Golfing at Oglebay: A Tradition of Excellence and Spectacular Courses

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.

Face-to-face Communication: What happened to it?

As leaders, how many of us would rather use email, text, or a phone call to share important information with key people?  It is quick, easy, and avoids uncomfortable situations; however, too many leaders hide behind electronic messages and then wonder why results are dismal.  Sharing critical information “face to face” takes preparation, skill and intestinal fortitude.  Many leaders know it leaves them vulnerable to tough questions and/or comments.  Anyone can deliver the good news, but when it’s not what someone wants to hear, that’s when it gets difficult.  Not all messages are received in a positive way, plus you have to deal with frustration and resistance on the spot.  You have the choice to be an effective or a run-of-the-mill leader.

The question to ask is, “How important to the business is the topic and resulting action?”  When you can’t afford a critical message being misinterpreted, try your best to do it in person.  Nonverbal actions by the message receiver are nonexistent when electronic messages are used.   “Face-to-face” will allow you to see if the other person truly understands your message or if there is resistance to it.

An important way to confirm understanding of your message is to have the other person recap including the action needed.   By the receiver putting it in his or her own words, you have the opportunity to make sure your message was clear or to clarify any misinterpretations. 

A mental model for sharing important messages is: Who needs to know + what they need to know + who is best to tell them + how will it be delivered + deadline to do it + deadline for action.

Ask yourself what’s in it for you to use “face-to-face” communication and what’s in it for the receiver to hear it directly from you.  If it’s important that you deliver it in person, then it should be passed down the line the same way.  A virtual workforce can present a challenge; however there are electronic methods one can use.  Skype is an example of one of these methods.

The next time you have something important that needs to be shared, try going back to the basics of “face-to-face” communication if you want to make sure the message is received, understood, and acted upon.

Meeting the Needs of Today’s Traveler

Oglebay Resort and Conference Center in Wheeling is one of West Virginia’s top tourist attractions and the resort continues to expand and grow to meet the needs of today’s traveler. During the past decade Oglebay has invested millions of dollars into the expansion and renovation of facilities on its 1,700 acres to remain one of the state’s foremost resorts.

In 2006, construction was completed on a new, $15 million, 53-room sleeping wing at Oglebay’s Wilson Lodge. This new wing added five suites, 24 king rooms and 24 double queen rooms. Just two years later, another 12,000 square foot, four million dollar addition was completed at the lodge. This latest addition houses the West Spa on the first level, six premium guest rooms on the second level and an outdoor patio on the top level. The new additions to Wilson Lodge have the same exterior architectural style as the existing lodge, but the interior of the new lodge rooms are larger than the existing rooms and both the guest rooms and the spa feature updated furnishings. Demand for these contemporary rooms and spa services continues to be strong, and the new additions to the lodge are being enjoyed by individual and family vacationers, as well as meeting and conference groups.

The renovation and remodeling of the existing 212 rooms at the Wilson Lodge was completed in 2007. This renovation project also included technology upgrades to lodge operations and meeting rooms, and modifications to the lodge to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. Renovation of the lobby of the lodge was completed in April of this year.

Cottages are also highly-sought accommodations at Oglebay. Currently, there are 54 cottages at the resort, with two, four, six, or eight bedrooms. The Susan Wheeler Estate House is the newest addition to the cottage inventory at Oglebay. Completed last September, this 4,600 square foot facility is located in a private area overlooking the Speidel Golf Club at Oglebay. The comparable Palmer Estate House, completed in 2006, is located nearby.

Able to accommodate up to 30 people, three eight bedroom premium cottages were added just below Wilson Lodge in 2007. The estate houses and premium cottages have been especially popular with large families, golf groups and executive retreats.

This decade of growth at Oglebay began with the opening of the Arnold Palmer designed golf course in 2000. The newest course at Oglebay was designed to accommodate golfers on all skill levels and complements the existing championship course designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones, Sr. These two courses, designed by premier golf architects, form the Speidel Golf Club at Oglebay. The number of guests booking golf packages that include overnight accommodations and the opportunity to play both championship courses has increased annually since the Palmer Course opening.

The Winter Festival of Lights, a holiday light show presented at Oglebay in November and December, continues to be as popular as when it started in 1985. The show has grown into one of the nation’s largest light shows, covering more than three hundred acres over a six-mile drive throughout the resort. The Winter Festival of Lights has been featured on the Travel Channel’s “Most Extreme Christmas Celebrations” and listed in the American Bus Association’s Top 100 International Events. In 2009, the show was named one of the top 10 best holiday light and tree shows by, a leading hotel Internet search engine. Each year new light displays are added and existing displays are moved or redesigned to keep the show fresh. Since 2008 all new displays at the show have been created with LED lights and the existing displays are being converted to LED. LED bulbs are much more environmentally friendly than traditional light bulbs as they use 85% less energy and last five times longer. The Festival of Lights has become a holiday tradition for many families and the popularity of the show makes Wilson Lodge as busy in December as it is in July.

Oglebay – today – is a beautifully landscaped resort but its history of generous hospitality began more than one hundred years ago when it was the summer estate of Cleveland industrialist, and Ohio Valley native, Earl W. Oglebay. Mr. Oglebay’s summer home is now a museum and the gardens that surrounded the home in the early 1900s have been restored and are enjoyed annually by hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Oglebay is looking forward to the next decade and is proud to be one of the major contributors to the burgeoning tourist industry in wild and wonderful West Virginia.