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Pa. golf course receives two-year lease on life

September 05, 2000

Pa. golf course receives two-year lease on life



By DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Rocky Spring Golf Course at Letterkenny Army Depot got a new two-year lease on life Tuesday when the board of directors of the Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority approved a maintenance and management contract with a California firm.

The board will pay Environmental Golf Inc. of Calabasas, Calif., $393,000 in each of the next two years to run the 3,000-yard, nine-hole regulation golf course, which the Army will cease operating Dec. 31.

The vote gave Executive Director John Van Horn the authority to approve the contract pending a staff review.

"Short-term, we'd manage the course in its current layout and make it a public daily-fee course," said Bob McCormick, Environmental Golf's East Coast business manager for development.

Use of the course is now primarily limited to depot and military personnel and retirees, according to Van Horn.

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The agreement will open its use to the public, including employees of companies at the Cumberland Valley Business Park, Van Horn said.

The park is being developed by the authority on about 1,500 acres of land being transferred to the authority, which was created after the Base Realignment and Closure Commission voted in 1995 to downsize the depot.

At the end of two years the authority could exercise a three-year option with Environmental Golf and at that point there could be some major changes in the layout. "The master plan does call for rerouting the golf course to accommodate the business park plan," McCormick said.

That would include moving three holes and incorporating them with three planned stormwater retention ponds that would become water hazards, he said. "We can general contract that job, or handle it in-house," McCormick said.

The authority has been discussing for several months whether to take over operation of the course. Authority member John Redding has promoted the view that the course will be an asset for companies at the business park and an attraction for firms considering it as a location.

Some of the course is on land scheduled to be transferred from the Army to the authority, while part of it would be leased from the Army, according to Van Horn.

Environmental Golf has been involved in golf course management and construction for 35 years, according to McCormick. The company has had a hand in building more than 400 municipal, public and club links and manages 40, he said.

The company plans to expand its management role to 200 courses by 2004 and has annual revenues of about $500 million, according to McCormick. Since the Army owns the mowers, golf carts and other equipment at the course, he said Environmental Golf would bring in "a whole new fleet."

McCormick said his company will work to maintain the customers who now use the course, as well as marketing it to broaden the customer base. He expects the course should have upwards of 34,000 rounds played a year.

The course now charges $8 to $11 for nine holes and $13 to $17 for 18 holes, according to authority figures. Greens fees for next year haven't been established, but Van Horn said they will be competitive with other public courses in the area.

Those green fees will be used to reimburse the authority, Van Horn said. "It's certainly our hope that it operates in the black," McCormick said.

"The biggest issue facing golf today is not interest, but affordability," McCormick said. The course actually has 10 holes and McCormick envisions that 10th hole being used as a teaching facility.

"We certainly will be installing some programs to encourage junior golf," he said.

Authority member Redding said the course has 279 members who have paid annual membership fees, but that does not include the depot employees and retirees eligible to use the course, or the number of guests that members are allowed to bring to play.

The depot could not provide figures on the course's annual budget or on the number of rounds played.

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