WHITE SULPHER SPRINGS, W.Va. — One of the oldest golf courses in the world, the Oakhurst, will have a brand new, world-class design next fall thanks to four of golf’s greatest living minds.
Greenbrier Resort owner Jim Justice purchased the Oakhurst, first built in 1884, three years ago. He recruited four legends: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, and Gary Player to design the course.
“I think it’s the opportunity to develop a pretty darn nice golf course and certainly some fantastic scenery,” Nicklaus said.
They broke ground on the new course Friday morning.
“The four of us have played probably more golf courses than any other four players in history,” Player said. “I would say more. And we’ve won probably close to over 400 golf tournaments. And we’ve been in the arena to know what are good golf holes and what are bad holes.”
Nicklaus, who’s company has designed hundreds of different courses, wants to take full advantage of the scenic locale provided by that area of Greenbrier County.
“Anytime you’re trying to do a property, you’re trying to figure out how you can do as much, what I call, pleasant golf–scenery-going golf,” Nicklaus said.
Player, who has also been involved in the design of hundreds of courses, said Justice’s budget for the course will go a long way towards completing the vision.
“This course here is a very different thing,” Player said. “You’ve got a man who can give a very health budget towards building a golf course, and he wants to have one of the best courses in the world. And this will happen here.”
Justice’s eventual goal with the renovated Oakhurst is to bring another major event–perhaps the Ryder Cup, U.S. Open, or President’s Cup–to Greenbrier County.
Player agreed–saying this could be one of the world’s great courses when it’s done thanks to the considerable experience brought to the table by Palmer, Nicklaus, Trevino, and himself.
“It’s got an opportunity to be the best golf course ever,” he said. “A lot of golf architects that are designing golf courses today, that have top names, they can not play golf at all. And they make so many obvious mistakes that I see that the average man in the public is not aware of.”
The course is primarily focused on downhill shots, which Nicklaus said will create a more enjoyable game.
“I don’t like uphill shots,” he said. “I don’t think many golfers do. I think golf is just a more pleasant game played downhill.”
“I think we’ve only got five shots that we’ve presently got in the design that are back uphill,” Nicklaus said. “It’s pretty good on this hilly of a property.”
The course should be completed in Fall 2016.