants are opening throughout Ulster, Greene, Sullivan and Delaware counties, a lake-filled tourist region bordered by Pennsylvania’s Pocono mountain range in the west and the Hudson River in the east.

In its heyday from the 1920s to 1960s, the Catskills featured more than 500 resorts that catered largely to New York City’s Jewish community. Singers, swing bands and comedians including Henny Youngman, Lenny Bruce, Jerry Seinfeld and Joan Rivers headlined at famous Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel (closed in 1986) and the Concord Resort Hotel (closed in 1998). Seinfeld’s return as the star attraction at the grand opening of Resorts World Catskills was seen as a symbol of the region’s rebirth. Abundantly gifted by Mother Nature and so near to New York City, the Catskills is certain to grow even more popular.

During Monster Golf Club’s US$40-million five-year build-out, Jones utilized holes and corridors from the original Monster layout (designed by Joe Finger in 1963) and the Old International Course to create the all-new 18-hole layout. Starting with Kiamesha Creek, which meanders through the opening fairways, water hazards come into play on seven of the 18 holes. Similar to the original Monster course, the new Jones design tips out at 7,650 yards from the ‘Monster Tees’ and plays to a par of 72, challenging low-handicappers with its length and large undulating greens. Wisely, Jones built six sets of tees at the Troon Golf-operated course, making it playable for everyone.

Still, the aptly named Monster Golf Club is no golfer’s idea of a joke.