Between them, they have 180 PGA Tour wins, 40 major championships, hundreds of course designs to their names, and now one big collaborative project like nothing golf has seen before.
Golf legends Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Gary Player broke ground Friday on a new golf course partnership as part of the Greenbrier Sporting Club. Together, the four men dug shovels into the West Virginia soil to unveil a 8,042-yard 18-hole course that overlooks Oakhurst Links.
In an article for The Register-Herald, Greenbrier owner Jim Justice referred to working with the four legends as history in the making.
“We’re doing it, and they’re not doing it for the greatest financial gains in the world,” said Justice. “I’m surely not. We’re doing it for the game.” Justice hopes that one day, the history of the area will help the course host the U.S. Open; Oakhurst Links, opened in 1884, was the first organized golf course in America.
The course will open in the fall of 2016. The resort-like neighborhood will also feature a clubhouse and pro shop, dining facilities and many outdoor activities, such as fishing, hiking, skiing and biking.
So how do you get arguably the four greatest golfers of the old era, who spent most of their professional careers in steep competition with each other, on the same side of a project?
Justice said he knew it wouldn’t be easy.
“I knew I was going to twist their arm, break their leg or sit on them, but some way I was going to have [them] here,” Justice said. “I knew right then this was our ticket to make the Sporting Club the greatest Sporting Club on the whole planet.”
The men also have prior history with Greenbrier; Palmer’s first PGA Tour win came at Greenbrier in 1954, Nicklaus redesigned the Greenbrier Course in 1977, Player maintains fond memories of playing with golf pro emeritus Sam Snead there, and Trevino was just hired this summer as the club’s third pro emeritus. They knew enough to set their old careers and current design competitions aside for this project.
“Our games lasted a period of 20 years, or whatever it was, but this golf course is going to leave a legacy for not only our lifetime but many people’s lifetimes,” Nicklaus said in an interview. “We’re all too old to argue with each other. We’re at the point in our lives that it’s much more fun to do things together and come up with a product that we can all be proud of.”
Added Palmer: “This is the most unusual site I’ve been asked to help design a golf course on. To say that it will be unusual is an understatement. You will see a golf course that will be amazing. We’re going to work to make this one of the most beautiful sites in the world.”
You can watch the four legends do an interview with the Golf Channel’s Gary Williams here.