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October 2019

It Takes a Village

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Renovations Invigorate White Bluff Resort

By Sally J. Sportsman

White Bluff Resort has a new lease on life. With new ownership, leadership and management, the destination, overlooking Lake Whitney in Whitney, Texas, is attracting visitors in greater numbers than ever. Renovations to the two golf courses as well as refurbishments to the restaurant, pro shops and lodging are ushering in a new era.

“It’s a gorgeous property,” says Mike Hicks, general manager of amenities at White Bluff Resort. “There’s nothing flat in the Texas Hill Country,” including the aura of excitement surrounding the new-and-improved version of this beloved resort.

Centrally located between the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and Austin, White Bluff Resort is a planned, gated residential community and destination resort on 3,450 acres, with four miles of prime shoreline along Lake Whitney. The gently rolling hills and plentiful trees, along with roaming deer, extend as far as the eye can see. Complementing the golf courses and restaurant are a spa, conference center, marina, swimming pools, lodging and other amenities. RV parks and campgrounds also are part of the one-stop resort.

Developed and previously owned by Double Diamond Resorts, White Bluff Resort changed hands late last year, due to differences of opinion between the ownership and the property owners, who now own the property amenities. When the resort was closed down two years ago, Hicks says, the property owners coalesced, volunteering to try to take care of the golf courses. The sale of the amenities to the Property Owners Association was completed last December.

There are over 4,000 property owners, according to Hicks, representing 500 permanent homes – some of which are built on three lots – and some undeveloped lots. The ownership change is bearing fruit.

“Home values have gone up already,” Hicks says. “When the golf courses were closed, as many as 65 homes were for sale; now there are six.”

The Old and New Courses, designed by 13-time PGA Tour winner Bruce Lietzke, have been renovated extensively at a cost of $1.5 million. They feature new greens, including total replacement to Tifeagle Bermuda, and new sand in the bunkers to improve drainage. A driving range, chipping green, practice bunker and putting green complete the golf facilities. The New Course reopened August 30, and the Old Course was expected to reopen in late September.

“Our customers include not only our homeowners, but many people who drive in from around Texas and surrounding areas to enjoy the resort,” says Hicks. “People also boat or water ski into the resort.”

Pricing is more affordable now than previously. For example, the weekend rate for either golf course, including cart, is $55, whereas before it was $85. White Bluff Resort does its own social media program and email communications, and maintains its own website through its corporate office. A marketing company is contracted for advertising and other initiatives. White Bluff is managed by Arcis Advantage, the management division of Dallas-based Arcis Golf.

Floods, droughts and a fire have been part of the history of White Bluff Resort, says Hicks, but the future looks bright now.
“This is my second stint at this beautiful place,” says Hicks, who arrived at White Bluff in 2000 as director of golf and departed in 2004 as general manager. “Arcis and the property owners brought me back.”

Marshall Snyder, who has owned a home at White Bluff Resort since 2014, says the new ownership arrangement “is a good marriage. The POA is focused on its constituents: property owners and homeowners.

“We intend to continue operating the resort, because as a nonprofit, we see it as a way to fund our development and activities. We know that reinvestment is required, and we have committed to that.
“The future looks rosy.”

Sally J. Sportsman is an Orlando, Florida-based freelance golf writer.

 

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