The Greenbrier Classic History and Past Winners
The Greenbrier Classic will be played for the first time July 29 - August 1, 2010 at the Old White Course at The Greenbrier in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia. It replaces Flint, Michigan’s Buick Open, which had been a tour stop since 1958.
The Greenbrier is one of America’s oldest resort properties. As far back as 1778, the area’s hot sulfur springs attracted travelers seeking health benefits. Indeed, for the first 125 years of its existence, the resort spot was known simply as White Sulfur Springs. A hotel was built in 1858, which stood until 1922.
The property was purchased and expanded by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway starting in 1910. It was at that time that the resort became known as The Greenbrier, while the nearby town was White Sulfur Springs. The Greenbrier became a premier destination, attracting twenty six Presidents, foreign dignitaries such as the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Ghandi, Prince Ranier and Princess Grace as well as innumerable stars such as the always-ready-for-golf Bing Crosby.
In 1913, three years after purchasing the property, the C & O Railroad built the first golf course, the Old White Course. The Old White Course was designed by Charles Blair Macdonald and features several holes modeled after well‑known Scottish holes. Over the years, Sam Snead, the resort’s golf professional emeritus, as well as Arnold Palmer, Jimmy Demaret, Dwight Eisenhower, the Prince of Wales, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and the Rev. Billy Graham have enjoyed golf at The Greenbrier. Jack Nicklaus redesigned the Greenbrier Course in 1977 for the 1979 International Ryder Cup Matches. The third championship course on the property is the Meadows Course, redesigned in 1998 by noted golf architect Robert Cupp. In 1999, the Sam Snead Golf Academy opened offering half‑day and multi‑day classes for golfers of all abilities.
Curiously, The Greenbrier also was the site of a secret underground bunker complex that the US government built to house the Congress in case of national emergency (it figures that Congress would relocate itself to a luxury resort while the rest of us suffer). Now decommissioned and declassified, the bunker apparently houses data facilities and can be toured. The Washington Post article which exposed the secret bunker can be read here.
PGA Tour legend Sam Snead held the position as the resort’s emeritus pro for many years until his death. Tom Watson now holds that title. The resort also hosted the Ryder Cup in 1979 and the Solheim Cup in 1994. Muirfield Village is the only other location to have hosted both the Ryder and Solheim Cups.
In 2009, the resort filed for bankruptcy, and apparently was slated to be bought by the Marriott Corporation. But that purchase was contested by James Justice, whose family holdings included mines, milling and farms in West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. In the end, the legal argument was settled in favor of the Justice family and they are the current owners of the property. Casino gambling was introduced at the Greenbrier in 2010.
Scott Stallings won the inaugural event.
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