Grand Island family revives community’s golf course
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — It was going to take a lot of work to turn a weed-filled chunk of land back into a golf course, but it was an opportunity that Mike Wieck couldn’t pass up.
The Fonner View Golf Course in Grand Island had been closed for about two years and was on the verge of being turned into a residential development when Wieck decided to buy it.
Wieck, who works in land leveling, was asked by the course’s previous owner to start moving dirt to make way for houses.
“I talked him out of it. I told him he couldn’t destroy the golf course. We had to keep it,” he said.
Though he had no experience owning a golf course himself, Wieck got his family on board and bought Fonner View.
“It was out of the blue,” he told the Grand Island Independent about the decision to purchase the business. “We are either going to save it or it will become a housing development. Usually if something becomes a housing development, it never goes back.”
Fonner View opened again last July under the Wieck family ownership, though golfing hasn’t started yet. That is slated to happen soon, likely around May 1 once the weather warms up. Since its reopening, darts and pool leagues have been held in the club house, along with karaoke.
Getting the nine-hole course back in order has taken a while after months of neglect. Wieck was able to put his associate degree in golf course management into use by prepping the course for play.
“It’s a big undertaking. All the greens were dead. We had to replace all the greens. The fairways and the tee boxes were in fairly good shape. We had to mow everything and fertilize and the sprinkler system needed a lot of work,” Wieck said.
The golf course first opened in 1968 and was the only nine-hole course in Grand Island before closing.
Wieck said it was a well-used course and the previous owner closed it because of health reasons, not because the business was failing. Knowing how popular it was, Wieck thought buying it was worth the risk.
“How often can someone say they own a golf course?” he said.
Soon, his family will be owners of two. They are lined up to take possession of the course in Wood River this month. The Wood River Golf Course, which has been owned by the city of Wood River, closed last year and wasn’t going to reopen. The Wieck family stepped in to buy it, too.
“That one we went after. After we got this (Fonner View), we thought they could accent each other, rather than be in a competition,” Wieck said.
The Wood River course will also have darts, pool, an arcade and a full kitchen.
Wieck said it has been a blast reviving Fonner View.
“A lot of people missed this business,” he said, adding that about 40 women have already signed up for Wednesday night league.
The business is open all year — a change from past ownership that only had Fonner View open during the golfing season.
Dart and pool leagues are already going, with some dart competitions drawing 40 to 50 a night. Wieck hopes to offer youth darts and summer golf. Golf leagues for men are held on Mondays, with leagues for women on Wednesdays, mixed on Thursdays and shotgun on Fridays. The business is open from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. every day and summer hours have it opening at 6 a.m.
Other members of the Wieck family involved in the business are Mike’s brothers, Brian and Mark, and his parents, Michael and Roswitha.
Information from: The Grand Island Independent, http://www.theindependent.com