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Golf course scores a birdie in Lycoming County

WILLIAMSPORT — It was good news from the golf course as for the first time in many years, management at the county-owned White Deer Golf Course came bearing money for the county instead of bad news.

“We’ve been overseeing the golf course now for six years. It’s been a long road, but a lot of fun, too,” said Chris Strand, regional manager of Indigo Sports, which manages White Deer.

“You know (we) adopted a course that had its financial struggles, but it’s exciting today to say that a golf course now for four years hasn’t borrowed a dollar from the county. Now we’re at a point where we’re self-sustaining,” Strand said.

Strand delivered the positive news along with a check for $25,000 for the county at the meeting of the Lycoming County Commissioners Tuesday.

“We’re continuing to do our necessary improvements and now you have $25,000 back to the county,” Strand said.

When Indigo took over management of the golf course, the operation was losing a couple of thousand dollars a year and had a debt of $300,000, according to Strand. He also mentioned other debts that were taken on when his group assumed management of the course.

“Let’s say we had a million-dollar hole just to get started six years ago, so it’s now exciting to have money in the bank and be able to start giving back,” he said.

Last year outdoor furniture at the golf course was replaced. In October, the commissioners approved the first payment on new golf carts for White Deer.

“There were golf carts that were falling apart and the (golf) clubs were falling off the carts and being damaged,” Commissioner Scott Metzger said.

“It’s set up for good success going forward and we’re in a good position,” Strand said.

“It’s a lot more fun to talk about where can we go spend some things and do some things and get some money back than trying to get out of the hole, where we were years ago,” he added.

Thanking the taxpayers for their patience, Commissioner Rick Mirabito acknowledged that it’s been a “hard road.”

“It’s always been a controversial issue. On both sides we have meeting where we have 60 people come out and say keep the golf course and we can probably find anther 60 who say get rid of the golf course,” Mirabito said. “At the end of the day, it’s got to be positive for our people who live and work here that there is a public course that they don’t have to join a country club to be able to play golf. It has to be an asset to people who look at our community as a place to live, especially in retirement, that we have a public asset.”

Addressing Strand, Commissioner Tony Mussare admitted, “It was tough … you used your expertise to turn this all around.”

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