New Forward Tees Added to the Jones and Palmer Courses

New Green Tees

Seth Hand, 9, tries out one of the new green tees at the Palmer Golf Course at Oglebay while Phil Todd, Speidel Golf Club Manager, looks on. New green tees have been added to the Jones and Palmer Courses at the Speidel Golf Club at Oglebay to make the two championship courses at Oglebay more enjoyable for golfers of all skill levels.

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.

Bunker Restoration Project at Oglebay’s Jones Course

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 reviews plans for restoring the bunkers on the Jone Course.

Nick Janovich, left, Superintendent of the Jones Course at Oglebay, and Ron Kirby, Golf Course Architect, review plans for restoring the bunkers on the course. Kirby was an apprentice for Robert Trent Jones, Sr., when the course was designed more than 40 years ago and has returned to Oglebay to help restore the bunkers.

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.