Waterville to reopen

Refurbished public golf course is ready for swingers on Friday

By JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Posted 7/23/15

It will be a hole-in-one for Stone Fort Inc. and Henry Luken on Friday, as they open Waterville Golf Course within their projected timeline.

While the fairways seem in good shape, the greens were …

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Waterville to reopen

Refurbished public golf course is ready for swingers on Friday

Posted

It will be a hole-in-one for Stone Fort Inc. and Henry Luken on Friday, as they open Waterville Golf Course within their projected timeline.

While the fairways seem in good shape, the greens were beyond help the golf course operator said.

“The greens are dead, so there was nothing we could really do except make them playable, and they are as playable as (they can be),” Luken said. “They have dyed them, cut them down, then laid them flat, so they could play on them. The rest of the golf course is in good shape. … It is in amazing shape, considering what it was.”

When the Cleveland City Council approved Luken’s lease, grass and weeds were growing shoulder high on the fairways. Now, the grass is back to golf course length.

Luken had anticipated it would take 60 days to have the course ready to open. Sixty days would have been Aug. 1.

Prices for day play are being lowered to make up for the condition of the greens.

Starting out, the cost will be $15 a day and $20 on the weekends.

“When the greens get completely done, and I am completely happy, we will go to normal pricing here, but that will probably not be until the spring,” Luken said.

The team who will manage the golf course is still being assembled. Luken said he would begin hiring six to eight part-time employees Friday.

Luken will also be looking for a team leader to run the pro shop.

“We are hoping to find somebody local. We are bringing in people from our other courses temporarily,” Luken said.

He is looking for someone who will provide the level of customer service desired.

“We don’t like having automated tee times. We don’t want to do the Web for any of that. We actually want to talk to the person,” Luken said.

Luken said he approaches running the course a little differently than some other golf course owners.

“We are a little different, in that we separate the inside and the outside,” he said.

The teams outside take care of the course and its needs, while the inside team handles the pro shop. Having golfers call when they want to schedule a tee time means someone can explain any maintenance at the course that may affect play.

The course will be open to the public as well as members, making membership at Waterville optional.

Having courses with public access makes golf opportunities available to a larger group of people.

“The game in the past was sort of an elitist game, a long time ago, and for it to survive it needs to be more achievable to more normal, more middle class folks. That is what I am trying to do,” Luken said. “It’s a fun enough game I think everyone should be able to enjoy it, within the balance of them at least being able to pay enough for the cost of doing it.”

The least expensive membership is about $131 a month, including tax. A family membership would be $230 a month, including tax. There are also corporate membership rates available. Senior memberships, for those 60 and older, are $30 off any “non-discounted plan.” Cart use is $4.

“Membership is optional. That is something that gives them the ability to go play at the other golf courses,” Luken said.

Membership also includes access to the swimming pools and tennis courts at Luken’s other facilities.

“If I can find room around here ... this one (Waterville) is one where we would like to have a pool and tennis courts as well,” Luken said.

In anticipation of future plans, Luken is in talks with an adjoining property owners about purchasing their land. Luken said the additional space would allow a driving range to be added to the facility.

Right now, Luken is in a five-year lease agreement with the city, with the option to renew for another five years. The contract approved a lease amount of $36,000 a year. The lease also states requirements the company must follow in order to protect the spring that is on site. The spring is used to supply water to Cleveland Utilities.

Eventually, he hopes the city will allow him to purchase the course, so he can overhaul the clubhouse.

“We use raised wood panel,” Luken said “We go to all current LED lighting.”

A permanent phone number for Waterville Golf Course is in the works. Until then those needing information can call Valleybrook, another of Luken’s golf courses, at 423-842-4646.

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