Alex Findlay added a basic 9-hole golf course to the wide range of sporting activities at the famous Greenbrier spa and hotel a century ago and this initial layout has developed over the years into a fantastic 54-hole golf complex that has hosted both the Ryder Cup in 1979 and the Solheim Cup in 1994.
The two main 18-hole courses on the property are the Greenbrier and Old White but for golfers who find this pair a little too arduous, the Meadows course is just the job as it’s a less demanding course, perfect for the vacation golfer.
Uniquely, the Meadows course (formerly known as the Lakeside) actually came about as a means of spreading and disguising the spoil from construction of The Greenbrier Hotel’s Cold War Bunker which housed the then secret underground Congressional command shelter.
In 1963, Dick Wilson incorporated some of the Seth Raynor holes from The Greenbrier (now holes 8-10) into what was then called the Lakeside, a par 70 course measuring 6,336 yards. In 1999, Bob Cupp updated the layout, adding over 450 yards to the overall length as he formed the par 71 Meadows course.
Tom Fazio subsequently replaced two holes created by Cupp in 2004 due to new flood control issues when he was constructing the Snead course at the Greenbrier Sporting Club. However after sustaining significant flood damage in 2016, the Meadows course closed for restoration, managed by director of grounds Kelly Shumate and Vice President of Golf Operations Burt Baine. The Meadows reopened in 2017 with a new design and routing, using six holes from the Greenbrier course.
The six former Greenbrier holes (#9 through #14) are now holes #10 through #15 on the Meadows course and the only hole that was significantly modified was the driveable par 4 #14 (Sahara), which is now a tough 220-yard uphill par three. The new par 70 Meadows course measures 6,602 yards from the tips, but five sets of tees make this layout manageable for all levels of golfer providing Greebrier's trademark revetted bunkers are avoided.
The par five 4th hole is the longest of the three par fives on the card and is rated the toughest hole on the Meadows course. It demands accuracy, with Howard’s Creek guarding the left side and out of bounds on the right. The home hole is the second hardest on the scorecard, which requires a forced carry approach over Swan Lake to a well bunkered green.
The Meadows is the shortest of The Greenbrier course. The first hole is welcoming, actually the first three holes are excellent birdie opptie.. A benign water carry, favor right of center to take the left fairway bunker out of play. There is a bunker front left. The 2nd is a straightaway par four with fairway bunkers left and right and the creek left. Decent drive will leave you with an attack iron. The 3rd is the tied for the shortest hole. There is a large front center bunker and the green slopes right to left. The first par five is the longest, but at 529 yards pretty benign, albeit very tight. The creek is left and OB right. Three average shots and you will be putting for birdie, not sure why or how it obtained number one handicap hole status. The 5th is a long par three with two front bunkers. The sixth is a long par four that leans left. The approach is uphill to one of the smallest greens on the course. The 7th is straightaway and downhill. Decent drive will result in a short approach to a green that has bunkers front right and left. The 8th is a reachable uphill par five. The only real trouble is a fairway bunker on the right side. The tree-lined ninth is a long tight par four. The approach is to a well-protected green, a false front and two bunkers.
The back starts with a long downhill par three. The green is protected with a front bunker and two right. The 11th is the shortest par four on the course. The approach is over the creek, consider laying up off the tee. The 12th is tied for the shortest hole. However, the green is nestled right up against the creek. Short is death. The 13th is slightly uphill but still reachable by the big boys. Favor the right the entire way as there is a fairway bunker left and greenside bunkers left. The 14th is a hill par four that bends left. Favor the right off the tee to avoid the fairway bunker left on this split fairway. The approach is downhill and the green is right behind the creek. How does a 235 yard uphill par 3 sound? The only good news is there are no bunkers on this hole. The 16th is a long downhill dogleg left. There is a deep fairway bunker on the outside elbow and a creek runs in front of and left of the green. The 17th is another long par four and this one leans right. Trees left, OB right with a large right greenside bunker. The 18th is an attention grabbing finishing hole. It is long and the approach is all carry over the water hazard. Par here is a good score and a super way to end the round.
If you have not been to The Greenbrier, I heartily recommend it. Be prepared for your senses to be overwhelmed by your hotel room. Be prepared to spend lots of money. Bring your own wine opener. There is one in each room in a cellophane packet and if you open it, you buy it. This infuriated my wife. She spent 30 minutes opening a bottle with a fingernail cutter. (while I was golfing) Also, make sure you go on The Bunker tour, The Greenbrier has a special relocation center for the US Congress that was designed and built during the Cold War. Lastly, hopefully The Oakhurst Links will be open when you visit. It is the oldest golf course in the US. It is only nine holes and you play with hickory shafts. Unfortunately, it suffered significant damage in the 2016 flood.