By ROCKY STANLEY
The Oaks Golf Course in Flatwoods has new owners and a makeover is under way.
Ironton businessman Hal Newhouser and brother-in-law Bill Kimbley, from Georgia, finalized a deal for the 18-hole layout on Nov. 1.
Newhouser, 55, described both as avid golfers. They are looking forward to rejuvenating a course that showed signs of falling into decline.
“On weekends and when I had free time, I started playing at The Oaks,” Newhouser said. “Probably sometime last year I noticed the course had kind of run down.”
Newhouser, who is employed in the steel industry and owns a restaurant on Ohio State Route 93, began thinking that it would “really be nice to own a course.” He subsequently began discussions with owner Janet Griffith.
Newhouser said he and Kimbley worked since May to get finances in place and iron out details for the purchase.
“Bill and I are extremely excited about the prospects, bringing the thing on,” Newhouser said. “We are excited about the course and what we think we can do there with the support of the people.”
Kimbley, retired from the military, is now living in Flatwoods and oversees the clubhouse. He’s also working on a website for The Oaks.
With any golf course, people who play there naturally take ownership, according to Newhouser.
“That’s what we like,” he said. “We want to cater to people who want to play golf, without going for the real high-end stuff.”
As a "semi-private course," The Oaks sells memberships, but also allows non-members to book tee times and play.
A single annual membership costs $1,100 — golf cart included. Monthly and quarterly rates are also available.
Winter rates are $20 for non-members (with cart).
With early improvements being made to the course, several golfers are helping out with sweat equity.
“If someone works 16 hours, it gets you six rounds of play,” Newhouser said. “We’ve had rave reviews about the changes made.”
Initially, the new owners targeted safety issues such as bridge repair.
Also, Newhouser said the course has been weeded, trees cut back off the fairways, visible markers installed to help expedite play, and repairs made on cart paths.
“That (cart paths) was a big complaint,” he said. “We have plans to surface them. Some of this is going to take some time.”
The course, which originally opened in 1995, has a slope rating of 138.
“We have a driving range that’s been out of service probably four or five years,” Newhouser said. “We’re getting that back in operation.”
Kimbley has organized a scramble for this Saturday to benefit Toys for Tots. The event starts at 11 a.m. Cost is $35 per player; or $30 if you bring a toy. Call the course (833-5565) to enter, or for details.
“We want to do some charity, community-type work,” Newhouser said. “We will have a lot of events. We’re going to solicit local businesses to come out and play.”
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2671.