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.