Greenbrier Classic: something for all
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. - They may not have Tiger or Phil (yet?), but the golf world should certainly get its fill next month at the inaugural Greenbrier Classic.
The Greenbrier resort promises something for everyone when the $6 million PGA Tour event takes place July 29-Aug. 1 at the historic Old White course.
Be it the 156-player field, their families or the thousands of fans expected to descend on the area, everybody should find something to their liking, said resort owner Jim Justice.
"It's a playhouse,'' Justice said Monday during a media day at the course. "A playhouse that you'll really enjoy.''
Besides The Greenbrier's underground Casino Club, which is set to open Friday, a pair of concerts featuring country music stars Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Reba McIntire and Rascal Flatts are scheduled during the week of the golf tournament. This on top of the many amenities The Greenbrier has become known for around the world.
Justice and his staff hope that's enough to attract some of the world's top golfers to their grounds a month from now.
Presently, the Greenbrier Open has drawn commitments from two of the top 10 players on the PGA money list - No. 3 Jim Furyk and No. 8 Matt Kuchar. Other top names include Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Ricky Barnes, Geoff Ogilvy, K.J. Choi, Davis Love III, Rocco Mediate, Boo Weekley, Kenny Perry and two golfers who attended Monday's news conference - Stuart Appleby and Brandt Snedeker.
"We're just starting to put together the group,'' Justice said. "I can honestly say this [to the PGA golfers]: Wait until you guys see the course and wait until you see all the stuff we have in store for you, as far as concerts coming in here, the resort stuff you and your family can enjoy, all the amenities. And you'll enjoy the warmth of the people.
"I honestly think it will be an event people will absolutely love. For those who won't make it here, I think they'll regret it. It will be really special.''
Appleby, a native of Australia who has eight PGA Tour wins, heard great things about The Greenbrier and its history and even though he admitted "it's off the beaten track,'' he thinks it will get a thumbs-up from the majority of the players.
"Most tournaments we come to, the sites are restricted physically,'' he said. "There's no room, corporate tents are being put up just because the clubhouses aren't big enough. It's just the facilities are compromised. I can't say that here. It seems like this encompasses most of West Virginia, this property.
"I'm very enthused with the prospect of so many thousands of people coming together for the first time ... It sounds like this place is going to be switched on from Day 1. I doubt if there's going to be too many disappointed players. They might be disappointed about their game or the quality of golf, but I'm sure you're going to have a couple happy wives and girlfriends ... well, likely not those two together.''
Appleby said the list of players Justice read at Monday's media day is only a small portion of the well-known names that will likely compete in the event this year and in the near future. The deadline to enter is 5 p.m. on July 23.
"There is probably going to be 10 times what you see,'' he said. "Five to 10 times. That's only a very small list of the quality there. It will be proper competition. I can only see the field getting stronger. So I'm not sure how you measure this tournament from its growth point of view ... and how it relates to the quality of the field.
"You see the field coming up. Do we have Tiger Woods? No. Do we have Phil? Yes/no. But the bottom line is you need to walk away from the tournament - all of us, and you write your columns the week after - and I don't see this tournament having a plateau for a long time. I think there are enough people behind it. We'll walk away happy.''
Gov. Joe Manchin, who also took part in the news conference, said the financial impact of the Greenbrier Open can only boost the state's economy this summer, and perhaps for months to come.
"Since 2000, [tourism] has grown almost annually by 8 percent,'' Manchin said. "We're talking about an industry of billions and billions of dollars. It's about 12 million dollars a day for the state of West Virginia. That's what we receive from tourism.
"This has put West Virginia on the map. We've always known the premier resort is The Greenbrier. But we haven't had this type of event where the world is watching, until Jim came with his world vision to bring The Greenbrier back.''
Manchin said he's assured Justice that traffic flow and crowd control for the tournament won't present problems.
"For everybody concerned about getting there or the best way to travel, there will be no problems getting in to enjoy this lovely event here,'' he said, "or finding a place to stay and enjoying wild and wonderful West Virginia. We believe it is something for everybody.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.