Things have turned around for a Lehigh golf club and its operators are happy now that season is bringing in tourists in addition to the many people living near the golf course that a few years ago appeared doomed to failure and possible closure.
Copperhead Golf Club today is vibrant and the parking lot at the club house is filled with cars with golfers toting their clubs to a provided golf cart on to the course that is one of the more attractive golf courses in the region.
Don Anderson of Cape Coral stepped out of his car, opened his trunk and pulled out his bag of golf clubs and said he was looking forward to a round of golf.
A scene of part of the Copperhead Golf Course, at 20910 Copperhead Drive in Lehigh Acres. A large lake is part of the 18- hole championship golf course.
"It's my first visit here. I heard it has improved from a lot of people, so I came out here to play in a foursome," he said.
Copper Golf Club is located at 20910 Copperhead Drive in Lehigh Acres and local residents know it as part of a high-end community of homes at the end of Beth Stacey Avenue and 23rd Street. Beth Stacey enters straight into the community without any stop signs. Motorists on 23rd Street must stop and are reminded that the golf club is back in action and those traveling Beth Stacey have the right-of-way into the golfing community.
One of the newest golf clubs in Lee County when it was constructed, timing was not good as the recession approached. It opened in May of 2001. A group of investors bought the property for $40 million in 2006 and worked with a building group which was building nice homes on the grounds.
But when the recession hit in 2007 and 2008, the building group was forced to file for bankruptcy and the investors agreed to manage the property until a buyer could be found.
But luck being as it is, around 2008 or 2009, the bank that held its note failed and was taken over by the FDIC.
According to reports, investors continued to manage the property until buyers were found in April of 2011. That was when they purchased the golf course, maintenance facilities and the large pro shop for $1.2 million.
Sam Tefft was hired as golf course superintendent and things began to turn around. That was in October of 2012.
Kelly Little is the general manager and he said people come to Lehigh to play golf and it was his desire to bring golfers back. Little even envisions with the turnaround, the possibility of more restaurants coming to Lehigh and more stores for golfers and their spouses to shop.
Tefft admitted that when he was hired, he began immediately to move at full speed to make changes at the golf club. But he gives credit to Little as he says "for being the driving force who gets people in the door."
And in the door they are coming. A round of golf during season begins at $70 from 7 to noon and even on cloudy days with a little mist of the grass, the golfers are out on the greens early.
Copperhead is an 18-hole championship course. There is a beautiful driving range, putting green, a large full-service pro shop and a snack bar. A beautiful lake is a part of the golf course. It has beautiful landscaping and the greens are being kept in top notch order.
Tefft said golfers have the opportunity to pay daily fees or purchase annual or even semi-annual play passes.
Little noted that revenues have jumped upward and things are looking good.
To get golfers to try Copperhead, both Little and Tefft has spread the word though advertising in golf magazines and online at Golfnow.com. They also said handing out fliers with coupons brought many to play on the course.
Tefft said those who work at the golf club are excited with the turnaround.
He also said construction is expected to resume with the homes that are across from the golf course as other investors take over.
"We have a great neighborhood here. It's a great place to live and even greater if you enjoy playing golf. You don't have to drive far, just to the club house where we provide the carts," he laughed.
Copperhead is one of a few golf clubs in Lehigh which include the Majestic Golf Club and the Westminster Golf Club.