Morgantown hugs the Pennsylvania border along the picturesque Monongahela River. Farther southeast, toward the Allegheny Mountains, Cheat River draws outdoor enthusiasts with its springtime whitewater rafting. Those interested in a more peaceful communion with nature can hike along Caperton Trail, which passes a vintage train depot and heads into historical downtown Morgantown.Home of West Virginia University, downtown Morgantown blends the dynamism of a university town with rustic, small-town charm. Along Main Street, antique shops, art galleries, and boutiques now occupy late 19th-century Victorian buildings. Decadent chocolates take center stage on April 14 for Chocolate Lovers' Day, when the downtown area teems with dessert samples and the Monongahela is drained and filled with liquefied chocolate.
Lieutenant General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson once stood on the first hole's green—or at least somewhere near it—and gave a rousing speech to motivate 17,000 Confederate troops before the First Battle of Winchester on May 25, 1862. Today, Jackson's Chase Golf Club hosts more peaceful pastures atop its rolling hills, with golf clubs replacing weapons and golf balls replacing the instant smoke-cloud spheres that Jackson would use during his renowned magic shows.
Set along the undulating countryside, the 18-hole course challenges golfers of all stripes to navigate a labyrinth of unforgiving holes, such as the 191-yard 11th hole, a par 3 with a pond stationed around the peninsula-like green. Rental carts whisk players up and down frequent elevation changes, saving caddies from giving piggyback rides across the 6,513-yard jaunt.
Course at a Glance
Framed by the rising crags of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club’s 18-hole course incorporates mature hardwoods, immaculate greens, and dramatic elevation changes into a pristine layout that earned a position on Golfweek’s list of the Best Courses You Can Play in 2009. Cresting hilltops give way to sweeping panoramas of the natural surroundings, including a 60-foot waterfall stationed behind the 18th green that used to host Gary Player's famed cliff-diving exhibitions. A grass-tee driving range, large putting green, and short-game practice area unfurl across the mountainside terrain, helping players warm up neglected swings. Additionally, players can prepare for an upcoming round with a lesson from Blue Ridge’s staff of sage instructors or by scrutinizing the course’s splendor from the wraparound terrace of the stately clubhouse.
Course at a Glance:
Although conservation is important to the course managers at Cherry Creek Golf Club, it never comes at the expense of challenging play. Throughout the scenic 18-hole course, golfers will come face-to-grass with meticulously planned layouts that incorporate ponds, bunkers, and vistas bordered by gentle rolling hills. The first two holes epitomize the club’s course design; hole one's curving terrain and four sand bunkers require precise aim to avoid, and hole two's flowing stream adds an extra level of difficulty to an already nerve-testing approach. Course managers also take care to protect the natural setting and wildlife that inhabit the grounds, taking eco-friendly measures such as building blue bird nesting houses and improving water quality by reducing the use of harmful chemicals. Their efforts have earned the course Audubon International's Cooperative Sanctuary certification, an honor awarded to a select group of earth-minded golf courses around the country.
Course at a Glance:
The Madison Club’s 18-hole, championship course develops over gently rolling hills and winds through trees for a layout engulfed in a spectacular setting that incorporates the natural landscape into course play. Multiple water hazards challenge the golfer, as highlighted on the interesting par 3 17th, a hole that forces golfers to carry a short-iron tee shot over open water and has been lauded as one of western Pennsylvania’s best public holes by both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the fish that cheer on golfers from the green-protecting pond. Cut in to the rolling hills, holes are bordered with slopes and mounds that redirect errant shots back on to the carpet-like fairways. After a day at the links, guests can unwind with a light meal from the course restaurant or toast to the memory of broken golf tees with a drink from its full-service bar.
The nine-hole course at The Club at Blackthorne stretches for nearly 3,000 yards of expansive fairways and receptive greens designed by Palmer Course Design Company, Arnold Palmer’s namesake firm. Players tee off on the 400-yard par 4 first hole—with the eighth, one of just two holes 400 yards or longer—sending their golf balls flying against a horizon dominated by the Laurel Mountains in the distance. The fifth hole’s huge arc of a dogleg presents golfers with a classic risk/reward shot off the tee, much like hitting shots over a pool of lava onto a green made of chocolate. Golfers can attempt to fly the cherry trees in hopes of reaching the green in one stroke—thereby risking a tight lie in the fescue grasses—or they can lay up near the fairway bunker for a short iron shot into the green. The signature ninth hole demands similar theatrics, as a lake and six bunkers team up to force a 200-yard carry just to reach the fairway, and an elevated green renders approach shots trickier than their short length might indicate.
Course at a Glance:
The Club at Blackthorne's rates fluctuate throughout the week and year. Though The Club at Blackthorne sometimes features a discounted price online, this Groupon still offers the best deal available.
Set on the rolling wooded banks of the Youghiogheny River, Butler's Golf Course has been challenging golfers for more than 80 years with two 18-hole courses. The 6,314-yard Woodside course cushions golf shoes in a gently rolling terrain, and the 6,689-yard Lakeside course grants sweeping views of the adjacent valley and a few blind shots. Both par 72 courses can be enjoyed from the seat of a conveniently motorized golf cart, which transports golfers and their gear between holes, around scattered hillocks, and across the line in tense photo finishes.