West VirginiaThere’s no doubt West Virginia is rural and is probably best known for its windy roads and dusty coal mines. Take a closer look into the leisure opportunities the state’s immense natural beauty provides and you might find something that surprises you: spectacular mountain golf courses. Sometimes the state’s coal history and golf even intermingle. Here are a few popular stopovers.

The Greenbrier. Perhaps the best of the best of golf resorts in the world, the Greenbrier in quiet White Sulphur Springs continues to thrill those fortunate enough to play its greens. Three championship courses, combine with the history and ambience of “America’s Resort” to create a uniquely Old White experience. The Sam Snead legacy continues here, where old-fashioned service never became old-fashioned. www.greenbrier.com.

Oakhurst Links. The first golf club established in the United States is also the home of the first tournament in the country. In 1992, avid golfer Lewis Keller bought the property and engaged architect Bob Cupp to restore the course. Today, golfers play Oakhurst using replica 1800s hickory clubs and gutta percha balls, precursors to the modern-day, rubber-core golf ball.

Snowshoe Mountain. The Gary Player-designed Raven Golf Course is tops among mountain courses and a favourite for West Virginia golf aficionados. Even in the heat of August, it’s only about 72 degrees on the greens way up here. Now there’s world-class lodging Allegheny Springs and incredible dining at The Red Fox in the Village at Snowshoe. With more than $100 million in improvements in the last few years and an array of outdoor activities, Snowshoe Mountain might be one of the best golf destinations in the Mid-Atlantic. www.snowshoemtn.com.

Oglebay Resort. Steel put Wheeling on the map in the 20th century, but today tourism is the area’s biggest draw and Oglebay is its unique centrepiece. A municipal park, Oglebay offers three courses, including one by Arnold Palmer and the other by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. Besides the golfing there’s a zoo, a kids’ train ride, museums, environmental education centre, restaurants, clubs and an array of outdoor fun. www.oglebay-resort.com.

Stonewall Resort. West Virginia’s newest resort (and probably the most accessible for Canadian travellers) might not be the rugged setting one thinks of in a state park. The trees are there, adjacent to the state’s second-largest lake (and best fishing impoundment), but the lodging, dining and golf are a step above most state parks. The Arnold Palmer-designed course is receiving rave reviews (and lots of grunts and curses from the not-so-good golfers) for its incredible lakeside beauty and long, challenging holes. Plus the spa and nature programs will keep the rest of the family happy. The park is just three minutes off the I-79 Roanoke exit in north central West Virginia. www.stonewallresort.com.

Twisted Gun. It’s only US $25 to play 18 on this course tucked into the coalfields of southern West Virginia. But it’s more the experience than the price that will leave you wondering why you haven’t been here before. Built on a reclaimed surface mine site, this course is a joint partnership with Arch Coal and Premium Energy Corp. This 7,015-yard, links-style golf course is the only 18-hole course in a three-county area because of the naturally occurring steep terrain. The U.S. Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining named Twisted Gun Golf Course one of the nation’s best reclamation sites. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection also gave Arch Coal its top reclamation award for demonstrating the highest standards in post-mining land use for Twisted Gun. www.twistedgungolf.com.

For more information, call 1-800-CALL WVA, e-mail info@callwva.com, or visit www.callwva.com.