New, local owners took over Greencastle Golf Club and Fireside Pub on Jan. 1 and are already receiving enthusiastic support from the community.
They recently compiled a three-page list of mainly cosmetic changes to the 18-hole championship course set on 212 acres that opened in 1992, but the clubhouse is in line for a major overhaul.
Ron Powers is a retired educator and his wife, Beth, a Greencastle-Antrim Middle School teacher, is retiring this year. About a year and a half ago, they got the idea that owning the course, where their son, Ben, is the golf pro, would be a neat project.
Although it was not for sale, they approached the owner, but were too far apart on the price. That gap closed last summer and they decided they needed partners, bringing in friends and fellow Greencastle residents Dave and Jen Swam. He is in sales, with his own business representing kitchen cabinet manufacturers, and she teaches second-grade in Hagerstown.
Mark White, the golf course superintendent with 20 years of experience in turf management, rounds out the team. Both he and Ben Powers first worked at Greencastle Golf Club in their teens and have been back on the staff for about two years.
"We have the key grounds person and golf person, we need to get the rest established," Beth Powers said. "There's a lot of potential and a lot to do. We're very enthusiastic, but we have to hold ourselves back."
The group has two mantras: "Building community within our community" and "Redefining public golf."
A grand opening is being planned for March 16 when restaurant hours expand and golf season officially begins.
*** In the clubhouse ***
The Fireside Pub grew out of the snack shack and opened at the golf course last year. It is a key component of the revamped clubhouse, where it currently shares space on the upper level with the pro shop.
The pro shop will be moved to the lower level, which is underused, Dave Swam explained. The plan also includes adding space for hot dogs, beverages and packaged snacks; a lounge for golfers with couches, chairs and TVs; a putting green and a swing simulator. What is currently kitchen storage will be turned into club storage so members can leave their equipment at the course.
Upstairs, the kitchen will be expanded and the bar moved to the former site of the pro shop.
Sunrise, sunset and the all-day view of Greencastle from the clubhouse's hillside location off Williamson Road are reasons to offer outside dining on the wrap-around porch, while a patio with gas fireplace will be added on one side, along with ambient lighting.
A soft opening since the beginning of the year has brought wing night on Wednesdays, taco night on Thursdays and additions to the menu. Eventually, entrees will be added to the pub menu, along with events like date night and family night. The pub recently hosted a paint night and a Valentine's activity for kids and Super Bowl event are in the works for this weekend.
The pub is currently open Wednesdays through Sundays and alcohol is still being served while the liquor license ownership is being transferred.
"We didn't realize the pub would be so popular," Jen Swam said. "This past weekend we had two cooks, two servers and a busboy and everyone was hopping."
"Everyone who's come in has been tickled pink with what we're trying to do," Dave Swam said. "This community wants to see this place thrive."
His wife added, "We've had lots of support from the Greencastle community. Everyone is so positive and understanding while we're seeing what works and what doesn't."
*** On the course ***
It may be winter, but weather-permitting players can golf seven days a week. Last Saturday, some 100 people took to the course.
In keeping with their mantra, the new owners want their golfers to have "a private experience for a public price" in terms of customer service.
"Mark's done fantastic things since he got here, but there are some cosmetic things we want to clean up," Ben Powers said. "Overall there are great playing conditions."
Multiple tee boxes make the course attractive to players of all levels, who can practice their game at the driving range, putting green and chipping green.
Ben Powers has put together packages for everyone from juniors to seniors; offers services such as club fitting and swing analysis; and has organized a variety of clinics, camps and leagues. Greencastle Golf Club also is the home course for the Greencastle-Antrim High School and Grace Academy golf teams.
"I like this place, I have an attachment to it and I want to see it succeed," Ben Powers said.
Greencastle Golf Club and Fireside Pub can be reached at 717-597-1188, on Facebook and at greencastlegolf.com