For years, Skytop Mountain Golf Club was known as “Freestone.”
It got that name because of the amount of rocks that could be found in fairways due to the course being on the side of a mountain.
It wasn’t until 2012 when the course began to see drastic changes for the good.
“We had a big stigma,” head golf professional Jeremy Crawford said. “It wasn’t a nice golf course. If you could even call it a golf course at all. Since then, we’ve sunk a lot of money into the place. Mike Stine and Adam Powers, the superintendent and assistant superintendent, have done a fantastic job.”
Crawford took his post with Skytop in February. However, it is his second stint in Centre County.
The Indiana, Pa., native worked for Elks Country Club and was there when it transitioned to Mountain View Country Club. He also served some time as an assistant golf coach for Penns Valley Area High School. He left for Chambersburg Country Club before returning back to the county.
“I love the area. I love Skytop,” Crawford said. “When I worked at Mountain View and the Elks, I came to play here and it was the first time I played here. I loved it. I’ve always been a big fan of mountain courses. It’s absolutely beautiful, and that’s what brought me back.”
Crawford made an immediate effect in his return. At the beginning of May, Skytop started offering GolfBoards to become just the third course in the state to offer them.
“I wanted to be innovative in the industry,” Crawford explained. “Golf is a luxury. People don’t need to golf or have to golf. You have to stay ahead of the game and offer services one step above the competition to set yourself apart from everybody else.”
GolfBoards are an environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative to the traditional golf cart. They differ very much from a golf cart.
They haul just one person and their bag. With two different speeds, it can go as high as 12 mph.
They are four-wheel drive with each wheel being powered by a 1,000-rpm motor. To put that into perspective, a golf cart has just one 1,000-rpm motor for the whole cart.
On one charge, the boards can last 36 holes. They run on lithium batteries that power most luxury electric cars. They require little maintenance, and Crawford said they can be fully charged in two hours.
To quote the company’s website, GolfBoards allow golfers to “Surf the Earth.”
Crawford mentioned that the course has seen an influx of new faces. He said that some guys have traveled as far as 2 1/2 hours just to play a round of golf on the boards. Crawford looks at the GolfBoards as a way to make a name for Skytop
“Skytop wasn’t branded,” he explained. “Everybody knows Toftrees and Penn State, but nobody knows Skytop Mountain. We’ve been the best kept secret in Centre County since 2012. We don’t want to be that secret anymore. We want to be known.”
“It’s very popular. People talk about us because of it.”
If you’re a person that doesn’t have great coordination, the boards are easy to maneuver. Golfers ride them as if it’s a surfboard or skateboard. The stability bar on the front allows for control. In order to turn, you just have to shift your weight from the balls of your feet to your heels. It’s something that Crawford said people find easy to learn.
“If you have no coordination or no athletic ability in yourself, it will take you a maximum of nine holes to get the hang of it,” he said. “If you can throw a ball up in the air, it will take you a maximum of two holes.”
Traditionalists of the sport probably laugh at the GolfBoards. They also must think it is a way to appeal to the younger generation of golfers. When asked if that was the case, Crawford had an immediate response.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “I don’t want everybody to think that you have to be a young person to be able to enjoy it. It is very stable and very safe for anyone of all ages and all genders.”
Crawford said they have had a golfer as old as 83 rent one and he has done it twice. A member of the course in his 60s decided that anytime they golf they will only take the GolfBoards and nothing else.
With reviews like that, it could become a problem for the course. It has just four in the fleet right now. However, there are plans to get more GolfBoards but not until the distant future.
“There are other projects that take priority over getting more GolfBoards,” Crawford said. “For instance, we are going to redo every single one of our bunkers. We are going to get all new tee signs that show the whole hole layouts.”