The following article is a paid collaboration with Wild, Wonderful West Virginia.
At Coonskin Park Golf Course, you can forgo the formalities (and price tag) of country club golf in favor of a fun, family-friendly atmosphere.
Because it’s short but technical, this course in the rolling hills of Charleston, WV, is great way to introduce the whole family to golf. It gives beginners a well-rounded but manageable introduction, but challenges *advanced players to hone the skills they normally overlook. *
This public, 18-hole par-3 course (for a total of par 55) is a tight, tree-lined mountain course, which offers a different feel than your typical resort courses. Its compact layout takes more concentration than brute strength, and the hilly landscape is an extra challenge if you are used to a more flat course.
If you are a beginner, this is an excellent course to work on your short-game technique and skills. Many holes are in the 85-140 yard drive range, which makes the par 3 attainable. Because it’s a smaller course, you can play the whole course through to get a feel for the game, and practice your drive, chipping, putting and strategy around the many trees and scenic lakes.
"The back 9 get a little longer, so there are plenty holes where you might need several irons," said Preston Browning, a private instructor who teaches at Coonskin a lot. “There is one par 4 back there.”
But don't let the shorter drive range fool you. Advanced players can use the small, tight course as a place to practice their own short game — a skillset that beginners appreciate while they work on perfecting the long drive, but that players with some experience usually overlook.
"The greens have some slope to them, so putting can be a challenge," Preston said. “The greens are regularly maintained, and it’s a great walking course.”
You can’t take carts within 30 feet of the green, but at a length of 2,240 yards, toting or rolling your bag (you can rent push carts) is a great way to add some extra exercise to the game.
Stop at Coonskin Park on a day off or after work to relieve some stress, without worrying about dressing the part. The dress code is low-key. And it’s affordable: just $10 on the weekends and $11 during the week.
"If you’re a beginner, it’s a great place to learn to play," Preston said. “They do have clubs for rent. Normally it’s not crowded, but during the weekday, if it’s possible, would be the best time for beginners to stop in and take their time learning the game.”
For more practice options, stop in the clubhouse. Staff can link you up with private lessons, or you can take the short walk up to the 15-tee driving range to practice your long drive.
After a round of golf, check out some of the other outdoor activities at the park: nature walks and hiking trails, an amphitheatre, volleyball and tennis courts, a playground and soccer field, swimming pool, and a boat ramp for canoeing or boating down the Elk River. You can even pack a picnic to share at the shelters throughout the park.
Originally written for West Virginia .