A Former Caddy Remembers Cedar Rocks Golf Course
[Note: Last September, we posted a story about Wheeling’s short-lived Cedar Rocks Golf Course. Now, in anticipation of spring, former caddy Bob Rine shares his memories of the final two years of the club’s existence, before the attack on Pearl Harbor drew the United States into another world war.]
by Bob Rine
In the fall of 1939, we moved from the farm to 227 Stone Church Road in Elm Grove, and I started my freshman year at Triadelphia High School. The following three summers I caddied at the Cedar Rocks Golf Club, which was two miles up Big Wheeling Creek Road, but actually, you were going south, into Marshall County.
You turned left into the Club and drove along the left side of number 18, a straightaway par 4 with the tee on the other side of the creek and the green just left of the clubhouse. The parking lot, golf shop and caddy yard were behind the green. Chuck Onoretta was the Professional and his wife Cora ran the golf shop. She-paid the caddies through a window that opened onto the caddy yard, where we hung around waiting for a bag and later to get paid. The Caddymaster was an elderly Scotsman who still had the brogue. We called him Scotty. I think he favored me a bit, because as we all stood there waiting for him to hand out the bags, he would often give me the nod first.
We got to the course by standing at the rock wall in front of Monument Place on Kruger Street, and members driving to the course knew we were caddies and picked us up. (I forget how we got back. We either rode with members or thumbed back to the. Grove. We certainly didn’t walk back.)
Wooden steps led from the golf shop up the hill to the first tee. That was a pretty good climb with a golf bag on your shoulder. The only other climb was on No. 11, a par 3 to an elevated green. Chuck and Cora lived in a house between No. 11 green and No. 12 tee. Most of the course was open country, gently rolling, a beautiful setting. Except for the first four holes and No. 18, all the holes were on the other side of the creek, on land owned by Albert Schenk of the meatpacking Schenks. His home was between No. 15 green and No. 16 tee. It was called Elm Knoll, and the “Elm Knoll” sign is still there as you turn-off the Creek road into the acreage. Some nice homes there now, including “Casey’s White’s Horse Farm,” plus corn fields.
Most of the members were business and professional men from Wheeling. I remember R. P. Harold, an insurance man who was also a musician. He amazed and amused us caddies as he played the course. I remember a Scotsman named Sandy Campbell, who tipped a nickel. He carried a pen knife and picked up broken tees and sharpened them to use again.
Caddies could play the course on Mondays, and my friend and I played often. He had a 2-iron and a putter and I had my older brother’s driver and 9-iron. That’s what we played with, sharing the clubs. We used balls that we found on the course. A Po-Do cost a quarter at Walgreens and an Acushnet Titleist — the best ball — was 75 cents.
Playing that beautiful course (there’s no such thing as an ugly golf course) got me hooked on the game, and I’ve been playing it ever since. I tell my friends I play the game with Es (ease): enthusiastic and erratic. It’s the greatest game in the world.
The great Sam Snead and the rest of the state’s best golfers played there in the West Virginia Open, more than once. One story has it that Snead had an 8 on number 18. It could be true. It was a narrow fairway, and he could have hooked a couple out of bounds.
Our entry into World War II in December 1941 was the beginning of the end for the club and the course. Members, maintenance staff, and caddies went into the service. Over the next two years, everything was phased out. The course couldn’t be kept up, so Victory Gardens – part of the war effort— were planted in some fairways. What was then the back nine is now a big corn field. As far as I know, no effort to revive the club and course was made after the war. But the memories remain.
The Rest of the Story
After seeing Archiving Wheeling’s original post about the golf course, Justin Casey, great-grandson of Albert Schenk II and grandson of Albert Schenk III (owners of the Cedar Rocks property where some family members still live), shared these rare photographs of Cedar Rocks. Justin believes the 17th tee was actually located in the woods behind the house as there is a large flat area shaped like a tee box oriented towards that 17 green. He indicated his correction in red on the map originally created by George Jones (see below). Justin also marked where he believes the 13 Green is actually located due to a large flat area up in those woods.