Sitting in the clubhouse of the White Pine Golf Course, owner, operator and course pro Randy Long can’t help but reflect on the unique feeling of playing the nation’s “most remote 18-holes.”
“When you are out there, whether its the morning sunlight over the mountains, or the evening sun setting behind the hills, it is just peaceful,” Long said.
After being a course pro in Reno for 14 years, Long took a chance and moved his family to Ely in 2004. Now, headed into his 11th year, he couldn’t be happier with the progress the course has made.
“The course itself is in the best shape it has ever been in,” he said.
It is not just the course that has benefitted either. Overall the course is up year over year in rounds played, the club’s membership keeps growing and tournaments are booked almost every weekend during the summer. The course recently hosted its biggest tournament of the year, welcoming the Robinson Nevada Mining Co. employees. It’s a lot for Long to handle, but he loves every second of it.
“Most weekends I only get between six to eight hours of sleep but this is what I love to do,” he said. “Besides, on a 16-hour work day, you’ll still sometimes catch me out there hitting a bucket of balls. I always laugh when someone walks up and asks if this is all I do.”
In addition to running the course, Long is also the White Pine High School golf team’s coach, which produced a state champion in Chris Young this year. He also still gives private lessons by appointment. He said that none of that would have been possible without the support of his family and members of the community.
“We’ve gotten more support from this town. Businesses even donated the chairs that we use in our lobby now, I couldn’t be more grateful,” Long said.
One of the things important to him has been cultivating a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, both on and off the course.
“I think we make people comfortable,” Long said. “For example, when I first took over, we were having problems with kids stealing or tampering with the golf carts. I lowered the driving age to 11 years old and set up a class for the kids to take, along with the parents supervision, to teach them how to drive. Since then, I haven’t had anyone mess with the carts in over six years.”
So what’s next for the busy owner?
“I want to get better signage so that more people who pass through town will know they can stop here and play a round,” Long said. “It’s not quite the nicest or fanciest course anyone will ever play on, but to me, its perfect.”