After spending untold millions on renovations and repairs following last year's tragic flood that canceled the PGA Tour's Greenbrier Classic, golf at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.V., is being reincarnated in a big way. Not just by reopening the classic Old White TPC Course in time for the PGA Tour's Greenbrier Classic (July 6-9), but two more courses at the 239-year-old resort are coming back after significant facelifts.
The first course to open will be the Meadows Course, perhaps the stepchild of the resort's golf offerings. But with the new design and six holes stolen from the old Greenbrier Course, it promises to garner a lot of attention this summer. Re-created by director of grounds Kelly Shumate and Vice President of Golf Operations Burt Baine, it opens in just a couple of weeks.
The aforementioned Greenbrier Course was originally designed by Seth Raynor in 1924 and redone by Jack Nicklaus in 1978. It will be completely redesigned by PGA Tour player Phil Mickleson. Construction on the new Mickelson design will begin later this year.
"We are expanding into some adjacent property for the room needed to build new eight holes," Baine said. "Phil has described his concept as a championship course which can host both regular guest play as well as world-class events in the future."
Meadows will be special in own right
As for the Meadows Course, Baine and Shumate tried many routings, but concluded that taking six holes from the Greenbrier Course made the most sense since the decision to redo that course has already been made. The six holes that were imported, however, were changed with new greens and bunkers, and one of the holes was converted from a short par 4 to a long par 3. The new Meadows Course is 6,602-yard par 70 and features beautiful stacked sod bunkers now. There are five sets of tees with the forward tees (green) being rated for men and women.
"It's not the forgotten course anymore," said Cam Huffman, director of sports public relations for The Greenbrier.
TPC Old White, a century-plus old CB McDonald and Seth Raynor design, was essentially wiped out last summer by a 500-year flood that not only destroyed the golf course, but had a devastating impact on the community. With the rebuild, The Greenbrier took this opportunity to improve on Old White. It hired renowned architect Keith Foster to oversee a restoration in which 1920s photographs were painstakingly used to bring the course to its past glory.
One of the most notable changes is the green on the par-3 18th. Before, there was a large swale. Now, it's more of a thumbprint design, which makes the putts much more interesting and provides more locations for pins.
Old White could be reopened today, but The Greenbrier and Tour officials want it to be perfect for the tournament, so they are waiting.
"It's a huge investment, not only money-wise but in time and effort," Huffman said. "It's also very important to our local economy, given that The Greenbrier employs some 2,000 people."