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Golf course gets new makeover

Courtesy photo This is a shot of No. 16 at the Sunset Golf Club in Huntingdon County.

HUNTINGDON — A familiar Huntingdon County golf course has undergone a sort of a rebirth over the past several months as new owners have taken over the reins of the former Standing Stone golf course, renaming it Sunset Golf Club.

Visitors to the club today have the opportunity to see the tremendous amount of work already completed at the club, which, according to co-owners Pat Collins and Dave Clark, is just the beginning of a five-year plan to make Sunset Golf Club one of the best courses in the area.

While the new owners come from different backgrounds, their diverse skill sets have meshed well.

Collins is a retired school teacher from the Lancaster area who began spending summers in the Huntingdon decades ago. During those years, she became very familiar with the old Standing Stone course, and the area seemed a logical place to settle upon retirement.

“I live just 15 minutes from the course now,” Collins said. “And last summer, when the opportunity arose, I became a co-owner of the club with Dave.”

Clark’s history with the course goes back to the origins of the club itself. The original 200-acre property was a farm owned by Clark’s family.

“I remember running all over this place when I was a kid,” Clark said. “We would chase through the fields, climb the trees and then jump in the river, all the things that kids do.”

By the early 1970s, a group of shareholders, that included Clark’s father, purchased the land to build a golf course. Nationally-known architect Geoffrey Cornish was contracted to design the course, and Standing Stone Golf Club opened for business in 1973.

Over the ensuring decades, the club enjoyed some success, but in recent years the condition of the course was decidedly on the downturn. In 2018, Clark purchased the club with hopes of returning it to its early glory.

A year later, he brought in Collins as a co-owner, and last fall work began at a quick pace.

“Pat is definitely in charge of the day-to-day operations,” Clark said. “She’s a smart, hard-working businesswoman, who doesn’t mind rolling up her sleeves and getting things done.”

Work on the course began last November as Collins began to learn the intricacies of course maintenance, chemical application and other golf course operations. Clark, in the meantime, focused his skills on running the kitchen business.

Together, the changes they’ve made have been significant.

A major clubhouse renovation is currently nearing completion, including a new pro shop, bar area, business office and dining room facility. An adjacent, closed-in patio area is also under construction.

The club has recently leased a new fleet of 60 golf carts and has also made significant investments in course maintenance equipment. Golfers who play the course will quickly see the improvement of course conditions. The entire layout is a healthy shade of green. Gone are the burned-out grassy areas that existed along fairways and greens.

Collins and Clark are quick to mention some of the help they’ve received at the club.

“The members here are very loyal,” Collins said. “They’ve pitched in and worked on so many projects here at the club. They’ve been extremely generous with their time and efforts.”

Like all businesses, the club’s operation was hampered by the COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year. Recent weeks, however, have seen a return to near normal.

Play at the course is up significantly, and the restaurant is now fully open, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. The club currently offers dinner specials on the first and third Fridays of each month, with additional, special events planned as the year goes on.

“We understand that we’re not going to survive on golf alone,” Collins said. “We’re determined in making Sunset Golf Club a year-round operation.”

To get there, the owners have a detailed five-year plan they intend to follow. Projects later this year include additional clubhouse renovations and intensive landscaping work to level-off fairways and tees throughout the course.

Clark, who has a lifetime of memories at the club, is particularly excited to see the many recent improvements.

“It’s fun to see what we’re getting done,” he said. “I liken it to seeing phoenix rising from the ashes.”

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