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South Williamsport, PA
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White Deer Visiting

As I made the right turn heading south on US Route 15 to turn onto the road leading to White Deer Golf course, some unpleasant flashbacks entered my mind. To be sure, the public golf course treated me very well when, as the executive director of the Lycoming County United Way, we held several very

As I made the right turn heading south on US Route 15 to turn onto the road leading to White Deer Golf course, some unpleasant flashbacks entered my mind. To be sure, the public golf course treated me very well when, as the executive director of the Lycoming County United Way, we held several very successful fundraising tournaments there. But the memories I was reflecting upon were not those of an administrator, rather those of a golfer, and a very bad one at that.

To regular readers of this column, there most likely exists some surprise to see any mention of golf occupying this space. There is good personal reason for that omission; my golfing past has not been a pleasant experience. Athletically, I loved the spirit of competition that team sports — baseball, basketball, and football — had provided as I advanced through my playing days. Being somewhat proficient in those sports, the inadequacies that defined ‘my link career’ are best to be forgotten.

When I assumed the responsibilities of a new job dealing with marketing and public relations for the GRIT Publishing Group many years ago, I soon discovered that I would be required to engage with clients on the golf course. Oh, the fear of it. Most people develop nerves and sweat when required to do some public speaking. For me, the same reaction occurs when there is a golf club in my hand.

I still vividly recall coming home quite angry after yet another miserable golfing experience. My wife, Jean, innocently asked how I had done.

Storming into the house, my one-word response was “terrible.”

“How many balls did you lose?” she asked.

“Two, but what does that have to do with anything?” I responded.

“Well, if you only lost two balls, that wasn’t bad,” she reasoned.

Still fuming, I answered, “Jean, if your shots only go 50 yards down the fairway, you aren’t going to lose many balls!”

Luckily, hundreds of people find their White Deer Golf Course experiences much more pleasant, as was alluded to by course manager Justin Dahin during a recent visit.

“Unlike most businesses and organizations that were hit so hard by all the restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, that dark cloud had somewhat of a silver lining for the golf business,” Dahin explained. “As an outdoor activity, golf was one of the few things that was open that people could get out and enjoy. Last summer into the fall, golf interest thrived, and we experienced record highs in course usage. At one point, demand was so high that we couldn’t keep merchandise and equipment in stock.”

Dahin, who has been in the golf business since he was 15 and has managed golf courses since 2013, is settling into his new position since arriving at White Deer in March. Previously, he managed a golf course north of Detroit until an opportunity arose with Indigo Golf Partners to relocate to White Deer.

“As a public golf course, White Deer offers so much more than other places I’ve been. In addition to the two 18-hole courses (Vintage & Heritage), we have a practice area, putting green, a par three course, and a full-service restaurant and bar. During the height of COVID, we saw a 50% increase in course usage, and although those figures have leveled off a bit, business has been very good.”

Asked to highlight any changes undertaken since his arrival, Dahin’s face sported a bright smile.

“Perhaps the most noticeable is the new carts. We have a brand-new fleet of 144 golf carts that have completely replaced the older carts we had been using. This came at a good time, as during the COVID restrictions, we were required to use single rider carts. That is no longer the case, and the golfers are enjoying the new carts.

“We are also fine-tuning our 4-seasons program, which is located at the turn between holes 9 & 10. Renovations are underway to the kitchen, snack window, and seating areas which make it convenient for golfers while they are on the course.”

Readers may be surprised to learn that White Deer also offers both foot and disc golf that are open to the public at no cost. Footgolf allows players ‘to play golf using a soccer ball kicked into the holes, while disc golf is played with a Frisbee type disc thrown into baskets to score. Reservations are not required to take part in those activities.

With more than 400 card-carrying members and 60 employees, White Deer is open from 6:00 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. to golfers of any ability. Membership fees range from $500 to $1,100 — cost for non-members for a round of golf range from $47 on weekends to $39 afternoon. Reduced rates are available for some off-peak times.

“For anyone that has not been here lately, I invite them to come over and experience what White Deer has to offer,” Dahin said. “Many folks take part in the various fundraising tournaments that are held here, which approximately 90% have returned since the COVID restrictions. But whether you are a golfer or just want to socialize and enjoy a meal, we’d be glad to have you.”

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