The Greenbrier: Golf Experience
There’s a lot to do at The Greenbrier but it’s golf that makes this destination truly remarkable. For more than 100 years, The Greenbrier has been synonymous with world class golf. There’s a rich history here… and if it’s not already… it should be on your bucket list!
By: Les Heintz
Most people under the age of 40 probably have no idea who Sam Snead was or for that matter what he accomplished in life. If you’re planning to go to The Greenbrier for your first visit any time soon, please Google his name first!
Sam Snead came to The Greenbrier in 1936 and his name has been associated with this resort ever since. He was hired as an Assistant Golf Pro at The Greenbrier. A short time later, he went on the PGA tour and never looked back! At the end of his career, Snead had 7 major championships to his credit and 82 PGA Tour wins. His PGA win total is tied for 1st place which a guy named Tiger Woods!
Sam Snead is part of the rich history of golf at The Greenbrier. The golf facility is filled photos and memorabilia of famous visitors like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Nick Faldo, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and so on.
Golf started here in 1910. The first 18-hole course opened in 1914. Today there are 5 courses on property. Three of them are “resort courses,” one is private and the 5th is a 9-hole par 3 walking course.
All 5 courses sustained significant damage after historic flooding in 2016. One of the “resort courses,” The Greenbrier, was reconfigured to a 9-hole routing. The others are in great shape.
Here’s a short overview of the courses:
The Old White Course
This is the course I wanted to play, but I made my tee times too late. It is the most expensive course on property but given its TPC history, this is where you want to be.
The Old White is the first 18-hole golf course built at The Greenbrier. It was designed by Charles Blair Macdonald and opened for play in 1914. A legend of golf history at The Greenbrier, the course was named for the well-known Old White Hotel, which stood on the grounds from 1858 through 1922.
The course includes several holes modeled after some of the most famous European holes, such as the Redan at North Berwick, the Alps at Prestwick and Eden at St. Andrew's.
From 2010-2019, The Old White TPC was been the home of The Greenbrier Classic, a PGA TOUR, FedEx Cup Event, and in 2011 it joined the prestigious Tournament Players Club Network. Following historic flooding in 2016, The Old White TPC underwent a major restoration, with all new fairways, bunkers and greens installed. It opened for The Greenbrier Classic July 3-9, 2017, and then opened to the public immediately following the tournament.
The Meadows Course
I played this course and it was wonderful. The pace of play was decent. The first four holes were relatively easy and forgiving, although my score didn’t necessarily reflect that. The back 9 was more challenging but I was golfing with a member and he offered good advice on placement.
I know everyone, including me, wants to play The Old White. But I recommend The Meadows as well. The course is beautiful, especially on a crisp Fall morning. It is a challenging course, but not enough to kick your backside.
I’m a 16 handicap and hit a 91. On the front 9, I score a poor 47. On the back, I hit a respectable 44. Here are the course details:
Lakeside/Meadows was originally opened in 1911, was redesigned by Seth Raynor in 1923, expanded to 18 holes by Dick Wilson in 1962 and then redesigned by Bob Cupp (and renamed) in 1999.
This is truly a picturesque course. It includes panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and is a true test of skill and precision. The course has hosted many regional and state competitions each year. A dramatically upgraded and improved Meadows Course held its official grand opening on September 6, 2017. Featuring an updated routing plan, newly reconstructed greens and stacked sod bunkers, the course has taken its place among the other championship designs at The Greenbrier.
The Greenbrier Course
The only resort course in the world to have hosted both The Ryder Cup and The Solheim Cup, The Greenbrier Course was originally constructed in 1924 by Seth Raynor, but Jack Nicklaus led a major redesign in 1977 to prepare the course for hosing the 1979 Ryder Cup. The course is heavily wooded and demands forced carries onto the greens. The well-bunkered and terraced greens require accurate iron play and talent with the putter. Following the floods of 2016, The Greenbrier Course reopened in 2018 as a nine-hole routing.
The Asford Short Course
The newest golf offering at The Greenbrier, The Ashford Short Course is a 9- hole walking course. The course is available to members of The Greenbrier Sporting Club, Greenbrier Golf and Tennis Club members and guests of The Greenbrier. The Ashford Short Course features designs from some of the most famous holes in golf. It provides the perfect opportunity for golfers to perfect their short games or create friendly competitions with friends when time for a full round isn't available.
The Snead Course
Exclusive to members of The Greenbrier Sporting Club, The 7,025-yard course was designed by Tom Fazio and opened in 2004 to much acclaim, including being voted No. 3 in the “Best New Private Golf Courses in America” by Golf Digest Magazine. Named after the legendary Sam Snead, who has a long history with The Greenbrier, the course was built on the former location of a landing strip adjacent to the other golf courses, which was part of the evacuation plan during the Cold War.
**Les Heintz an independent television producer and media consultant based in Washington, DC. He is Executive Producer of multiple television series including “The McLaughlin Group” on Public Broadcasting. He is Co-founder &Executive Editor of TravelAnne.com. Follow him on Twitter @LesHeintz57 or email Les at Les@TravelAnne.com