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The Black Knight Country Club in Beckley was organized in 1928–29 when Col. Ernest Chilson, general manager and vice president of Raleigh Coal & Coke, offered more than 60 acres of company property for a golf course and clubhouse. The club’s name came from the ‘‘Black Knight’’ trademark of the coal company. Raleigh Coal & Coke owned the club, and membership was limited to those prominent in coal and related industries. The clubhouse, designed by Chilson, was a three-story white cinder block building with Art Deco features. The nine-hole golf course was designed by noted golf architect Fred Findlay. Governor Conley attended the club’s grand opening, May 31, 1929.

In 1938, noted golfer Sam Snead played an exhibition match at Black Knight. In 1950, Raleigh Coal & Coke ceased operations, and the club members purchased the club in April 1951. By 2000, the club included six tennis courts, pro shops for golf and tennis, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a bathhouse with sunning and picnic area, outdoor terraces on the first and second floors of the clubhouse, and remodeled ballroom, dining rooms, kitchen, and bar. The country club struggled financially in recent years because of declining membership. In June 2011, the club was purchased by Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier resort, who had been a member for many years and wanted to see the club remain open. In December 2017, citing costs and declining membership, Justice closed the club. In May 2018, the city of Beckley bought the club and reopened it, offering golf, dinner and meeting room rentals to the public and organizations.

This Article was written by Lois C. McLean

Last Revised on October 11, 2023

Related Articles


Conley, Phil. A Man of Vision . . . a Builder. West Virginia Review, (September 1930).

Cite This Article

McLean, Lois C. "Black Knight Country Club." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 11 October 2023. Web. 13 June 2024.


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