Friday, August 19, 2016

Oglebay Resort - Hidden Golf Gem in the West Virginia Mountains

No. 3 at Speidel Golf Club's Palmer Course
Nestled in the mountains of West Virginia, just outside of Wheeling, is a hidden gem for golfers - Oglebay Resort. Boasting two championship courses, a family-friendly 18-hole layout, a par-3 track and a lighted driving range, there is something to fit every playing level.

Speidel Golf Club is home to the “big boy” courses - designed by legendary figures Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Arnold Palmer. It’s amazing how different two courses can be on the same piece of land.

Construction of the Jones Course, which stretches to 7,000 yards but can be played at a friendlier 5,350 yards from the forward tees, was dictated by the land. The equipment used today was not available in 1970. By contrast, tons of earth was moved to allow for generous landing areas and expansive greens complexes on the Palmer Course. 

No. 11 on the Jones Course is challenging
We often read about “signature holes.” While I understand some courses are remembered for one hole (the island green, No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass comes to mind), I hesitate to use that term, personally. In lieu of that, allow me to point out Nos. 8 and 11 on the Jones Course.

No. 8 is a 517-yard par 5 with the driving range on the right, which serves as OB. By avoiding that potential trouble and bailing out to the left, you’re now dealing with uneven lies all the way to the green, which is protected by a steep drop-off and bunker on the right. Par is an good score on this hole. No. 11 is a long par-3 (214 yards) with a narrow green. Miss to the left and you have a tough pitch. Miss to the right and pray you find the bunker. If not, your ball will likely kick further right and be lost in the native vegetation.

As for Mr. Palmer’s contribution ... six par 3s, six par 4s and six par 5s are a unique change of pace. Risk-reward holes are plentiful. For instance, the par-5 second hole is only 500 yards from the tips. Play to the left and you only have a mid-to-long iron for your second shot. However, that second is all carry over heavy rough and deep bunkers. There are landing spots to the left and right if you’re not up to the challenge. The par-4 10th hole is only 334 yards if you play along the fairway, but daring golfers will take a 3-wood or driver over the trees for a chance at eagle. Fall short and you’re bringing bogey, double bogey or worse into play.

No. 4 on the Palmer Course offers expansive views
One last thing, somewhat off topic, before leaving the Speidel Golf Club. The food on the clubhouse menu sets it apart from other courses. Sure, you can enjoy a traditional hot dog or hamburger, but why, when you can choose from one of several wraps or sandwiches - including a fried bologna, egg and cheese treat known as the Brandini, inspired by a trip to a Pittsburgh Pirates game at PNC Park. Come for the golf - Stay for the food.

Not up for the stern tests of golf? Try the 18-hole Crispin Course, which is open year-round and ideal for families or less-accomplished players. At only 5,670 yards, this par-71 track is long enough for good players to enjoy, while being very manageable for shorter hitters. 

Interested in something other than golf? There’s the tennis center, which features 10 Har-Tru (clay) courts, swimming laps in the outdoor pool or relaxing in the indoor, heated pool, located in the Wilson Lodge. 

Speaking of relaxing ... Visit the West Spa (Wilson Lodge) for a massage, manicure, pedicure, Yoga and more. 

Kids and adults, alike, will love horseback riding or the Good Zoo - the only zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in West Virginia. With more than 50 species, 20 that are rare or endangered, the Good Zoo features the Outback Exhibit and Lorikeet Landing, as well as African wild dogs, meerkats, spectacled bears, lemurs, red pandas, river otters and the Wonders of the Wetlands area, where visitors can observe a bald eagle and various other plants and animals that call these fragile areas home. There’s also the red barn, which is filled with friendly, domestic animals such as llamas, goats and donkeys.

For many resorts, the myriad activities at Schenk Lake would be enough entertainment. From pedal boats and kayak rentals to fishing, mini golf, walking/jogging trails, it’s a playground for all ages. Two museums, shopping, dining and the Bissonette Gardens are just a few more options at Oglebay Resort.

Day passes are available for all these activities, but you’re going to want to spread all the fun over several days. Stay in the Wilson Lodge, a variety of cottages or one of the two estate homes (six bedrooms and six-and-a-half baths).

Want to visit Oglebay, but can’t get out of work. I’ve got a perfect idea - schedule your next conference or team-building session at the resort. It boasts more than 20,000 square feet of versatile meeting space.

Though the resort has been around for more than one hundred years and you’re surrounded by history at every turn, the accommodations at Oglebay are modern and first class. 

In the coming months, plan a trip to Oglebay to enjoy the vibrant colors of Autumn or “Oglebayfest” - a resort-wide festival the first week of October that features music, dancing, ethnic foods, crafts, fireworks and a parade. Last, but certainly not least, is the Winter Festival of Lights - the country’s largest light show. People drive from great distances to take in the 1 million+ lights spread out over a six-mile driving tour.

An easy drive from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, Oglebay is a must-visit destination for both golfers and non-golfers. Learn more and plan your trip at

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