Courses & TravelJuly 23, 2009

Good For The Greenbrier

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Boy, how things have changed. After a triple decker cake of good news, the Greenbrier's big frown has been turned upside down. In May the Greenbrier was bought bailed out by Jim Justice, the West Virgina coal operator. Justice paid off debts and made peace with the bitter employees. And then last week the Greenbrier's pro emeritus and famous face of the resort, Tom Watson, wins the British Open. (I know he lost in a playoff, but technically no one had a lower score than he did). And then today Jerry West, one of the most respected names of the NBA, signed on to be a "partner."

And so I say, good for the Greenbrier. The more I come across sub par service, mediocre courses and bad business models, I'm sure the game of golf needs a correction phase. Private courses are going to resort courses, resort courses are going public and public courses are closing. The trickle down is tough, but I think it's necessary. And the laws of natural selection stimulate strength over the course of time. Which is where golf will get to eventually--a game more affordable and thus, more accessible. As it should be.

But the Greenbrier is not a place that should go away. It's too cool, with too much history and too much good golf. The last time I was there was with Tom Watson. I asked him why he liked the Greenbrier and he said he appreciated the fact that it was a splash of formality in an otherwise informal society. I suspect Justice and West will lighten things up a little bit. But hopefully they don't change too much. I love the place. If you're in the area you have to tour the famous bunker, do the off-road driving school, go bowling, feed a falcon or play Old White (built by C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor in 1914 and was redone by Lester George in 2006). That being said, I wouldn't be upset if the floral design theme in the main hotel jumped the train company, CSX, that was the old owners.

Maybe now that the Greenbrier is getting healthy, they will offer their sympathetic friends in Detroit a special discount.

--Matty G.

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