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Mountain View Country Club golfers seeing many changes

by on September 26, 2013 11:30 AM

BOALSBURG — When owners Martha and Charles McIntyre held the grand re-opening of the Mountain View Country Club, formerly the State College Elks Country Club, they promised changes would be made to the facility and the golf course.

And have they ever risen to the challenge of making changes to the facility and quickly since that announcement in April of this year.

“We purchased the property and started right away to make renovations and have been very busy doing everything,” explained McIntyre, who’s wife Martha is a State College native. “New restrooms, new entrance, new windows, new tile flooring for the patio, handicap restroom, new kitchen with new equipment, new tile flooring in various areas of the club.

“And that does no include all the work we have done on the golf course and what we plan to complete this year,” added McIntyre. “It’s a whole new look at what we feel will be one of the best country clubs in the area and has a landscaping view that no other country club has. We also plan an expansion of the pro shop and add 20 new golf carts with a goal of 60 news ones within the next three years. The synergy is very good and we are putting together golf packages for folks that are staying at the Ramada Inn and who want to play golf and will have a golf outing to go with their hotel stay.”

The idea of the changes to the golf course came after the McIntryes, PGA golf professional Jack Brennan and Dave Heatwole of Heatwole Golf Design Ltd. of State College, played the course and determined which holes should be changed first.

To any one that has played Mountain View, the obvious holes would be No. 5, the infamous birdhouse hole, and No. 13.

Heatwole Golf Design, Ltd. was founded in 2002 by Dave Heatwole after nearly two decades of designing courses for the legendary golfer/designer Jack Nicklaus. While Heatwole still serves as a design consultant for Nicklaus on select courses, he now enjoys the opportunity to create his own designs.

“My design philosophy is to create golf courses with their own unique character,” explained Heatwole.

“Good course design will challenge golfers of various skill levels while creating an enjoyable and memorable playing experience that inspires the golfer to return time and again. The course should challenge the mind and stimulate the senses while remaining sensitive to the natural environment and true to the traditions of the game.”

So with that thought in mind the challenge to create a more golfer-friendly course began following a trip around the golf course by the owners and staff.

“The changes came about after the owners played the course,” explained Brennan. “They really did not like hole No. 5, the bird house hole, where your drive had to go left of the bird house. The hole played to a par-5, 511-yard hole for the average golfer. That was the beginnings of the changes. To make the point clear there was no single reason why this (changes) all happened. The changes were rumored because we are now open to the public that we are going to make the course easier.”

For anyone who has not played the Mountain View course, No. 5 looks like the number seven where the drive is straight down the fairway, past the bird house, and the golfer has to turn right and manage to hit their second shot over the water and uphill to the elevated green.

“Well, the handicaps indicate that the course is not much easier but it did make play maybe a stroke easier now,” Brennan said. “However, we are making some changes to the back nine on hole No. 12 where we are going to lengthen the hole, make it a semi-island green and look for it to be a signature hole.”

With a few changes already in place, the management continued to work to create a more course for golfers of all handicaps.

“What we have done, so far, is make the course play a stroke, stroke and a half easier,” explained Brennan. “But once we lengthen No. 12, the course will gain another stroke so all-in-all when ever all the changes have been completed, I will say the golf course will slightly play easier by maybe a stroke but nothing will be significant.”

With the new management, change was inevitable to all facets of the club house and the golf course.

“The changes all started because of No. 5, the bird house hole, and No. 7 because No. 7 was a par 4 uphill which made it practically impossible for all levels of golfers, including low handicappers,” explained Brennan. “The green was never fair because the green is so sloped and is not receptive to a long iron, mid-iron, a hybrid or fairway wood to come into that green. That green is designed for a short iron and a short club to come into it. So it was unfair so that was the beginning reasons why changes were made.”

Another major change was when holes No. 4 through No. 7 had to be reworked to help avoid any problems with errant shots heading onto Route 322 that bordered the fairway on the short No. 4, a par-4, 295-yard hole.

“Some of the supplementary reasons why there were changes made in the owners mind, was number one, we wanted a course that is slightly more playable for the 10-to-30 handicapper,” said Brennan. “We want to try and make a golf course that was playable for all levels of golfers. And we think we have accomplished that and also we wanted to take, now that we are having more public play, more tournaments, more open play, we wanted to take some of the liability away from hitting from No. 5 tee to No. 6 green. And we were very concerned about balls from the old No. 4 tee out onto state Route 322 highway. With the traffic moving so rapidly on that road and hopefully we will have more golfers in the future but again we are now open to the public at al levels.

“So for all those reasons combined that is why the changes took place,” explained Brennan. “Again, and I can’t stress this enough, there was no one reason. The beginning reason was because we wanted to eliminate the birdhouse hole by USGA and anyone else’s standard No. 5 was a bad golf hole. And No. 7 was also initially reason to make the changes.”

Several years ago some of the former Elks Country Club members also wanted to make changes to the golf course layout but the motion never carried.

“The changes that were made have been talked about and actually even tried to some point in the past by the Elks organization,” Brennan said. “And in speaking to some of the older members, they have said they actually tried some of these changes back in the 1980s but couldn’t come to a agreement within the membership. They couldn’t come to a majority decision on whether it was good or bad. So when there is only one owner sometimes it’s easier to come to an agreement.

“At this point, those were the initiation for the changes,” added Brennan. “To help us with these changes even though they had been talked about for years we have done this all with the assistance and guidance of Heatwole Golf Design Ltd. of State College. He was with the Jack Nicklaus Design Company for seven years and has done over 70 golf courses while assisting Jack Nicklaus all over the world. I think that’s really important to be noted at this point.”

The major changes to the golf course at this point, is No.’s 4 was a par 4 and is now No. 6 and a par 3. No. 5 was a par 5, is now No. 4 and a par 4. No. 6 was a par 4 and is now No. 7 and a par 5. An easier way to describe is No. 4, 5, 6 and 7 is now No. 6, 4, 5 and 7.

The 18-hole former State College Elks Country Club was a semi-private golf course that opened in 1963. Designed by Lowell Erdman, course measured 6,190 yards from the middle tees and has a slope rating of 123 and a 70.9 USGA rating.

The course now plays 5,590 yards and is a par 71.

John covers sports for the Gazette.
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