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Golfing in Southern West Virginia

By Ben Crookshanks, Contributing Writer

Golf in West Virginia has come a long way since its beginning at Oakhurst Links in White Sulphur Springs in 1884. Today, there are well over 100 golf courses in the state, 20 of them here in southern West Virginia. There are half a dozen courses only minutes from area whitewater rafting outfitters.

West Virginia's golf courses are set in some of the most spectacular scenery in the United States. We aren't called the "Mountain State" for nothing. Even though you are standing on a golf course, wherever you look, in any direction, you see mountains. It's even more impressive in the fall when the seasons are changing. The vivid colors of West Virginia's fall foliage can match and, in most years, surpass anything that can be found in New England.

While it is not exactly in southern West Virginia (in fact, it is almost in the center of the state), the latest offering is well worth mentioning. Arnold Palmer was on hand June 1, 2002, for the opening of the Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course at Stonewall Jackson State Park in Lewis County. This is a 7,149-yard championship course with a United States Golf Association course rating of 74.6 and a slope rating of 142. For information about this brand-new course, call (888) 278-8150 or visit www.stonewallresort.com.

The Brier Patch at Beckley is the Saddlebred Golf Course reincarnated. It is a 7,017-yard, 18-hole course with lots of character. The 18th hole has been dubbed "The Beast". "The Beast" is a 642-yard, par 5 hole. Once you finally make it to the green, you find it is surrounded by a water hazard-the only island green in the state. If you would like to play the Brier Patch and do battle with "The Beast", call (304) 253-4653. Good luck; you'll need it.

The Cobb Course at Glade Springs Resort in Daniels is rated as one of the best in West Virginia. Golf Digest magazine awarded it a 4-star rating. In addition to the 6,841 yard, 18-hole course, there is a Learning Center featuring a sand trap, short yardage targets, a nine-hole putting green and a ten-acre driving range. The par-72 course has 49 sand traps, 8 lakes and has a 200-foot elevation change from green number 2 to green number 13. (Remember, this is West Virginia!) Glade Springs' toll free number is (800) 634-5233. Their website is www.gladesprings.com.

Although at 5,978 yards, the 18-hole course at Twin Falls Resort State Park in Mullens is not particularly long, it can be challenging. There are water hazards on 15 of the 18 holes and several sand traps guarding every hole. The green on the eighth hole is two-thirds surrounded by water. Golfers soon realize the layout of the fairway requires a high level of accuracy to stay out of trouble. Twin Falls Resort's phone number is (304) 294-4000 and their website is www.twinfallsresort.com

Pipestem Resort State Park has two golf courses. One is an 18-hole, 6,884-yard course perched on the edge of Bluestone River Canyon. The other is a seasonal, 9-hole course open April through October. To reach Pipestem, call (304) 466-1800. Their website is www.wvparks.com.

The Pocahontas Country Club in Marlinton is a 9-hole, 6,107 yard (for 18 holes). There are no sand traps. The big challenge is the blind shots that are necessary to reach several of the greens. Accurate approach shots are needed for a good score. Their phone number is (304) 799-7466. You can learn more by visiting www.pocahontascounty.com.

Golf has been part of The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs since 1910. The Greenbrier has three 18-hole championship courses and is the only resort in the world to host both the Ryder Cup Matches and the Solheim Cup Matches.

The old White Course, created by Charles Blair MacDonald, opened in 1913. There is a distinct flavor of Scotland present in this course. MacDonald laid the course out with features he had seen on the finest courses in Scotland.

The Greenbrier Course, site of several PGA tournaments, was built in 1924 and redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 1977.

The Meadows Course lies in a truly beautiful setting. Over to the east is Kate's Mountain and Greenbrier Mountain is to the west. The Meadows was originally called Lakeside and sometimes it was referred to as "The Little Nine". It dates back to 1910. Lakeside was expanded to 18 holes in 1962. Recently it was remodeled and christened "The Meadows". The late Sam Snead was on hand to cut the ribbon when the course opened in the summer of 1999.

Sam Snead, The Grand Master of Golf, who came to The Greenbrier in 1935 as a golf-pro, will now be a part of the resort forever. The Sam Snead Golf Academy opened the same summer as The Meadows. This is a state-of-the-art facility, where golfers of all levels can come and polish their game. The Greenbrier's phone number is (800) 624-6070. Their website is www.greenbrier.com

Other area golf courses: (all 304 area code)
Beaver Creek Golf Course-Beaver--763-9116
Black Knight Country Club-Beckley-253-2661
Bluefield Country Club-Bluefield-327-6511
Bridge Haven Golf Course-Fayetteville-574-2110
Clear Fork Valley Golf Assoc.--Oceana-682-6209
Grandview Country Club-Beaver-763-2520
Greenbrier Hills Golf Course-Rainelle-438-9050
Hawks Nest Country Club-Gauley Bridge-632-1361
Lewisburg Elks Country Club-Lewisburg-645-3660
Nicholas Memorial Golf Course-Summersville-872-9850
Princeton Elks Club-Princeton-425-3273
Valley View Country Club-White Sulphur Springs-536-1600
White Oak Country Club-Oak Hill-465-5639
Willow Wood Elks-Hinton-466-3220