The mountains can have a profound effect on your game— one you may not have expected.
“The beauty of a mountain course will take precedent over how well you’re playing,” said Brad Ullman, director of the West Virginia Golf Association. “The
scenery makes it easy just to relax and enjoy the game.”
Of course, these curvy courses can also be rough on a player who’s used to flat fairways. But that’s part of the reason people flock to the Mountain State to play in the first place.
West Virginia’s wild, wonderful scenery is blanketed with picturesque places to refine your mountain game, and they’re some of the most affordable you’ll find for the quality.
If you’re up for it, start with these 7 scenic courses. (Their wild backdrops may just help you keep your zen if those first few hilly holes surprise you.)
Wharncliffe | 72 par, 7,015 yards, 124 slope, 73.1 rating
wisted Gun is a hidden gem— a very well-hidden gem. A true backcountry beauty, it’s nestled back along the far reaches of old, winding coal roads.
The course itself is perched on a reclaimed mine site, so you can see for miles. At one tee box, you can peer out over a panorama of 3 different states. But even though it’s punctuated by rolling hilltops, the industrial history of the land left room for wide-open, forgiving fairways.
Daniels | 72 par, 7,122 yards, 149 slope, 75.1 rating
Woodhaven’s beauty is captivating, but you have to work for it. With a fierce 75.1 rating and a slope of 149, it’s the highest-rated public course in the state. The narrow valley fairways are long and lined by steep, tight ridges capped by dense forest.
The thick trees, wildflowers, gaping gorge and rock gardens are beautiful, but if you’re not careful, they’ll be a siren’s call for your swing. And besides the natural hazards, plush, extra-quick greens add a punch to the short game.
It may take you a few rounds to figure out this puzzle of a course, but you can carefully refine your strategy surrounded by the scenic rhododendrons or blazing fall palette.
Snowshoe | 72 par, 7,045 yards, 142 slope, 75.5 rating
The Raven is routinely named West Virginia’s top public course, with plenty of national notoriety. Because it’s built into the steep sides of a mountain that towers way above the state’s usual hills, folks call it the state’s truest mountain course. Gazing out over its sweeping valley vistas, you might have to agree.
The design integrates into the natural lay of the land, with picturesque ravines, outcroppings, streams and plenty of wildlife. The natural hazards can be both friend and foe; the mountainside is rough, but it may just also catch your ball for you if you slice.
If you’re really not used to high-altitude play or cascading ground, a GPS may help take some of the mystery out of the distances, which can be obscured by the tiered drops.
White Sulphur Springs | 72 par, 6,675 yards, 135 slope, 73.1 rating
This iconic resort’s rich golf history is enough to earn it a place it on your bucket list: it’s the home of the first-ever American golf course, and a lineup of celebrities and legends have graced its grounds. But the namesake Greenbrier is the quintessential mountain course, both beautiful and formidable.
edesigned by game great Jack Nicklaus in 1977, it keeps you on your toes. You’ll need hard drives to carry over the forests, and exceptional accuracy to avoid the heavy bunkers along the way. Even on the green, you’re not in the clear.
Roanoke | 72 par, 7,149 yards, 142 slope, 74.6 rating
Looping around the cerulean waters of Stonewall Lake, this course is nature’s own original design, creatively reinforced by legend Arnold Palmer’s careful eye. The result feels infinitely massive, even with a relatively small spread. 6 tee boxes let you choose your challenge, but no matter where you start, you’ll steer clear of the deep bunkers if you play with your wits rather than your strength.
You’ll probably be most aware of the ground’s natural slope on the greens. At first glance, they appear flat, but a closer look as you line up a putt may uncover some subtle but serious ridges.
Wheeling | 71 par, 6,725 yards, 135 slope, 71.9 rating
Arnold Palmer designed a signature course at Oglebay Resort, with a similar nod to Mother Nature’s original design— and the result is just as stunning.
The pristine fairways invite you way out in the wilderness for most of the course, so enjoy the secluded mountain views. It rolls peacefully the whole way through, so be on your game. There are some dramatic elevation changes in store. The greens may be smooth, but they can get wavier than a potato chip.
Beaver | 72 par, 6,834 yards, 132 slope, 72.0 rating
For the lightest introduction to rolling terrain with the most memorable setting, start at Grandview. It’s got all the loveliness you expect from the mountains, without the difficulty.
In a park that’s famed for its panoramas, you can savor some of the state’s most show-stopping views with a relaxed round. The fairways are softly swirling but not overly sloped, and the path to the holes is fairly wide-open.
For more scenic courses in the Mountain State, look to the state parks, where you’ll find plenty of top-ranked play in our most prized outdoor escapes. Discover your mountain game.
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