Letter: Ironman golf course owner says 'job well done' to golf pro Mark Holm
Here’s my point: Mark Holm steered the city owned golf courses through good times, had to pivot and steer the courses through tough times, and now golf has rebounded during the pandemic years. Mark has recently steered the facility through its peak revenue years, with a record 735 members this past 2022 season.
Can we all remember driving down Highway 10 and being able to dine at Hardee’s or that small hut in the middle of a parking lot, Miguel’s, or my favorite, Burger Time?
That was some 20 years ago.
Though I miss Burger Time, (Hardee’s not so much). Miguel’s is in a wonderful spot now, serving great Mexican food. In 2000, I was in my first year of owning and running Ironman Golf Course. I was enjoying a new experience, empowered by ownership. Having two young children turned our attention to growing the game of golf by offering golf programs to the youth. My wife always said it was a way to create new friends for our two kids.
While maintaining all the tasks of running a golf course and trying so hard to grow rounds, our junior programs pulled many towards our small, humble facility. It seemed to be a cult-like movement as word of mouth throughout the mothers of Detroit Lakes brought many kids to Ironman for golf instruction and play. We needed advertising to grow rounds of golf, but never had to advertise to fill our junior programs. It was so much fun to see young people enjoy the game, including our two kids, for close to 15 years.
The summers were great at Ironman, watching our two children thrive in a wonderful setting with smiling kids and happy mothers. We could not duplicate this enthusiasm with growing the golf rounds at Ironman. Golf was in a funk since the Twin Towers attack in the year 2001 in New York City. The economy and stock market both plummeted, which affected the golf industry. While our family thrived, our business did not.
I would say the golf business was in a funk for close to 20 years country-wide after that attack. My association, the PGA of America, was in a funk too, trying to reinvent golf through multiple ways of player development, trying to bring new people into the game. Detroit Lakes was no different. We had too many golf courses. The strong survive and the weak are eliminated. Ironman was part of that and River Hills golf course, a nine hole facility closed but turned into a very successful park model seasonal development. Forest Hills, an 18 hole golf course on the west side of town, was propped up by another facility that owned them out of Brainerd, and their seasonal community helped the course survive.
Les and Pat Kertscher, sadly, have passed within the last five years, with Maple Hills Golf Course not sure of their future going forward. Maple Hills was another example of the strength of family keeping that facility open during tough times. Wildflower Golf Course seemed to be an anchor and not an amenity to Fair Hills Resort for those 20 years.
How about Detroit Country Club and Lakeview Golf Course? Detroit Country Club is the oldest public golf course in the state of Minnesota. A tremendous facility which has hosted the annual Pine to Palm amateur golf tournament in August every year for the past 90 years. The town is proud of such a great facility, providing great golf to its patrons and guests for over 100 years! Wow.
I am proud of my association, the PGA of America. We are trained on how to run golf courses, to instruct, and to interact with the patrons. We are built-in promoters of the game. Mark Holm is a PGA member, and ran both local facilities in the 1990s, a boom period for golf. It was a fun time to be in the golf business with so much growth and so many players.
Those two planes that went into the Twin Towers that ultimately affected Ironman, also affected the oldest public golf course in Minnesota. Rounds were down, revenue was down, and course conditions were affected.
Here’s my point: Mark Holm steered the city owned golf courses through good times, had to pivot and steer the courses through tough times, and now golf has rebounded during the pandemic years. He brought golf back after our governor had kept that activity closed. He trained everyone to play golf through the many rules placed on him and the facility during Covid-19. Mark has recently steered the facility through record revenue years, with a record 735 members this past 2022 season.
Mark has retired and a new PGA golf professional has been hired for the 2023 golf season. We wish the new golf pro good fortune and know his training will bring some new ideas to Detroit Country Club and Lakeview. The two city-owned golf facilities will last another 100 years, which brings me to my point — golf will have its ups and downs. It tends to follow the state of the economy. The facilities will survive because the city is financially behind them and our town and surrounding communities love the game and those two facilities.
So, let’s celebrate change and know Mark Holm stewarded these two clubs through the good and bad times the past 32 years. Times are good again. Thanks Mark!
(The Smiths owned Ironman Golf Course from 2000 to 2015 and ran Lakeview Golf Course from 2016 through 2022. They will soon be moving on to be near their son and daughter.)