Center Stage is a new series that spotlights individuals who continue to support the GAP Central Series.
Bags packed. Reservations made.
Gary Dolan’s ready for his golf getaway to Myrtle Beach, S.C. His mind, to the reporter’s delight, is focused on golf as he fields a phone call to talk fairways and greens.
“Like so many others, I feel like a caged animal. But I bust out of my cage tonight, as a matter of fact,” Dolan, 56, of Lock Haven, Pa., said. “I’m just ready to roll. This is the main golf trip. It turns into tournaments from there on out.”
The GAP Central Series makes up a sizeable chunk of that tournament schedule. Dolan, a Belles Springs Golf Course member, is an ardent supporter.
“Let me say this about the GAP Central Series, and [GAP Director of Central Operations] Joe Faust especially. He puts his heart into it. He does a great job running it. He’s always hyping it up,” Dolan, a Belles Springs Golf Course member, said. “We’re always trying to spread that word. It’s a great time with great competition. I’ve enjoyed the GAP Central Series. It’s been fun.”
The fun started in high school. Dolan, during his senior year at Waverly Junior and Senior High School in Waverly, N.Y., accompanied his father, Vince, to Soaring Eagles Golf Course in Horseheads, N.Y. More rounds piled up when Gary went to Kettering College in Kettering, Ohio. He met golf compatriot — and future best man — Ned Velasco there.
“We started playing golf together. It’s one of those things that gets you,” Dolan said. “For someone who loves sports and loves to play anything and everything in general, golf just really grabbed a hold of me. I knew right away that it was just a lifelong game. Golf gives you something to compete for a long time. That’s another big draw. We all know those shots that keep us coming back.”
Dolan returned to his East Coast roots after college. His family moved to Montoursville, Pa. after Vince accepted a position at Lycoming Engines in Williamsport, Pa. Gary’s wife Kristy, a dietician, landed at UPMC Lock Haven.
“We just missed the East Coast. We just missed the hills of home and everything that went with it,” Dolan said. “You kind of get tired of seeing all the way across Indiana, out there in Western Ohio.”
Dolan also found a new golf home in Belles Springs. He adores the people — and the putting surfaces — there.
“The guys and gals are great. Everybody is just pretty close,” Dolan said. “From a golf perspective, Belles Springs has the best greens. I’ve played a bunch in Central Pennsylvania. In the spring and in the fall, those greens historically have just been perfect.”
When reflecting on his golf history, Dolan pauses briefly before citing a moment he’ll never forget. A rare round with Vince and brothers Mike and Ron — at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. no less.
“Dad had his first and only hole-in-one there. It was just crazy,” Gary said. “After that hole-in-one, he didn’t pick the sticks up ever again. It was just a few short years after that he developed and passed away from ALS.”
Vince, by introducing his son to golf, opened a passion that drives Gary to this day.
“I’m looking for every opportunity to compete, playing locally and still in New York. One of my best buddies from high school (Ted Darrow) is my main partner for any two-man best-ball tournaments,” Dolan said. “I try to do something every day if I can find the time, whether it’s 15 minutes on the putting green or on the range. I don’t get a chance to do many recreational rounds; It’s mostly either tournaments or practice time. There’s just nothing like being outdoors and feeling those shots.”
Dolan serves as the Director of Facilities at The Village at Penn State, a retirement community in State College, Pa. Fortunately, residents and staff members alike felt shots as in COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Being in healthcare, we got vaccinated fairly early on. Our first vaccination was the first week of January,” Dolan said. “It’s been a tumultuous year.”
That Myrtle Beach trip is right on time.