The Madison (Ohio) Country Club was founded as a private, member-owned club in 1923, but ceased operating as a private entity in 2011 when it went into bank receivership with $1.9 million in debt and less than $1,500 in available funds. Rollin Cooke purchased the club in January 2013 and began the process of revival.
The Madison (Ohio) Country Club is marking its centennial against the backdrop of a sustained climb from the brink of extinction 12 years ago, The Lake County News-Herald reported. The par-71, 6,477-yard golf course was founded as a private, member-owned club in 1923, but ceased operating as a private entity in 2011 when it went into bank receivership with $1.9 million in debt and less than $1,500 in available funds.
It re-opened in 2012 as a public course that also offers semi-private membership plans ranging in cost from $800 to just shy of $2,000, The News-Herald reported. From an estimated 10,000 rounds played in 2012, Madison this year is on track to host 25,000 to 27,000 rounds.
Credit for giving the course a new lease on life is shared by owner Rollin Cooke, Director of Golf operations Kevin Leymaster, clubhouse and grounds employees as well as thousands of area golfers drawn to Madison by its consistently good playing conditions and affordable greens fees, The News-Herald reported.
“The course is in great shape and well-maintained,” said Cooke, who purchased the club in January 2013 for $1.3 million. “It takes a lot of money to run the course the way I want it to be run, but it’s worth all the time and money we put into this business when people go out of their way to tell me how nice the course is and how much they enjoy playing here.”
Leymaster has a history at Madison pre-dating that of Cooke, The News-Herald reported. An experienced golf course operator whose previous career stops included the now-shuttered Thunder Hill in Madison Township, Leymaster in 2012 approached officials of First Merit Bank with a plan to continue operating Madison as a public course until a buyer could be found.
“My argument was it made more sense to keep the course open and producing revenue,” Leymaster said. “The place was in rough shape back then, but we did what we could with limited resources. It’s come so far since then.”
Soon after finalizing the purchase in 2013, Cooke hired Leymaster to stay on as overall manager of the course, The News-Herald reported.
“Kevin takes everything to heart. He treats the place like he owns it,” Cooke said.
Leymaster oversees an operation that includes an eight-member grounds crew headed by Superintendent-in-Training Vince Primer and a clubhouse staff headed by his wife, Amy, The News-Herald reported.
“Amy is super efficient. You don’t have to tell her anything,” Cooke said, smiling.
Jon Nixon and Jim Mayer regularly play at Madison, The News-Herald reported. Both have purchased full-season memberships for a number of years.
“This is a great course with a great layout,” Nixon said. “This place has sentimental value to me, too. My uncle, Watson Kallay, was a nurseryman and one of the first members here. He donated a lot of the rhododendron you still see around the course.”
Mayer has recorded three holes-in-one at Madison since 2015, The News-Herald reported.
“The conditions are ideal for a public course and they get better every year,” Mayer said. “It’s a great place to spend time with family and friends.”
Jack Muzzio volunteers as a clubhouse assistant and plays regularly at Madison, The News-Herald reported.
“I caddied here growing up and had great experiences.” Muzzio said. “All these years later, I’m back here and it’s still a great environment.”
Cooke and Leymaster both pointed to positive feedback from paying customers as a driving force in their efforts to upgrade the golf experience at Madison Country Club, The News-Herald reported.
“The potential is huge as long as we keep doing what we’re doing,” Cooke said. “We’re not maxxed out.”