There’s a great story behind Oglebay Resort. It began over a century ago as the estate of Earl Oglebay, an industrialist from Cleveland who would come to the cooler climes of Wheeling, W.Va., for the summer.
When Oglebay died, he bequeathed his entire estate to the city of Wheeling to be used as a public park. By 1928 it was deeded over to a commission, which continues to operate it to this day. It is the nation’s only municipal resort.
Over the years the resort has improved and continued to grow. Today it is a fine resort and convention center, with two 18-hole championship golf courses making up the Speidel Golf Club.
The Robert Trent Jones course was opened in 1970, while the Arnold Palmer design was opened in 2000. Combined with the older, shorter Crispin Course and a par-three course, Oglebay has everything you need.
The Georgia Golfer recently had a chance to play the Palmer Course. It was a cold, windy morning in Wheeling that day, but the course was in good shape and proved to be quite enjoyable. The Georgia Golfer must admit that he enjoys Arnold Palmer golf courses; Eagle Watch and Cherokee Run in suburban Atlanta are two favorites. The Palmer Course at Oglebay is a course you could enjoy playing over and over again.
The Palmer Course plays to par 71. It includes six par 3s and five par 5s and plays 6,800 from the back tees. Be careful on which tees you choose to play; you’ll likely find yourself playing into the wind on some of those daunting par 4s.
The first hole starts with an elevated tee shot and plays down to a generous landing area to a very deep green. It’s a good starting hole and gets its No. 1-handicap notation because of its length (444 from the middle tees).
Most of the course is built on the other side of a big hill — or a small mountain. Once your cart comes down the hill (you may see a few deer in the woods) the valley opens up into a golfer’s delight. On this side of the course Palmer has been able to set the holes in a way to avoid the constant up and down that you hate in many mountain courses.
From there all the holes were enjoyable. At No. 4 you have to clear the fairway bunkers to have a reasonable shot at the green. No. 5 is a par 3 that’s longer than it looks. No. 6 is a short par 5 that’s appealing visually but dangerous near the green with a bunker and water on opposing sides. No. 7 is a dogleg left and No. 8 is a par-5 that doglegs to the right.
The signature hole is No. 13, an elevated par 3 that requires a high shot to a wide, narrow green. There’s a lake in the front and three gaping bunkers in the back. Arnold does allow for a little bailout area on the right side. Great hole. The back tees are a ridiculous 196 yards. The medium tees are still an ambitious 160. Regardless, it’s a fun hole — visually striking and very playable.
You cross back over the hill to play the final two holes, which both offer birdie opportunities. No. 17 is a shortish par 3 and No. 18 is a drivable par 4 that plays just 332 from the back tees. If you don’t want to tempt fate on the final hole, you had hit the middle of the fairway and find yourself with a wedge to a very tricky green.
Didn’t’ have a chance to play the Jones Course. It’s 7,001 yards from the back and plays to par 72. This course is hillier and more penal than the Palmer Course. The Jones course hosted an LPGA event for 11 years.
Oglebay is a nice destination. The people are friendly, the food is fantastic, the accommodations are very nice (there’s even a gas fireplace in the premium rooms) and there’s plenty to do. It would be a good place to stop for a couple of days if you’re headed up the northern corridor.
You could pair a trip to Oglebay with a trip to Glade Springs in the southern part of the state and play Stonehaven, Woodhaven and/or the Cobb Course and have a West Virginia vacation.