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Two well-known golf courses by local Masters and U.S. Open champion Fuzzy Zoeller have been sold to an Illinois-based company that owns and manages golf clubs nationwide. © Provided by Golfweek
KemperSports, headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois, has acquired Fuzzy Zoeller’s Covered Bridge and Champions Pointe golf clubs in Southern Indiana.
“Fuzzy and his team did a great job building them and running them, and we’re excited to carry on that legacy,” said KemperSports CEO Steve Skinner in an interview. “We saw a real opportunity for two courses that are highly regarded in a market that’s growing.”
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KemperSports started discussions with the ownership groups about a year ago, Skinner said. The sale closed on Sept. 6. He declined to share the purchase price.
The company will own and operate both golf courses but maintain an ongoing relationship with both Zoeller and the developer of the residential golf community at Champions Pointe.
A few immediate capital improvements at Champions Pointe are underway, including new on-course bathrooms and asphalt cart paths.
“We want to maintain these courses at the top of the market, so we’ll continue to invest in them,” Skinner said. “We’re going to look at both golf courses and the clubhouses and look where we can make improvements.”
Current patrons shouldn’t expect big changes to the courses they’ve come to enjoy, Skinner said, but stressed his company’s commitment to elevating customer service.
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“Golfers are very passionate about their golf courses,” Skinner said. “And people don’t like change. I think they’ll see improvement. Everything we do is to improve their experience so they come and play the golf course more.”
He added that it’s his company’s intent to keep existing staffing and train them on KemperSports’ customer service standards at the more than 120 golf courses, private clubs, resorts and other facilities nationwide.
“Everyone will see familiar faces as they did yesterday and the day before,” he said.
More: Why some courses fail, why some succeed as told by an industry insider © Provided by Golfweek Champions Pointe Golf Club, Henryville, Indiana.
A sign at the entrance to Champions Pointe Golf Club, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, in Henryville, Indiana. (Timothy D. Easley/Special to USA Today Network)
Frank Urban Zoeller, known as “Fuzzy,” opened Covered Bridge Golf Club in Sellersburg in 1994.
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The 10-time PGA Tour victor, including his first appearance at the Masters in 1979 and later at the 1984 U.S. Open, opened Champions Pointe in Henryville in 2007, billed as a “demanding yet fair test for every golfer.”
Zoeller designed the 18-hole courses with par-72 layouts alongside noted golf course architect Clyde Johnston.
“We thought it was the time to do it,” Zoeller said of the sale. “We think we’ve put the right people in, with KemperSports to take over … hopefully things will go well for them.”
Jim Epperson, executive director of Clark and Floyd counties’ convention and tourism bureau SoIN Tourism, said he was pleased to hear the new owners intend on making capital improvements and keeping the courses up for years to come.
While Southern Indiana isn’t known as a big golfing destination, he said, the sport attracts a high-spending niche of consumers to enjoy any of the region’s six public courses, which range in price point and degree of difficulty.
He praised how the two Zoeller clubs often take on the role of concierge for visiting groups, helping them plan dining, lodging, and other entertainment experiences in the area.
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A statue of Fuzzy Zoeller stands outside the clubhouse at Covered Bridge Golf, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, in Sellersburg, Indiana. (Timothy D. Easley/Special to USA Today Network)
“They’ve been very good about doing that, which takes it beyond a couple rounds of golf and turns it into a really comprehensive, high-dollar experience for the people who are coming,” Epperson said.
Looking to the future, Skinner said he’d like to draw more local players as well as golfers from the region by increasing marketing for the courses, supporting junior golf efforts and encouraging other player development programs. At the same time, he wants the courses to continue hosting community events, keeping the clubs “ingrained in the community as they are now.”
The courses will continue to carry current branding, including the Zoeller name.
“We’ve left something for the area that they can enjoy for years,” Zoeller said. “And I was just damn proud to do it.”
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