From the Kennedys to the Mint Julep, 10 things that might surprise you about The Greenbrier

From the Kennedys to the Mint Julep, 10 things that might surprise you about The Greenbrier resort

Most golf fans probably realize that The Greenbrier Classic is played on one of the most historic venues on the PGA Tour at one of America's most storied resorts. In fact, The Greenbrier, which is located in White Sulphur Springs, W.V. at the base of the Allegheny Mountains, refers to itself as The Greenbrier -- America's Resort.

The resort has good reason to make that claim, considering its guests over the last 230 years or so have included American figures like Andrew Jackson, Davey Crockett, Dolley Madison, the Kennedys and President Eisenhower. In fact, it was Eisenhower, who in 1958 had an 112,544-square-foot bunker built 720 feet into the hillside under The Greenbrier's West Virginia Wing as a secure fortress during the Cold War for federal leaders and Congress.

There are 54 holes of golf at The Greenbrier, led by The Old White TPC Course as it's now known, which is the host course for The Greenbrier Classic. In 2014, it celebrated its centennial, but did you know that architect Charles Blair Macdonald modeled several holes after some of the most famous golf holes in Scotland and Ireland? Yep, the Old White TPC's eighth hole was styled after the "Redan" at North Berwick; No. 13 after the "Alps" at Prestwick; and the 15th after the "Eden" at the Old Course at St. Andrews. One of the first golfers to play the course was President Woodrow Wilson in April 1914.

But Macdonald's design inspiration is just one of the resort's many interesting tidbits. Here are nine more that might surprise you.

It all began in 1787

The Greenbrier has been around since 1787, attracting visitors who wanted to bathe in the curative waters of its sulfur springs. Early presidents were among the guests, and during the Civil War and World War II, the resort was converted into a hospital. Afterwards, it was redesigned by Dorothy Draper, whose color schemes remain today.

This was Slammin' Sammy's house

Most folks associate the resort with Sam Snead -- he arrived in 1936 -- and you might know that he won The Greater Greensboro Open eight times, including 1965 at the age of 52, which still makes him the oldest player to win a PGA Tour event. But did you know he also recorded his first 59 on The Greenbrier Course at the resort in 1959?

Video: Matt Ginella on the luxurious Greenbrier experience

Snead was multi-talented

In 1944, Snead became head golf professional at the Greenbrier, but he was proficient in another sport as well. Not nearly as good as he was in golf, but Snead was more than competent in tennis. In 1937, while working at The Greenbrier, he played in the U.S. Pro Tennis Championships, facing eventual winner Karel Kozeluh in the first round. He lost 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.

Are you ready for some football?

The resort is finishing a practice facility and three football fields for the NFL's New Orleans Saints. The team will open training camp on July 25 at the resort. The club will hold a total of 20 practices, and they're open to the public.

Kennedy honeymoon suite

Joe and Rose Kennedy, the parents of John F. Kennedy, honeymooned at The Greenbrier in 1914. Rumor has it that JFK's oldest brother, Joseph Kennedy Jr., was conceived at The Greenbrier. He was born on July 25 the following year.

A different kind of birdie

If you were tired of golf, the resort has for years offered the sport of kings, falconry. For a fee, guests, with the training and watchful eye of The Greenbrier's resident expert, were able to experience the thrilling sensation of having a Harris Hawk fly to their gloved hand.

An employee for the ages

The Greenbrier's oldest employee is Frank Mosley, who will greet you at the entrance with a smile. Mosely is 82 years old and just celebrated his 55th year of service.

Boyardee was there

Ettore Boiardi (the face on the famous Chef Boyardee cans) catered the reception of President Woodrow Wilson's second wedding at The Greenbrier in 1915.

Drink of the South

The popular Southern drink, the Mint Julep, was believed to be invented at The Greenbrier. In case you're wondering, a Mint Julep consists primarily of bourbon, sugar or syrup and fresh mint, usually muddled with crushed ice in a silver or pewter cup. It's a tradition at the Kentucky Derby, where some 80,000 of these concoctions are served each year.

Dancing through the 21st century

And finally, as part of a revitalization plan by West Virginia's own Jim Justice, who bought the resort out of bankruptcy in 2009, the club just opened a dance club named "42 Below" in its casino. Justice thought the resort still needed to retain its long traditions, but it had become somewhat stale over the years, so he's spent the past few years injecting new energy into the old lady, by building a sushi bar, casino, securing a new tour event and now a dance club. Everything evolves, even The Greenbrier.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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From the Kennedys to the Mint Julep, 10 things that might surprise you about The Greenbrier resort