Two popular golf courses have been sold by local masters and US Open champion Fuzzy Zoeller to an Illinois-based company that owns and operates golf clubs across the country.
KemperSports, headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois, has acquired the Fuzzy Zoeller Covered Bridge and Champions Pointe golf clubs in southern Indiana.
“Fuzzy and his team have done an amazing job building and running them, and we are excited to continue that legacy,” said Steve Skinner, CEO of KemperSports in an interview. “We saw a real opportunity for two highly regarded courses in a growing market.”
Skinner said KemperSports began discussions with ownership groups about a year ago. The sale closed on September 6. He declined to share the purchase price.
The Company will own and operate the golf courses but maintain an ongoing relationship with both Zoeller and developer of the residential golf community at Champions Pointe.
There are a few immediate capital improvements in Champions Pointe in the works, including new pools at the track and asphalt buggy tracks.
“We want to keep these cycles ahead of the market, so we will continue to invest in them,” Skinner said. “We will look at the golf courses and clubs and see where we can make improvements.”
Skinner said existing patrons shouldn’t expect major changes to the courses they come to enjoy, but stressed his company’s commitment to advancing customer service.
“Golf players are very passionate about their golf courses,” Skinner said. “And people don’t like change. I think they will see improvement. All we do is improve their experience so they come and play the golf course more.”
He added that his company intends to retain and train existing employees in KemperSports customer service standards at 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.
Frank Urban Zoeller, better known as “Fuzzy,” opened Covered Bridge Golf Club in Sellersburg in 1994.
A 10-time PGA Tour winner, including his debut at the Masters in 1979 and later at the 1984 US Open, Champions Pointe opened in Henryville in 2007, described as “a tough but fair test for every golfer.”
Zoeler designed the 18-hole par-72 designs along with renowned golf course architect Clyde Johnston.
“We thought it was time to do it,” Zoeller said of the sale. “We think we’ve put the right people in place, with KemperSports to take over… Hopefully things will go well for them.”
Jim Epperson, executive director of the Clark and Floyd County Bureau of Conventions and Tourism, SoIN Tourism, said he was pleased to hear that the new owners intend to make capital improvements and maintain the courses for years to come.
While southern Indiana is not well known as a great golf destination, he said, the sport attracts a segment of high-spending consumers to enjoy any of the region’s six public courses, which range in price and degree of difficulty.
He commended the way Nadia Zoeller takes on the role of concierge visiting groups, helping them plan dining, lodging and other recreational experiences in the area.
“They’ve been very good at doing it, which takes it beyond two rounds of golf and turns it into a really comprehensive high-cost experience for people coming in,” Epperson said.
Looking to the future, Skinner said he would like to attract more local players as well as golfers from the region by increasing the marketing of the courses, supporting junior golf efforts, and encouraging other player development programs. At the same time, he wants the courses to continue to host community events, making the clubs “as rooted in the community as they are now”.
The courses will continue to carry existing brands, including the Zoeller name.
“We left something to the area that they could enjoy for years,” Zoeller said. “And I was so proud to do that.”
Contact Louisville Courier-Journal Business and Development Reporter Matthew Glowicki at firstname.lastname@example.org.