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Golf resort owners hope for improvement in second year

February 08, 2002

Golf resort owners hope for improvement in second year



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


The new Whitetail Golf Resort on Blairs Valley Road ended its first full season in December below the expectations of its owners.

Mike O'Keefe, borough manager for the Borough of Hummelstown, Pa., which owns the 250-acre golf course through its municipal authority, said 20,000 rounds were projected at the beginning of the golf season in the spring of 2001.

The course opened in April 2001.

The actual number of rounds played was closer to 15,000, O'Keefe said.

"We're hoping this year will be better," he said.

"No one could have anticipated Sept. 11 or the economic downturn," said Joseph Wisocki, general manager of the golf course. He said a creative marketing effort will be launched this year.

The golf course did get its liquor license after Labor Day, Wisocki said. Montgomery Township, where the course is located, is dry, so liquor outlets are banned.

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Wisocki said the rules do not apply to municipalities or to municipal authorities.

The golf course has a 32-seat lounge where liquor is served, he said.

Hummelstown, a Dauphin County community of 4,000 near Harrisburg, bought the golf course for $7.5 million in December 1999 from the Dauphin County General Authority.

Hummelstown hired Kemper Sports Management Group of Northbrook, Ill., to manage the course.

Kemper manages about 60 golf courses around the country, including Holly Hills and Whiskey Creek in Frederick, Md. It also sponsors the annual Kemper Open golf tournament in Potomac, Md.

The Whitetail course runs for 7,000 yards. It's surrounded by forested hills with wide vistas offered from 13 holes in a valley. The other five holes are nestled in the woods. Licking Creek runs through the course and is crossed by 11 wooden bridges. It has two man-made ponds and 40 acres that have been set aside in conservation easements.

An overall plan calls for construction of a 90-room hotel and convention center to be built on the golf course. Those plans will be kept on a back burner until business picks up, O'Keefe said.

The golf course is next to the Whitetail Ski Resort. Both facilities make the area a year-round recreational venture.

Also on paper are plans for a residential development of up to 700 homes on land around the golf course.

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