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Buyers plan upgrades to York County golf course

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Jordan Chronister, left, and Marc Bower represent the second-generation of the new management and ownership team at Grandview Golf Club & Café in Dover Township, York County.
Jordan Chronister, left, and Marc Bower represent the second-generation of the new management and ownership team at Grandview Golf Club & Café in Dover Township, York County. - (Photo / )

When Jordan Chronister was growing up in West York and playing junior golf at one of York County's oldest public courses, the idea of one day owning the course would have been “pretty crazy,” he said.

It is now reality.

The 26-year-old Chronister and his family, including his father Steve, a longtime York County commissioner and real estate professional, and another family are slated to complete the purchase of the 18-hole Grandview Golf Club & Café in Dover Township from its most recent owners, the Barton family, by the end of April.

The Chronisters, who are joined by business partners Greg Bower and his son, Marc, are slated to spend $2.15 million for the course, they said, as the sale was pending.

The soon-to-be new owners took over Grandview’s operations on March 1, and have already instituted a series of upgrades to give a fresh look to the par-72 course, the York area’s only public course until the early 1950s.

Family ties

Jordan Chronister, like his dad and late grandfather before him, has played many times on the course at the 90-acre property on Carlisle Road.

The grandfather, “Hod” Chronister, had been the golf pro and greens superintendent at the course back in the 1960s and ‘70s. And Steve Chronister, who was a York County commissioner from 2004 to 2015, often played 36 to 54 holes a day there.

“So there’s definitely a lot of history here just with those two,” Jordan Chronister noted.

Last August at Grandview, the Chronister family opened the second York County location for BrewVino, the family-operated restaurant, which serves gourmet pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and regionally-brewed craft beers.

The first BrewVino opened two and a half years ago in downtown York.

Trends in number of rounds played on the upswing

Amid concerns about the sport’s decline, much attention has been given in recent years to the amount of golf being played.

Data shows the numbers are improving.

Annual data from Golf Datatech 2016 revealed a slight increase of 0.6 percent in the number of rounds played between 2015 and 2016.

And for the first two months of 2017, year-to-date data shows an increase of 2.6 percent – marking gains in January of 5.2 percent and in February of 0.6 percent. Golf Datatech has collected information on the number of rounds played and produced charts of monthly results since 1999.

Golf Datatech’s data also takes into account temperatures and precipitation. Historically, warmer temperatures have translated into more rounds played, with a 1-degree increase in temperature resulting in a 0.76 percent increase in rounds. Precipitation has a larger impact, with increased precipitation causing a decrease in the number of rounds being played. There is a 2.2 percent decrease in the number of rounds played for every inch of rain recorded.

Golf Datatech also looks at the rounds played for public courses versus private courses. This year is already showing a higher year-to-date yield at private courses than 2016, up 4.5 percent. The number of rounds played at private clubs last year was down 0.6 percent.

— Jennifer Sharpe, BridgeTower Media

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Steve Chronister, who has heard estimates that 30,000 vehicles a day go by the Grandview club on Carlisle Road, northwest of York, had been leasing the BrewVino space at Grandview from the Bartons.

“Getting that moving, and now taking steps toward (opening) the golf course has kept us busy. But it’s fun seeing all of the things come together and having our family be a part of it,” Jordan Chronister said.

Golf on an upswing?

Steve Chronister, who’s now 64, feels that “golf’s definitely coming back, especially with public golf courses.”

At Grandview, he said, “while we can make money, we also want keep it affordable for people to play golf, while also making it feel like a country club. We want people to say, ‘This is what we see when we watch the Golf Channel or when we play the country club as a guest,’” he said.

Brian Dolachek is the general manager of the property. A State College native who now lives in Dover, Dolachek recently spelled out some of the improvements being made at Grandview.

They include new golf carts, new pins and flags at the holes, plus weed control on the fairways and treating the ponds to improve the water.

“Instead of it looking mucky at the end of the year, it will look pretty through the whole year,” Dolachek said.

Grandview also has bought three new greens mowers and is considering buying a fairway mower to “make the fairways look a lot nicer, be a cleaner cut,” he said.

Dolachek said on a recent sunny spring day that being at a golf course “is not a bad view.” He oversees nearly 40 employees, 30 of them at BrewVino and 10 who oversee course operations.

Steve Chronister provides a tip on golf stance to grandnephew Lawson Leeper at Grandview Golf Club.
Steve Chronister provides a tip on golf stance to grandnephew Lawson Leeper at Grandview Golf Club. - ()

Steve Chronister said he and the other new owners will use a loan from PeoplesBank to improve Grandview. He didn’t give the amount, but said, “it’s not a tremendous amount of money. It really isn’t going to take a lot to get it back to being a good course.”

The move to buy the Grandview course comes as golf is enjoying a resurgence, the Chronisters said, led by young stars on the PGA tour like Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy,

Jordan Chronister, who lives in Manchester Township, sees that wave washing over Grandview.

“It seems like we’re seeing new faces every day,” he said.

Highlights for 2017 at Grandview include the 60th annual “Grandview 4-Ball” tournament on the weekend of June 3-4, with qualifying on Friday, June 2. The course also is introducing new summer rates this year for teachers who want to play some summer golf, Chronister said.

Other plans are in the works, including a new “19th hole” spot to get a beer or a drink after playing and adding a new driving range as soon as 2018, Steve Chronister added.

“This will stay a golf course,” he also vowed, emphasizing there are no plans to convert the spacious, hilly open area into a housing development or other buildings.

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David O'Connor

David O'Connor

Dave O'Connor covers York County, manufacturing, higher education, nonprofits, and workforce development. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at doconnor@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @DaveOC_CPBJ.

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