Nebraska family buys two shuttered golf courses, revives them

When Mike Wieck got a call last spring to come work on a piece of land across the street from the state fairgrounds in Grand Island, Neb., he ended buying the parcel instead of leveling it for a housing development.

When he arrived at the site with his land leveler, he realized it was the old Fonner View Golf Course – closed for the previous two years.

“It was a good location, and it was a nice 9 holes, a tight 9 holes, and I figured we should save it – so I talked him out of developing it,” Wieck said. After purchasing the course, he and his family have spent the last 9 months preparing it for its planned reopening on March 29. The Par 3 course (just 1,966 yards) was built in 1968, with a Bill Barge design.

While that’s a heart-warming tale of a local businessman stepping up and saving a beloved local track, it doesn’t stop there. Last September, the nearby city of Wood River, Neb., decided to auction off its 9-hole municipal course – a 140-acre tract about 17 miles west of Fonner View. The winning bidder at the February auction?

The Wieck family.

The family (Mike, his brothers Brian and Mark, and their parents, Michael and Roswitha, plus spouses and older children) are now all working to get the two courses ready for the pending golf season in the Midwest.

Wood River was still operated by the city through 2018, closing in November at the end of golf season. But Fonner View had been shuttered for several years, and the greens needed to be rebuilt.

“We planted them on Aug. 15, and we had them ready to go by the last weekend in October,” Wieck said. “But we’ve kept everyone off until opening day.”

While they had a cold winter in central Nebraska, he said there was enough snow cover to keep the greens from freezing through, and everything looks good.

Fonner View’s clubhouse reopened last July, and has been open all winter, with dart boards and billiards tables. There’s a liquor license, too, and he said they’ve kept busy.

The family won’t get final title for Wood River for a few more weeks (the auction was on Feb. 28), and he said a lot of the clubhouse furnishings and kitchen equipment needed replacing. Wood River has a larger clubhouse than Fonner View, and they’re going to make one of the rooms into a video arcade. Both courses have driving ranges, and the family is offering a joint membership plan for the two clubs. To encourage cross-over play, the men’s and women’s clubs will alternate at Fonner View and Wood River, so that folks can participate in the respective club at both courses if they like.

Wood River, which opened in 1968, is a longer course, at 3,100 yards. The city of Wood River took it over five years ago, but was unable to get its operations to break even.

Wieck has associates degrees in golf course management and commercial horticulture, although he’s yet to use either degree professionally. His brother, Brian, has 30 years’ experience in the restaurant business, so he said the family’s background allows them “to put their best foot forward.”

For now, both courses are being staffed with family members but they may hire more staff as needed once they’re up and running.

 

Comments

Perfect Family combination to run golf courses.

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