Plenty of Westchester golfers are fortunate enough to belong to more than one golf club around the country. Serious players might consider teeing it up during their travels at Pikewood National Golf Club high in the mountains of West Virginia near Morgantown. A national membership there is sure to make great 19th hole conversations wherever you go.
Industrialist John Raese and his associate Bob Gwynne built the course intending to create a club for serious golfers only — and they certainly succeeded. Pikewood National was named the Best New Private Course in America by Golf Digest when it opened in 2009. Since then it’s accumulated numerous other accolades, including a proud listing among America’s 20 Hardest Golf Courses from the same publication.
Is it hard? In a word, yes. What makes it hard? In another word, length. From the tips, Pikewood National measures 7,649 yards. From the regular tees, it is 6,984 yards. There are no other options, although a couple of holes have alternate tee boxes and if you create your own forward markers by teeing it up on the front of most tee boxes you can get it down to 6,500 yards. The regular tees carry a 75.6 rating and 151 slope. Elevation changes, knee-high native grass rough, and subtly contoured greens add to the fun. Bogey golfers beware!
A few other items add to the challenge of the course. You’ll test your driver early in the round at the 486-yard second hole, the longest par four on the course. Then comes the third hole, the only one of the one-shot holes that lacks a forced carry — although it’s a 228-yard scenic wonder surrounded by native grasses and sand. Speaking of scenic wonders, you’ll want to stop and drink in the view of the natural waterfall behind the fifth hole, a 164-yard par three.
The back nine starts with a hole aptly named “Old Bastard.” It’s a dogleg left 419-yard uphill killer that ends on a tricky elevated green. The 17th hole, a 525-yard par five, is a classic risk-and-reward hole for longer hitters who can challenge the pond in front of the green. Playing it safe by laying up to the pond is not necessarily a good option, though, since you’ll have a delicate third shot into a shallow green.
Even if you can’t reach many of the greens in regulation at Pikewood National, you can certainly enjoy the magnificent scenery and 40-mile views from numerous places on the course. It truly is a magical experience to tee off from a spot where you can see three states.
The ambiance is special, too. It’s a walking-only course and the caddies are extremely knowledgeable. With a small membership that plays about 1600 rounds annually, you and your playing partners may be alone on the course on any given day — and there is absolutely not a building in site (including the clubhouse!) from any hole on the course.
Members are welcome to stay in one of three four-bedroom cottages named after Tour pros who are associated with the club, 1958 PGA champion Dow Finsterwald, 3-time Ryder Cupper Johnny Pott, and 1968 Masters champion Bob Goalby. The cottages are filled with memorabilia like the set of irons that Johnny Pott used to compile a perfect 4-0 record in the 1967 Ryder Cup.
There’s also a comfortable rustic clubhouse, locker room full of fabulous memorabilia, and an intimate bar and grill room. The practice facility is world-class, too.
Pikewood National is about a six hour drive from Westchester, but an easy flight to Pittsburgh, which is about an hour from the club in Morgantown, WV.