America's oldest golf course up for sale
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's Oakhurst Links is up for sale -- the birthplace of American golf, where sheep roam the fairways and modern technology takes a back seat to hickory-shafted clubs.
Owner Lewis Keller said that after 50 years, it's time for someone else to oversee the White Sulphur Springs course that held its first competition in 1884.
The asking price for the nine-hole course and its museum -- $4.5 million.
Oakhurst Links is on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been closed to public play this year, although a tournament was held earlier this summer
It's the history that makes Oakhurst Links worth the trip.
Visitors are required to use replica hickory clubs, hit gutta-percha balls molded from the sap of the sapodilla tree, and form tees from a mound of wet sand. Electric carts are unavailable -- golfers walk among the dozens of sheep just as participants did a century ago.
Keller would knock a golf ball around the pastures with his sons and occasionally find reminders of yesteryear: A gutta-percha ball, and a cup still embedded in what was once the No. 8 green.
Keller had a vision about restoring the course but didn't act until he got some coaxing from golf writer Dick Taylor. Golf designer Bob Cupp heard about the course and stepped forward to volunteer with the restoration.
Work started in 1991 and was done by hand, with newspaper and magazine clippings and course photos serving as guides. The 2,235-yard course reopened in October 1994. The longest hole is 356 yards and the shortest is 106.
The course's museum is full of snapshots of visits from golfers such as Snead, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson, who is now the golf pro emeritus at the nearby Greenbrier resort. Keller is hosting an event with Watson at Oakhurst in mid-September.