by Andrea Cole

Associate Editor

Stow -- Parks and Recreation Director Nick Wren said he believes the city's first year of owning Fox Den Golf Course was "successful."

The administration purchased the golf course for $5.5 million from Fox Den Fairways Inc. in last February.

According to Wren, the revenue from February 2006 through December 2006 was $1.5 million, and the expenses during that time totaled $968,000.

According to Finance Director John Baranek, the golf course's revenue in 2005 from February to December was between $1.1 million and $1.3 million. Baranek said expenditures from 2005 were not available.

Wren said 37,557 rounds of golf were purchased from February through December 2006, an increase of 300 rounds from 2005.

"A lot of it depends on different factors, like the weather," he said. "We did what we felt was a more aggressive marketing campaign this year, which may have helped. Fox Den was in the news a lot more, which also could have led to the increase. Our goal is to have around 37,000 or 38,000 rounds played each year."

Wren said while there was a decrease in the number of rounds played in September and October, the golf course made up for it with more business in November and December.

"We did not do as well as we had projected in September [2006] because the weather was terrible," he said. "But we were able to stay open until Dec. 18 because of the warm weather."

Wren noted the golf course retained the same management as Fox Den Fairways Inc.

Currently, there are five full-time managers, he said, adding they work more than 40 hours and do not receive overtime because they are on salary.

"We were very happy with the management, and we wanted to keep them in place," said Wren, adding the contracts for the full-time managers expired Dec. 31, 2006. "Each manager received a 3.2 percent raise, which was consistent with raises for all city employees."

According to the finance department, general manager Tom McKinney earns an annual salary of $75,576; assistant manager Mark Paxton earns an annual salary of $40,307; course superintendent George Hanson earns an annual salary of $49,288; assistant course superintendent Dale Hill earns an annual salary of $33,489; and second assistant course superintendent Daniel Hill earns an annual salary of $23,612.

During the winter months, the full-time employees stay busy, said Wren.

"The managers help oversee additions to the course," he said. "They refurbish the equipment. Our pro shop is open all year, so they are busy selling gift certificates and items from the club house. They contact all the league secretaries to find out when the league will be playing, they plan the outings for the course. They order all of the equipment for the pro shop, and get everything ready for the season."

Approximately 50 seasonal employees will be hired in March. Seasonal employees, who do not receive benefits, are paid up to $11 an hour and work no more than 40 hours per week.

Wren hopes to expand Fox Den's services this year by adding a golf school. Although Fox Den offers lessons, Wren said he wants to add more specialized classes.

"We plan to move forward with this aggressively," he said. "Golf is such an intimidating sport, and we want to help more people in Stow learn how to play."

Wren said the course, which is closed for the season, is set to re-open for use in March.

E-mail: acole@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-686-3947