Greenbrier’s ‘Old White’ Celebrates a Centennial

Golf milestone for storied resort’s most famous course.

Greenbrier-logoI’m not a golfer, but I am an admirer of historic hotels that maintain the classic heritage while keeping up with the times. In that spirit, I congratulate The Greenbrier on the 100th anniversary of its most legendary golf course. An unnamed guest of The Greenbrier will step to the tee of the “Old White” course and launch a golf shot marking the end of the first century of continuous play and the beginning of the second. The centenary of “Old White” will be formally marked on Saturday April 19, when The Greenbrier’s owner and chairman, Jim Justice III, will strike a ceremonial ball from the tee using a 1914 driver.

The Greenbrier's  famous golf course is called Old White, but that could be the name of the historic, luxurious hotel itself.
The Greenbrier’s famous golf course is called Old White, but that could be the name of the historic, luxurious hotel itself.

In 2011, with The Greenbrier’s admission to the PGA Tour’s TPC Network, “Old White” joined the exclusive group of 32 of the most prestigious golf courses in the nation and is now formally known as “The Old White TPC.”  The Greenbrier Classic, played The Old White, is the oldest course on the PGA Tout to continually host an annual tournament. In the world of golf, this is a very big deal. So is the list of those who have golfed there, which reads like a who’s who of golf, celebrity, society and political power: Ben Hogan, The Duke of Windsor, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Joe DiMaggio, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tiger Woods and U.S. Presidents including Woodrow Wilson, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Perhaps more than any other individual, however, it was legendary golfer Sam Snead who put The Greenbrier on the map as one of the world’s foremost golf destinations. During his years at The Greenbrier, Snead shot “60” six times on the Old White course and climaxed his career with a historic final hole-in-one on Hole 18 in 1995.

The Greenbrier was established modestly in 1778 near a natural hot spring and has been in continuous operations ever since. Dolly Madison was one of the early guests. During the Civil War, it served as a hospital. Today, it has 700 rooms, all manner of public spaces and amenities — and has won just about every hospitality award.. In addition to the huge hotel, the resort 10,ooo acres include five golf courses, a championship indoor and outdoor tennis facility (including five outdoor clay courts and five indoor courts), what they like to call “a mélange of sporting activities,” swimming pools, a spa, a casino, a state-of-art medical facility, shops and fine dining, of course. The Greenbrier is so huge that it reportedly can been seen from outer space.

The Greenbrier is offering its Century of Golf play-and-stay package ($175 to $300 per person per night based on double occupancy and requiring a two-night minimum). Not a budget vacation, to be sure, but a very special one at a luxurious and historic property for avid and well-heeled golfers. The Greenbrier, 300 W. Main Street, White Sulphur Springs, WV 24986; 855-453-4858.