The Omni Homestead Resort is a classic historic hotel in the Allegheny Mountains. The clock tower-topped hotel has welcomed guests since the Revolutionary War including twenty-three U.S. Presidents. I love the enormity and classiness of the Great Hall with the high ceilings and columns anchored by the large stone fireplace. The expansive dining room is just as elegant. In the community of Hot Springs in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains, the hotel has historic accommodations and extensive recreation activities including horseback riding, swimming, a water park and a spa.
They associate two golf courses with the Omni Homestead Resort. The venerable Cascades Course where Sam Snead began his career is four miles to the south. It’s ranked by Gold Magazine as the #1 public course in the state of Virginia. The Old Course is next to the hotel and is the oldest first tee in continuous use.
The Omni Homestead Cascades Course
Amazing that Cascades stays on the Top 100 public courses that you can play at only 6873 yards. A par 70 rated 72.8 from the tips means that it’s three strokes more difficult than par for accomplished players.
Designed by William Flynn in 1923 who also designed the top private course in New York, Shinnecock Hills and worked on the fabled Merion CC. Six USGA championships have competed here.
Although billed as a mountain course, the course sits down in a small valley surrounded by hills covered in white pine and hemlock trees. Elevation changes are significant but gradual.
But this hilly course doesn’t immediately feel like the championship calibre course that it is. Two of the first three par4s are short. But the greens are tiny, protected by bunkers and lightning fast speeds.
The course builds from a simple start with five holes on the front nine running along or near Sam Snead Highway. It gets better through the round. The back nine is a spectacular layout ending with a par 3, two par 5’s, and finishing with an unusual par 3. Flynn was not bound by traditional architectural approaches on this nine.
Accuracy off the tee is paramount. Elevation changes of tees and strongly sloping fairways add a natural level of complexity and challenge rather than a tricked up layout. Bent grass from tee to green is provides excellent turf for a mountain course. Many regard The Cascades as the finest mountain course in North America.
The course has five par3s which may be the finest set of par3s you’ll ever find, with severe penalties when short sided, noted Don Ryder, longtime director of golf. Don is now manager of club operations.
Hole 1. A 379 yard par 4. Straightway with no bunkers it’s a meek start to such a venerable course. They report Sam Snead drove the first green, 438 yards from the tips.
Hole 16. A 488 yard dogleg right par 5. Multiple fairway bunkers protect the inside of the dogleg challenging the tee shot placement for those looking to reach in two. Then a large water feature protects the green in front.
Hole 17. A 481 yard dogleg left par 5. This one begs the player to go for it. No fairway bunkers and room to run it on the green begs the player to go for it in two. But water right and bunkers left and long will penalize the errant shot.
Hole 18. A 165 yard par 3 is an unusual finish. Over water with the historic clubhouse seen in the distance, it makes a wonderful end to a fun experience.
A beautiful, challenging and historic course remarkably unknown yet consistently in the top 100 public course ranking. Despite the accolades, the price is higher than we think warranted. If you get anywhere near The Omni Homestead Resort and you can whether the fees play this golf course. It’s an interesting contrast to the Greenbrier Old White TPC Course also in the Allegheny Mountains just one hour to the southwest. Both are impressive golf courses for different reasons.
Explore other Mid-Atlantic golf course profiles from Quintessential Golf Magazine.