The Greenbrier Golf Resort

The union between The Greenbrier, the premier establishment retreat, and Sam Snead, the supreme backwoods hustler, seemed like golf's equivalent of Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett--a very odd match, albeit one that lasted more than 65 years until Snead's death in 2002. When you visit this resort in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia, the marriage makes sense.

Combining a welcoming hominess with a classy veneer, the stately getaway opened in 1778 and has hosted presidents, kings and Andy Bean. The golf spans the centuries, too--from hickory shafts to the Ryder Cup. Be sure to raise a glass to Sam as you make your own history.

The Golf

Greenbrier Course
6,675 yards, par 72; non-hotel guests: $350; guests: $185.

Jack Nicklaus redesigned this 1922 Seth Raynor layout prior to the 1979 Ryder Cup. At just 6,675 yards from the tips, length isn't the issue here. The keys are finding the fairways--which is no easy task on this tight, tree-lined design--and, more importantly, the proper side of the fairways, since sand and water keep a close watch over the greens. You can only attack the pins here from green-light angles. Three putts will be all-too-common if you don't find the right level on the multitiered greens. Slammin' Sam owns the course record: a tournament 59 in 1959.

Old White
6,683 yards, par 70; non-hotel guests: $350; guests: $185

The Greenbrier's first course, a 1915 Charles Blair Macdonald design with Seth Raynor updates, is the subject of an ongoing restoration set to conclude this winter (the course is open through mid-October) with the goal of bringing back some of the audacious bunkering and green complexes that have eroded over time. Now, as then, the fast, sloping greens and 12 varied par 4's on this track are the hallmarks. Unlike the Greenbrier course, death here comes not with a bang but by a thousand nicks and cuts.

Meadows
6,776 yards, par 71; non-hotel guests: $350; guests: $185

A diverse resort layout, thanks in part to its complex parentage, which contains elements of Raynor, Dick Wilson and, more recently, Bob Cupp (Tom Fazio also made uncredited tweaks to two holes). The one constant has been the panoramic views of the Allegheny Mountains, making this a favorite for golf-is-a-walk-in-the-park types. Though it sports a few forced water carries, including the 188-yard island-green second hole, the design features plenty of width off the tee and enough open greens to make it playable for golfers across the talent spectrum. That's for the best, since frustrated golfers wouldn't know which architect to blame.

For tee times at The Greenbrier's courses call 800-453-4858 or visit greenbrier.com.

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