Located off Route 50 between Salisbury and Ocean City, Deer Run Golf Club has catered to first-time golfers and dedicated players alike for more than 15 years.
Founded in 1997, Deer Run Golf Club features a unique, 19-hole, par 73 layout that can challenge high-caliber players while remaining accessible to novices, according to owner Ed Colbert.
“We stress family and fun. We have five sets of tees so all levels of skill can play here,” he said.
Originally designed as a 27-hole course, Deer Run saw major alterations within a few years of opening.
“We made it into a championship golf course,” Colbert said. “That happened in 1999.”
After receiving the United States Golfing Association (USGA) championship designation, Deer Run whittled down the original 27 holes to the current 19, expanding several and converting some of the remaining holes into a large chipping and putting green as well as a driving range. Despite its proximity to Route 50, the course is tucked away and offers natural play, said Colbert.
“When I bought the land, it was an old farm, a soybean and corn farm. We built the golf course and have been improving it ever since,” he said.
Some future improvements that Deer Run is looking toward include a new clubhouse and a potential RV park. Colbert and his wife own the 112-acre parcel adjacent to the course and have been considering the addition of an RV park for several years.
“We have all of the permits to build an RV park. They’re all approved through the county,” he said. “We’ve had those permits for a couple years, but we haven’t built because of the economy. We hope that the economy improves enough that we can do something across there on that property.”
Likewise, a new club house has been on hold until the recession winds down, something Colbert hopes to see within the next few years.
In the meantime, Deer Run is focused on expanding its membership. A popular stop for vacationers on their way to Ocean City, Colbert would like to see more regulars signing on with the course. This has led to the beginning of an “aggressive” membership drive this summer.
“I try to build relationships with my members and my regulars … we’re known as the friendliest golf course down here,” he said. “That’s our brand. That’s in our business statement.”
Colbert applies a business edge honed in “corporate America” to all aspects of running the course.
“I come from Washington D.C. I worked for corporate America. I was a general manager for Boeing, the airplane people,” he said. “And when I retired, I had a great passion for golf.”
The competition in the area can be tough, Colbert admitted, especially given how seasonal visitors are to the shore. But he believes that Deer Run’s unconventional layout and flexibility for causal and dedicated golfers has helped it earn a niche in the community. One other area where the course excels is in hosting tournaments, especially charity events, Colbert added.
“If somebody wants to run a charity tournament, I can raise more money for them here than anybody else,” he claimed. “It’s proven over and over again.”
Also located at Deer Run is the Bob Beckelman Golf Academy, which has been offering lessons and game analysis at the course since it was founded.