Greenbrier Sporting Club's 'The Snead' -- Views of a Living Tribute

Text and Captions By Jeffrey A. Rendall; Photos By Kevin Gaydosh and Jeffrey A. Rendall


WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV – ‘What’s in a name?’  Shakespeare’s Juliet asked it rhetorically, and we can only answer (four hundred years later), ‘a lot.’


When you name something important after a person, it’s a big deal – no arguments.  Some will like it, some won’t.  Just ask the folks around Washington how they felt about naming National Airport after President Reagan.  A lot of people loved it, and some… didn’t.


Regardless of how you feel in the political sense, the powers behind The Greenbrier Sporting Club decided to call its new Tom Fazio designed golf course ‘The Snead’ after this mountainous region’s highest regarded celebrity, the very deserving Sam Snead.  Fazio liked the idea.  Heck, even I thought it was tremendous.


But what about his family?


Who better to ask than Snead’s namesake, Sam Snead Jr., or as he’s more commonly known, ‘Jack’ Snead.


“I had absolutely no problem with them naming the new Greenbrier Sporting Club course after Dad,” Snead said.  “Everything seems to honor him around here – like the road running through White Sulphur Springs (Rt. 60) is called ‘Sam Snead Boulevard.’  And they’re getting ready to name our highway (Rt. 220, running through Snead’s home in Hot Springs, VA) the ‘Sam Snead Memorial Highway.’”


It doesn’t end there.  At both The Homestead and The Greenbrier, there’re many tributes to the elder Snead, just about everywhere you look.  And why not?  He’s only the world’s all-time most prolific golf champion, leading the PGA Tour in lifetime wins (81, with 135 wins worldwide) – a record that not even Tiger Woods has a realistic shot at breaking.


But how would Snead, who passed away two years ago, feel about the golf course?


Again, Snead Jr. provides the answer:  “He might have a few reservations about the slopes around the greens, because he was more of a traditional, classic-type player.  But on the whole, I think he would’ve been very pleased.  The greens replicate Pinehurst #2 quite a bit, and Dad always said that old Donald Ross course was his favorite.”


“It’s difficult around the green complexes, but after you’ve played it a few times, it gets you sharper around the putting surfaces.  Then, when you play another course, you tend to do a lot better, because you’re forced to really think and hit a particular area on the green with your approach or chip shot.  There’s a place for all these types of courses,” Snead added.


Snead Jr. likes the course, too, and after playing it, I’ll add my commendations.  Despite being set on a pretty flat piece of ground (for about 2/3 of the course, it formerly was an old airport), it hardly lacks in drama – or beauty.  Here’s a sampling of what we saw, and thanks to the camera lens, we’ll bring our impressions to you:

The Snead's 1st tee. Right off the bat, you'll appreciate the course's natural gifts. Don't go left, but there's still plenty of room to hit your tee ball.

Looking from the tee of the par five 6th hole. It's across the highway from the 'flat' portion of the course, which provides yet another distinct look for the layout.

The par three 15th is called 'Postage Stamp' after the very famous 8th hole at Royal Troon. It's short, just like its namesake, but just as difficult.

The Snead's practice range is exapansive. If you take advantage of the facilities, there's not much excuse for failing to execute on the course. You could actually get good just by practicing here.

The par four 13th. It's flat, yes, but well defined by Fazio's bunkering. You'll never wonder what to do on this course, which is the trademark of a Fazio design.

Stop and read the plaque prior to heading for the first tee -- then you'll understand why the course is named as it is.

Looking back from the 6th hole's green. One of the better scoring chances on the course, take advantage of it.

Probably the best 150-yard markers you'll see anywhere.

There're 450 yards between the back tees and green on the closing hole at The Snead. But who can deny, it's quite a view.

Here's a view from behind the 13th green. If you're long, you're chipping back up towards a sloped putting surface. Snead Jr. was right -- The Snead features quite a short game challenge.


The Snead at the Greenbrier Sporting Club

One Sporting Club Drive

White Sulphur Springs, WV 24986


Phone:  (304) 647-6440; FAX: (304) 647-6111




See below for full reviews of 'The Snead' and other offerings at The Greenbrier.


Course Designer:  Tom Fazio

Head Golf Professional:  Robbie Gilmore Jr.



Membership inquiries should go to Janet Jarrell, Membership Director.  (304) 647-6405.

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