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Golf course will be reopened

March 12, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

Whitetail Golf Course, closed in January by the bank holding the mortgage, will reopen for the 2003 season under new management and with a new marketing strategy aimed at luring more Tri-State area golfers with cheaper greens fees, its owner said Tuesday.

The course is owned by the Hummelstown, Pa., General Authority.

Mike O'Keefe, general manager for Hummelstown and a member of its general authority, said Tuesday the authority voted to give the course a second chance after receiving the blessing of the mortgage holder.

The bank, First Financial of Downington, Pa., near Philadelphia, took the course back and ordered it closed Jan. 16 because of financial problems.

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The course, which opened in April 2001, was managed by Kemper Sports Management Group until January.

Franz Jansen is to be named the new full-time manager when the authority meets tonight, O'Keefe said. Jansen, a golf professional, has been serving as a consultant while the golf course was closed.

The golf course is a separate entity from the Whitetail ski resort next door on Blairs Valley Road.

The authority bought the 250-acre, 18-hole golf course from the Dauphin County (Pa.) General Authority in 1999 when it was under construction. Hummelstown paid $7.5 million for the facility.

The course lost money from the start, about $200,000 in each of the two years it was open.

Jansen, 43, managed a public golf course near Harrisburg, Pa., before coming to Whitetail.

He said Tuesday that Kemper aimed its marketing strategy at the Baltimore-Washington area. Jansen will direct his efforts more toward Tri-State area golfers.

Last year, golfers paid $45 and $50 to play a round depending on the day of the week. New rates will be $45 on weekends and $35 during the week.

During the week, foursomes will pay $100, seniors can play for $25 and golfers, if they choose, can walk the course instead of riding in carts. Jansen is planning other programs to reduce costs and bring in golfers.

His goal is to end the season with 25,000 rounds, the number he said he needs to close in the black.

The Borough of Mercersburg created the Mercersburg Borough Authority early in 1999 in the hope of buying Whitetail Ski Resort and the golf course, which at the time were connected, for $41 million.

The deal fell through when Mercersburg failed to get financial backing.

Pennsylvania law allows municipal authorities to float tax-exempt bonds for public and private ventures.

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