Greenbrier Classic: Old money, investment money and Bubba, too
The cavernous Greenbrier Resort Hotel, where Rockefeller money, new-age technology money and luxuries of all types and descriptions meet in White Sulphur Springs.
And next week, the Greenbrier Classic with coal baron Jim Justice’s money and considerable influence will host the July 4th stop on the Professional Golf Association’s tour.
The hills will ring with the crack of metal woods hammering 350-yard-plus drives splitting the generous fairways. That’s during the four rounds that begin on Thursday, July 2, and continue through Sunday, July 5. At night, there will be two concerts that will take place at the West Virginia State Fair property in nearby Lewisburg. Headlining those concerts are Keith Urban, the Band Perry, Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton.
Headlining the golf tournament that has a field of 156 golfers will be Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed, Louis Oosthuisen, Bill Haas, Kevin Na and defending champion Angel Cabrera.
The purse is a shiny $6,700,000. The winner’s share is a motivating $1,206,000. Shooting a par round of 70 will not get the job done in the Greenbrier Classic. Par has to be shattered if any golfer is to be in contention on Sunday afternoon.
The better-known players may not do much.
Every champion in Justice’s tournament has been a lesser-known figure or has been in the fringes of FedEx Cup contention in recent tournaments or recent years.
Keegan Bradley could win. Or so might the likes of Brandt Snedeker, Steve Stricker, George McNeill, Nick Watney or Steve Bowditch.
But it’s more likely Cameron Tringale, Marc Leishman or Webb Simpson will have the champion’s sport coat wrapped around his shoulders by the imposing 6-foot-8, 375-pound Justice and Cabrera than Watson or Reed.
Justice casts a mountain of chips at the players, trying to get the best he can round up during a holiday week that comes close to the British Open on the calendar.
The Mountain State entrepreneur got Tiger Woods to play in his tournament back when Tiger Woods WAS Tiger Woods. Phil Mickelson missed the cuts when he and his family were in the lap of luxury that is the Greenbrier.
John Daly comes for an annual visit with Justice. A win by either Daly or Woods this year would jolt the Richter Scale off its base and cause more noise than the Hatfield and McCoys ever did in another part of the state.
The Old White Course is beautiful if you are a spectator with a $129 daily pass. It’s also beautiful for the low-scoring professionals who know a score of 20 under par might be needed just to stay in contention late on Sunday.
Wide fairways allow the long hitters to let out the shaft.
The final hole is a par 3 over water. There are three tee areas for the last hole, one that has stands for the well-heeled on one side and a enclosed dining area named for Sam Snead on the other side.
It’s the Greenbrier Classic. It’s Jim Justice at his promotional best. It’s West Virginia’s touch of the PGA tour.
Money flows like waters in the state’s many near-pristine rivers. Old money, technology investment money. Even the money Sam Snead is said to have buried in tin cans in his backyard when he was the master at both the Greenbrier Resort and in his home state of Virginia at the nearby Homestead Resort.