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.
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.
Staffed by experienced coaches and computers who’ve sworn allegiance to the three laws of golfing robotics, GolfTec’s motion sensors and high-speed cameras monitor swings and break down each individual’s form on a high-definition video display to get results. Sensors chirp with approval whenever they detect the perfect stroke or an especially witty golfing joke. GolfTec’s certified personal coaches will point out flaws and strengths while providing golfers with tips on how to permanently improve their game from tee to green.
Draped over the verdant Washington County countryside, Fort Cherry Golf Club's 18-hole course spans 6,205 yards of rolling, player-friendly terrain. The course's relatively open layout invites players to blast tee shots with their drivers or T-shirt cannons at nearly every non-par 3, as sparse tree lines offer little impediment to shots that find the rough, and the course's multiple sand bunkers loom by the greens—not the fairways. An adjacent driving range loosens up swings to perfection, and a practice green sharpens up putting strokes and helps players get a feel for how to read the course's subtle slopes and metaphorical flagsticks. With its own motel and a gourmet bar and restaurant, the club hosts all-day and overnight golf-outing packages for a restful pin-hunting vacation.
Course at a Glance:
Rolling over the naturally hilly landscape, the bright-green turf of Statler’s Fun Center’s miniature-golf course winds around the center’s 1,528-foot go-kart track. Engines roar as racers 10 or older zip through the over-and-under bridge’s tight turns or give their lead foot free rein on the straightaways.
The soundtrack of purring motors underscores high-stakes games of miniature golf as players putt their way through deviously landscaped greens, expertly maneuvering the cave with a hidden waterfall and defeating the final hole guarded by squatting gophers. An air-conditioned snack shop provides respite from summer heat with cool drinks and an arcade full of excuses to hang out indoors, such as the classic air-hockey table and skee-ball.
Designed by Mark Ormison in 1897, the fairways of Bob O'Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park sprawl over 51 acres and invite linksmen to frolic among foliage that has been flourishing for more than a century, while also gazing out on metropolitan views. Players find themselves challenged right from the get-go with a second hole that is also the toughest, but can strive for birdies at holes 8 and 17 to recover. At the 11th hole, golfers encounter a quirky rectangular green, whose geometric origins are likely found in a house having occupied the space long ago. The course is managed by the local charity The First Tee Pittsburgh, which strives to encourage good character, values, and healthy life choices in children through the game of golf, and proceeds from the course benefit its programs.
Before hitting the course, players can hone their form at the course’s driving range in good weather, take lessons with a Class A PGA professional, or strengthen their swings at the Full Swing simulator, which tracks ball flight, speed, and distance in real time. The simulator offers high-definition projections of more than 35 notable courses, including Pebble Beach, Oakmont Country Club, Pinehurst Country Club, and Harbour Town Golf Links, and lets golfers sharpen their swings in the dead of winter without fear of losing a limb to frostbite or abominable ground squirrels.
Course at a Glance: