Mountaineer Country's Lakeview Scanticon Resort a place of legends
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Outside the pro shop at Lakeview Scanticon Resort and Conference Center, a small scoreboard displays some of the low rounds recorded at the 49-year-old course.
Sam Snead, who won a record 81 PGA Tour events and 15 West Virginia Opens, shot 67 on July 15, 1958. Jack Nicklaus, playing an exhibition match against Arnold Palmer, also fired a 67 on June 29, 1979.
Then there's Brad Westfall.
Who? Westfall is a club pro and current three-time defending champion of the West Virginia Open. Westfall shot a 66, beating the golf legends by a stroke, in 2001. But Westfall's feat wasn't hailed the second coming of Jack because, well, Brad's not Jack.
Lakeview, rather, clings to the decades-old visits by the game's masters in promoting its grand course, which opened in 1954. And that approach is working. Perched high above Cheat Lake near Morgantown and West Virginia University, the resort packs in golfers on weekends to play Lakeview and its sister course, Mountainview.
Perhaps they are attracted by the 564-yard 7th hole, which features a 180-foot vertical drop and offers beautiful views of Cheat Lake. Or the well-groomed greens. Or the backbreaking, 620-yard closing hole.
A local architect named James Harrison laid out the initial nine holes of Lakeview, then nine more holes were added in 1954. The Mountainview course, designed by Brian Ault, opened in 1985.
Lakeview is the main attraction. It's a challenging course that offers some nice views of Cheat Lake, and its finale is one of the best in the state: a 620-yard par-5 that plays uphill the last 150 yards to a small green.
Although the course has no water hazards, Lakeview can be challenging from the back tees because they climb gradually uphill, leading to sometimes daunting approach shots. The sloping greens can be trying if you miss to the wrong side of the cup.
"The first hole is a gift; then you put your jock strap on," says Jim Sipes, head golf pro.
After the easy par-4 opener, the fun begins with a 367-yard par-4 that forces you to tee off up a steep hill, leaving you with a sidehill lie if you haven't perfectly struck your drive. No. 3, a 392-yard par-4, and No. 6, a 429-yard par-4, are deceptively long because of the uphill finishes.
No. 7 is a beautiful downhill par-5 that offers a view of Cheat Lake. Unfortunately, the course then turns for home on the front nine with an uninspiring view of a local fast-food restaurant.
The back nine is played on two separate tracts of land. The first three holes and the magnificent 18th are played near the resort. The others veer away from the main course, requiring a lengthy drive (in the cart) to get there.
These five holes, Nos. 13-17, aren't spectacular but are fair enough tests. The best of the bunch is 560-yard, par-5 14th hole, which finishes among a group of well-kept homes near the Monongahela River.
The 18th hole is a classic. It plays long from every tee -- 602 yards from the regular men's tees and 466 yards from the women's markers. Sipes says the hole has never been reached in two shots from the tips. A marker to the right of the fairway marks the spot where Nicklaus came close.
One of the resort's drawbacks is the lack of a driving range. There's one a couple of miles away, but it doesn't open until mid-morning.
The other course at the resort is Mountainview, a short drive from the clubhouse.
Mountainview winds up and down several good-sized hills through the Allegheny Forest. It isn't as long as Lakeview -- only 6,447 yards from the back tees. It also falls far behind Lakeview in condition.
The highlights are the par-5s on the back nine. No. 12 requires a drive to a small landing area that drops off to the left and into a grove of trees. The small, two-tiered green is tucked into more trees with a steep hillside behind it. The 549-yard finishing hole winds up like Lakeview in reverse, dropping downhill dramatically at the end after a blind tee shot.
Where to stay
Today, the Lakeview Scanticon Resort and Conference Center offers a woodsy getaway near the popular lake, with white water rafting, mountain biking, horseback riding, kayaking, canoeing and rock climbing in addition to two golf courses. Although it'll never be confused with the Greenbrier (the tony resort in White Sulfur Springs, W.Va.), but Lakeview is a comfortable weekend retreat that offers good golf on two courses at a reasonable price. The resort has 187 rooms, 50 two-bedroom townhouses, three restaurants, a spa and a fitness center.
If you prefer to stay in Morgantown, you'll find a list of local accommodations at theinnkeepers.net/morgantownwv.html.
Where to dine
Although the resort has three restaurants, it's worthwhile to check out Morgantown. Being a major university town, it isn't short on night spots. Try Madeleine's, a funky that offers seafood and chicken in an urban chic setting. Boston Beanery is the place for burgers, steaks and beers. Younger types crowd into 123 Pleasant Street for live music.
West Virginia is called "wild and wonderful" for nothing. Outdoors activities are its calling card. The state has some of the best whitewater rafting in the country at the new and Gauley rivers, some three hours to the southwest. Closer to Morgantown the Cheat River offers its own thrills, including the Class V Cheat Canyon. It's the largest free-flowing watershed in the eastern United States and is one of the few rivers that flows northward.
In the spring, the Cheat River Canyon has 30 rides of Class III or better. The pace slows during the summer, but there's always something flowing. Cheat River Outfitters (304-329-2024, cheatriveroutfitters.com), 30 miles away in Albright, can set you up for rafting, caving or rock climbing trips.
At nearby Coopers Rock State Forest, you can peer some 1,200 feet down into the Cheat River Canyon. Several of the shelters and other structures at this Depression-era park are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
But most people come here for rock climbing, hunting, fishing, and hiking or biking. There are several accessible cliffs that surround the Cheat River gorge. Check out Main Overlook, which gives a panoramic view of the gorge.
There are 51 miles of converted railroad line bike trails near Morgantown. Two bike trails wind through Morgantown. The Caperton Trail, which is paved for eight miles, follows the Monongahela River through the historic parts of the city, including an old railroad depot. It also goes near West Virginia University. It links with the Decker's Creek Trail downtown and continues south of the city for 16 miles on crushed limestone surface.
The centerpiece of the Caperton Trail is near the city's Wharf District, which is undergoing some $200 million in development. A 16-story Radisson hotel, the tallest in the state, recently opened and is expected to spur plenty of downtown activity.
Morgantown, named the country's No. 1 "Dreamtown" by bizjournals.com, is one day's drive from six of the seven largest U.S. metropolitan areas.
September 19, 2003