MILTON — Citizens, veterans, and current military took to the Frank W. Dahlinger golf course at Naval Air Station Whiting Field June 1, 2015 for the course’s last tournament ever. That Monday was the last official day the course was open. Before the start of the tournament, former Commander Captain Todd Bahlau told the 96 participants assembled, the tourney supported the Navy ball, but closing the golf course was in the top three of tough decisions he had to make. Thirty-four pages of signatures on a petition were not enough to keep the course open.
The course itself first opened with just nine holes in 1948. The second set of nine was added in 1965, constructed by Navy Seabees. Most notable about the course is its record holder, two-time Masters Champion Bubba Watson with a record of 62.
The course’s namesake, Commander Frank W. Dahlinger, assumed command of Training Squadron Three June 14, 1985. A Nashville native, Dahlinger was a Vanderbilt University grad in electrical engineering and was commissioned June 1967 through NROTC.
He became a naval aviator November of 1968 and was a P-3 Orion pilot. He reported as XO of VT-3 June 1984, but was attached temporarily to TAW-5.
Dahlinger died April 18, 1986 when his T-34 crashed in Summerdale, Alabama Airfield. He was the 20th commanding officer of VT-3 and posthumously presented a meritorious service medal.
The heyday of the course was around the mid 60s to 70s, when the course expanded. It took a dive when Whiting Field removed housing on base. Former Public Affairs Officer Jay Cope said the federal government dropping subsidies for such facilities meant it would have to sustain itself, something it has not done for years.
The two-level snack bar, Mulligan’s Grill, remains open, according to current Public Affairs Officer Julie Ziegenhorn.
"It still looks really nice," she said.
Those on base use it for jogging and biking.