Archive for the ‘Golf’ Category
Wheeling Park’s 88-year old golf course, Wheeling’s first public golf course, was recently dedicated as the Bloch Memorial Golf Course. Stuart F. Bloch, Wheeling businessman/philanthropist, has established a generous endowment gift to provide annual improvements for the golf course at Wheeling Park.
The Bloch family has been involved with golf in Wheeling for many generations. Bloch’s great-great-grandfather, Samual S. Bloch, a co-founder of Bloch Brothers Tobacco, was also a founder of the Wheeling Highlands Course that became Wheeling Country Club. He learned the game from his grandfather, Jesse, and father, Tom. Tom Bloch also served as a charter trustee of the E.W. Oglebay Memorial Fund. This fund started with a gift from Sarita Oglebay Russel and it continues to support activities at Oglebay.
Bloch’s love for the game led him from caddying at local links to the presidency of both the West Virginia Golf Association and the United States Golf Association (USGA). He also learned to appreciate the benefits of this life-time sport. “A golf course like the one at Wheeling Park can suit a person all of his or her life,” Bloch said. “It’s both a good course on which to learn and a fine place to continue playing as a senior citizen.”
“Stuart Bloch’s endowment gift will assure the Wheeling Park course will be well preserved for future generations,” said Randy Worls, chairman of The Oglebay Foundation. “Stuart Bloch is a visionary, as shown by his civic volunteerism in many areas, and he appreciates those factors that make our community very livable for residents in all stages of their lives.”
Doug Dalby, CEO of the Wheeling Park Commission, reinforced that endowment gifts such as Bloch’s will assure the continued operation of the historic course and allow user rates to remain as low as possible. “Just as his family enjoyed participating in park activities, Stuart’s wish is that all residents can access golf at well-maintained facilities at a reasonable cost,” added Dalby.
The Bloch Memorial Golf Course remains as popular as the year it was built. The course was designed by the late Robert E. “Bob” Biery, the first employee hired by the Wheeling Park Commission (WPC). Park officials did not anticipate a rush to the links, but more than 6,000 rounds were played on the course between its opening on July 1, 1925 and October, when the park closed for the season.
Oglebay has added new forward tees, or green tees, to the Jones and Palmer Courses at the Speidel Golf Club. Rico Coville, Director of Golf for the Wheeling Park Commission, said the new green tees are placed in a friendly, shorter yardage area to allow families and others to have an enjoyable golfing experience on our two championship courses.
“The forward tees level the playing field and give golfers the opportunity to play from distances that are properly aligned with their abilities,” said Coville. “Playing from forward tees should result in fewer overall shots, shorter distance traveled on each hole, and potentially, fewer lost balls.”
The new forward tees at Oglebay are part of a national initiative proposed by the PGA of America and the United States Golf Association called “TEE IT FORWARD.” Jack Nicklaus, who shares the record with Walter Hagen for most PGA Championship titles with five and also shares the U.S. Open record with four victories, is a proponent of TEE IT FORWARD.
“I love the game of golf but I will be the first to tell you that there are things about our game we need to improve,” Nicklaus said. “Now The PGA of America and the USGA have come together to develop ways to that can make the game more attractive and more enjoyable. Tee It Forward is the first of many initiatives we have discussed together, and I think families around the country will enjoy alternate formats like this to make the game more fun.”
Coville said the new forward tees are especially good for younger golfers and beginners but work for any golfer without a long drive. “With these new tees the beginner can play a competitive match with the most seasoned expert,” said Coville “The Jones and Palmer Courses are now a good choice for beginners and more experienced golfers, or youngsters and their parents or grandparents, to play together.”
From the new forward tees, yardage for the Jones course is approximately 3,700 yards and the Palmer course is approximately 3,400 yards. Coville said the new forward tees are part of the ongoing improvements and updates taking place at the golf courses including cart path paving and bunker renovations on the Jones Course.
For more information or tee times contact the Speidel Golf Club at Oglebay at 304-243-4050.
Bring your daughter, best friend, mother… any woman interested in being introduced to the game of golf to a free clinic at Oglebay on Friday, July 27. This clinic is being hosted by Assistant Director of Golf and LPGA Professional Karen Waialae.
Waialae said that golf is a game where the beginner can play a competitive match with the most seasoned expert. “It is a game where youngsters can delight in playing with each other and it is a game suited to the young and old playing together,” says Waialae. “Oglebay, with four different golf courses providing play for all skill levels, is the perfect place for young girls and their mothers, or even grandmothers, to play together.”
The USGA-LPGA Girls Golf Day Clinic will be held at the at Par III Driving Range beginning at 9:00 a.m. Call 304-243-4050 to sign up.
The spectacular Speidel Golf Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. opened in the early 1970s after five years of planning and construction. It was the first public course undertaken by the prestigious golf course architect and he was enthusiastic about the challenge. On one of his visits to Oglebay, Jones described the proposed layout as “a fair test of golf, with no tricks, but an easy bogey, hard par course.”
Ron Kirby was a young apprentice for Jones when the Speidel Course was being built and now Kirby has returned to Oglebay to direct the restoration of the sand bunkers. Kirby said that Jones studied the natural topography and was challenged by the hills on the course location. “This was Mr. Jones’ first attempt at such a hilly site,” said Kirby. “Jones’ design included bunkers that directed play and gave the course a very distinct character.”
Over the years many of the original bunkers have been lost or altered due to wear and weather, and according to Kirby, mechanical raking. “My goal is to make the bunkers easier and less costly to maintain while restoring the character that Jones had envisioned.”
Nick Janovich, Superintendent of the Jones Course at Oglebay, said the new bunkers will be smaller and deeper, and filled with better quality sand. “We plan to match the sand to what is used at the newer Palmer Course at Oglebay,” said Janovich. “This sand not only looks good but it also drains better.”
Kirby served as an apprentice with Jones for seven years and then spent the next 15 years on his own. In 1986 Kirby joined the Jack Nicklaus Golf Design company, overseeing the European projects. He has designed more than 35 courses in the United States, the Caribbean, Japan, and Europe.
Although the front nine opened in 1970 and the back nine in late ’71, there would be several more years of development and landscaping at the course. Jones said that the rolling terrain offers “natural gallery amphitheaters unsurpassed anywhere” and those natural amphitheaters provided thrills for spectators for the LPGA West Virginia Classic for 11 years.
One of the reasons that Earl Oglebay chose this lush hilltop land for his summer estate was its natural beauty. We are committed to preserving and sustaining this natural beauty through sound environment practices and green initiatives ( www.oglebay-resort.com/green_flyer.pdf ) and the golf courses are at the forefront of this commitment.
According to the United States Golf Association (USGA) more than 70 percent of most golf courses are rough and non-play areas including natural grasses, trees and shrubs. Combined with the open areas of fairways and greens, the golf course is an attractive wildlife habitat. The USGA and the Audubon Society have developed the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses ( www.usga.org/Content.aspx?id=26126 ) and one aspect of this program is the enhancement of wildlife habitat on and around golf courses. From bluebirds to wild turkey to deer, an amazing number of species call the Oglebay golf courses their home and now honeybees can be added to the list.
“We have partnered with The Tri-State Beekeepers Association ( www.tristatebeekeepers.com ) to be a host site for some honeybee hives,” said Ricky Border, Superintendent for the Palmer Golf Course at Oglebay. “The hives are located on the Arnold Palmer Golf Course and they will be used educationally by the Beekeepers association. This indicator species will demonstrate how golf courses are genuinely stewards of the environment. Honeybees are very important pollinators for nearly every plant species that we use for food, shelter, and aesthetic beauty. ”
The mowed turf areas of the golf course also provide benefits to the environment including protecting topsoil from water and wind erosion. Our nation’s topsoil is not a renewable resource. Wind and water may erode the topsoil into rivers, lakes and oceans and once gone, it cannot be replaced in our lifetimes. Turf controls erosion by capturing and slowing fast-flowing water from storms. Rain is an important source of clean groundwater, which supplies much of our drinking water, and golf course turf absorbs and filters runoff water during and after storms. The turf growth process also takes carbon dioxide from the air and releases the oxygen we need.
Nick Janovich, Superintendent of the Jones Course at Oglebay, says that both he and Ricky have been working towards certification by the National Audubon Society and expect to achieve certification within the year.
UPDATE: Check out the video of the bee hives at Oglebay at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgY9GvySgXE
There are fifty-four spectacular holes of golf to welcome you to Oglebay and a tradition of excellence that goes back more than sixty years. Crispin’s front nine was the first recreation facility built at the Oglebay and the most recent is the intriguing Arnold Palmer designed Klieves Course at the Speidel Golf Club. Add a sporty par-3 and driving range, and you’ll understand why Oglebay is the perfect golf destination.
Until public links came to Wheeling, first at Wheeling Park, then at Oglebay, all courses were private. Despite hard economic times, interest in play at the two park courses grew quickly. It paralleled the phenomenal growth of public golf on the national scene in the 1920s and 30s, coinciding with and largely due to the immense popularity of the immortal Bobby Jones.
Crispin’s front nine was dedicated July 4, 1930. It was the first and last facility built at Oglebay before the Great Depression. In 1938, after the influx of federal funds, the second nine of the rolling Crispin course, and a golf shop, were opened.
The Crispin course has seen many special moments. Professional golfer Betsy Rawls drew the largest crowd to date when she presented a clinic and exhibition in 1952. Arnold Palmer, playing Crispin for the first time in 1963, equaled the course record of 9-under-par during an exhibition match.
Oglebay’s Caddy Camp was a unique part of the golf scene for seven decades. Although caddies were used as early as 1930, the actual camp was constructed in 1939 on the site of the former Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) barracks in the woods near the main picnic area. Up to forty-four young men attended camp each year, learning golf skills and techniques while spending the summer in a wholesome environment. Demand for caddies fell off when golf cars became popular. When Caddy Camp closed in the late 1990s, it was one of only two such programs left in the country. It has been replaced with a “Golf Jobs for Juniors” initiative.
On the other hand, Oglebay’s junior golf program has grown steadily since it began in the early 1990s, assisted by and used as a focal point by the United States Golf Association. More than 350 youngsters participate in the program each year. Scholarships are available to those who might not otherwise be able to afford to participate, as they are for all youth sports programs at the parks.
The spectacular Speidel Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., opened in the early 1970s after five years of planning and construction. It was the first public course undertaken by the prestigious golf course architect, and he was enthusiastic about the challenge. On one of his visits to Oglebay, Jones described the proposed layout as “a fair test of golf, with no tricks, but an easy bogey, hard par course.”
Although the front nine opened in 1970 and the back nine in late ’71, there would be several more years of development and landscaping at the beautiful “monster course” on the hill. The rolling terrain offers “natural gallery amphitheaters unsurpassed anywhere,” Jones said. Amid excitement and anticipation, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) paid a visit to Speidel in 1974 for the first Wheeling Classic. The tournament, later called the West Virginia Classic, drew a top field and thrilled spectators for eleven years.
The beauty and intriguing design of the par-71 Arnold Palmer designed Klieves Golf Course at Speidel Golf Club completes Oglebay’s golfing picture. “Because of the unique topography, it’s one of the most interesting golf courses we’ve ever designed,” comments an official of the Palmer Design Company. Five holes are located adjacent to the Speidel Course, and thirteen holes are on the east side of the two-lane road that winds through the resort. Designed with multiple tees, the course plays from 4,500 to almost 6,800 yards. The Harry C. Hamm Clubhouse, complete with an award-winning pro shop and grill room, serves both courses at the Speidel Golf Club.