The Appalachian Mountains are the background of West Virginia, a location that has made the state be nicknamed as the Mountain State. So, speaking about golf, this fact is a main characteristic in the majority of the courses we can find here.
However, there are some differences between them, and even some exceptions: there is one course in our list which counts with a classic links-style, for those looking for a more flat and open golf experience.
But let’s get down to business! Here is our top ten list of the best public courses in West Virginia:
Best Golf Courses in West Virginia
The huge Greenbrier Resort was born in 1913, and currently counts with three 18-hole championship courses, being the Old White the first one they opened in 1914. Originally designed by legendary architect Charles Blair Macdonald, the course was named after a renowned hotel that was on the same terrains from 1858 to 1922.
But this course, counting with more than 100 years old, would not have survived accordingly without some changes being made. To keep up to date, the course had to go through two renovations: the first one, only a decade after its opening, happened when the resort received some complaints from its guests due to the high difficulty of the course, to which Seth Raynor, a Macdonald associate, responded with some modifications that made the track a bit softer. The last one was more recent, finishing in 2006, and was carried out by golf architect Lester George, who installed a new drainage system and paths, together with a new plantation of fescue grass.
But let’s talk about the holes. This course counts with only two par 5s in the whole layout (the 12th and the 17th), so the par 4s are the strongest holes. One fine example of this is the opening hole, one of the toughest ones: a dogleg to the right featuring a creek over the elevated tee box.
Macdonald also had in mind some European classic courses when building Old White, and this fact is reflected on the course: holes 8th, 13th and 15th were inspired by the ‘Redan’ at North Berwick, the ‘Alps’ at Preswick and the ‘Eden’ at St. Andrews, respectively.
But our favorite is not any of those holes, but the 18th: an uphill par 3 playing across water to a contoured green in front of the clubhouse.
As for the rates, they are not cheap, ranging from $150 to $300. However, if money is not a problem, this course will leave you speechless!
Opened in the year 2002, the golf course at Stonewall Resort counted with the signature of Arnold Palmer Design, through the work of one of their best architects, Eric Larsen. The location of the resort helped, featuring the West Fork River and some great natural surroundings with wetlands and woodlands. This fact, combined with its fairness – it is playable for everybody but having some challenging holes – makes Stonewall a perfect place for playing golf in West Virginia.
The most memorable hole may be one of the easiest, the downhill par 3 6th. This short one-shotter plays a carry over the lake to a contoured green. However, if you look for challenge, check the tough 17th: a par 4 which features an approach shot over a marshland, and a fairway really well-protected by a huge tree on its left side.
Rates here are way cheaper than Old White, with green fees that oscillate from $65 to $95 for daily guests. However, if staying at the resort, prices are a bit cheaper.
The Glade Springs Resort opened in the early 70s with a first course, designed by George Cobb, and named after him, finally staying as the ‘Cobb’ course. However, thirty years later golf course architect Tom Clark was hired to design the second layout, ‘Stonehaven’, which opened in 2003. This second course was such a success, that the architect was called to create a third course in 2010, the ‘Woodhaven’.
The Stonehaven course is set on a hilly terrain, with great elevation changes, hardwood forests, rocks outcroppings and the presence of the stunning Chatham Lake throughout the whole course.
The 6th is its signature, an uphill par 3 which features some of its distinctive signs, such as the rock outcroppings and some hardwood forests. The scenic hole plays from the tee to a green protected by four huge bunkers.
The green fees here vary enormously depending on the month. At peak season (May to September), the rates can go up to $115, however, if playing from November to March, the fee goes down to $48.
Not far from its sister course Stonehaven, the original layout at Glade Springs does not disappoint. Designed by George Cobb, who in the 60s had been working with Bobby Jones on the renovations of the Augusta National, it finally opened in 1973. Finally in 2003, architect Tom Clark made some modifications when he was building the third course of the resort, the Woodhaven.
One of the main characteristics of this track are their large greens, considered as some of the largest in the whole country. Apart from this fact, 51 bunkers, huge elevation changes and 8 lakes complete the layout.
About the holes, the Cobb track has a great variety of them, fun and challenging. However, the most interesting side of the course comes with the beautiful three last holes. From these, the signature can be the 16th: a par 4 with three different carries over water.
But this resort offers more than just golf. A great range of accommodations, spa treatments, skiing, archery, biking, boating, hiking, laser tag, paintball or tennis are only some of the multiple activities available here.
There are two main courses in the Greenbrier – the top-ranked in our list, Old White; and Greenbrier. The latter, however, is currently going through some renovations by Phil Mickelson Design, as it suffered major flood damages in June 2016. It is expected to open again in 2019.
That’s why we go for the third course, called the Meadows. This layout is perfect for those who find Greenbrier and Old White courses too demanding, as it is gentler and more enjoyable for every player.
Starting as a 9-hole layout, the course was completed in 1962 by Dick Wilson. Although it suffered with the flooding too, the Meadows were reopened only one year later, in 2017, with a new design that features 6 holes from the Greenbrier course, still going through renovations. Apart from these changes, some legendary architects left their trail in this course throughout the years: in 1962, Dick Wilson; in 1999, Bob Cupp; and in 2004, Tom Fazio; the three of them made some modifications that made the track what it is today.
The signature hole at Meadows is undoubtedly the par 5 4th, rated as the most challenging of the whole round, and featuring a guarding creek which calls for great accuracy from the player.
With a terrific location that comes with the mountains of the Pocahontas county as background, the Raven opened first in 1993 known as the Hawthorne Valley. With the design of Jeff Myers, from Gary Player’s company, the course is known for featuring some hilly rollercoasting hills including cliffs, rocks, creeks and hardwoods.
The two nines are distinctive: while the front nine counts with woods, creeks and lakes; the back nine offers more dramatic elevation changes, with ravines and cliffs coming into play.
Best holes form the front nine are the 3rd and 4th, both playing downhill with great elevation changes. However, wait for the back nine for the real challenges! The 11th and the 13th are some of the most difficult holes in the whole course and will test your abilities to the fullest.
Having this great golf experience will not be as expensive as you may think. Rates at the Raven for 18 holes vary from $50 to $90, and also offer some interesting golf packages for those thinking about staying at the resort.
Located in Davis, in the Monongahela National Forest, this course counts with a natural beauty surrounding including the majestic Allegheny Mountains as backdrop. It opened for play in 1968 and was designed by Canadian architect Geoff Cornish, which built a track with open and generous fairways, set on a hilly terrain with great elevation changes that make it fun and with a wide variety of holes.
The par 3s are long here, and they are designed on elevations that enhance their challenge. One great example of this is the 12th hole, with 256 yards from the back tee. As for the par 4s, they are varied, being the best of them the closing 18th hole, which include a long water hazard to beat before finishing the round. Finally, the par 5s can be gentle, as the 3rd ; to quite dramatic, as the 17th and its crazily well-protected green.
As for the rates in Cannan Valley, they are quite affordable, with green fees no more expensive than $66 in peak season.
Let’s call Twisted Gun a hidden gem. Gem, because it’s a great links course set on a stunning location in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. And hidden, because it is completely remote, set on an old coal mine, and you will have to look carefully for the tiny roads that will lead you there. However, this difficulty in finding it has some perks: the course will not be as crowded as any other you will find in West Virginia.
Opened in 2002, it was designed by David Nicewonder, from Houston Texas, which built a links style course, not usual in this state: a flat, treeless, undulated terrain that takes advantage of the prevailing winds.
Apart from the course, the facility counts with a practice range, short game area and putting green, the 19th hole Bar and Pizzeria and the possibility of organizing events and weddings at their clubhouse.
And the best part: the ridiculous green fees, with a maximum price of $35 for those under 55 and playing during weekdays.
Robert trent Jones Sr designed the course at the Cacapon Resort, located at the foothills of the Cacapon Mountains at 700 metres above the sea level.
With more than 70 bunkers, 3 ponds and numerous creeks, this hilly course take advantage of the great elevation to create a wonderful golfing experience. The course is also known for a tricky double green which is more than 100 yards wide!
A great clubhouse completes the golfing facility, including a well-stocked pro shop, a bar and restaurant, locker rooms for players and rental carts.
The Speidel Golf club is part of the Oglebay Golf resort & Conference Center, counting with two championship courses: one designed by Arnold Palmer; and other designed by Robert Trent Jones. The Jones designed course opened in 1969, however, 30 years later, in the year 2000, it arrived the Palmer, a shorter course with the signature design of Arnold Palmer, which has more character and challenges than the Jones one.
The course offers a parkland style terrain, with large greens and well-placed bunkers that make every golfer enjoy a fun and challenging round.
Apart from these, the resort also offers the original 18-hole course, called ‘Crispin’ and designed by Robert Biery. However, if you have the chance, we recommend playing one of the two top courses here: Palmer or Jones.
As for the green fees, the Palmer course is the most expensive one, with rates that may go up to approximately $70.
These ten courses are our best options that any golfer should play in The Mountain State. As we have seen, there are options for everybody: from more expensive and exigent tracks, such as the Old White, to cheaper and links style ones like Twisted Gun.
Make sure of checking the availability of all of them and make your choice!