New Stalker Lake Golf Course owners have passion for turf [UPDATED]Published 5:56am Monday, February 25, 2013 Updated 8:02am Monday, February 25, 2013
The Swongers dreamed of owning their own golf course, and found a good match at Stalker Lake near Dalton.
“We wanted to stay within driving distance of family in Wisconsin,” said Sheri. “And this course has good bones and something we felt we could improve on and make better.”
Randy added that it was also a favorable business deal.
We were able to work out a contract for deed,” said Randy. “With traditional bank financing we would have put all of our savings into the down payment. Now we have money to make improvements.”
Sheri is from Wisconsin and Randy grew up south of St. Paul. Both come with Bachelor of Science degrees in turf management and a combined 30 years experience with golf courses.
They met at a golf course during their first job interview right out of college. The golf course hired Randy, but were so impressed with Sheri that they soon developed a position for her too. They’ve been together ever since.
“It’s been a lifelong dream to own a golf course,” said Randy, whose last position was as a golf course superintendent in Wisconsin. “With the long hours I worked, the kids got the short end of the stick.”
While Randy still anticipates putting in long hours, he looks forward to having their two kids, six-year-old Jaxson and eight-year-old Trevor, with them. The couple acquired a lot on the golf course as part of the purchase and will be building a home in the spring, just a short golf cart ride away.
Randy also nabbed a second job out of the deal.
The couple bought the course from Milt Smedsrud, who is a principal with Communicating for Agriculture in Fergus Falls. An arm of the company arranges agricultural internships for college students and graduates around the world, including internships in turf management.
“I arranged my first internship today,” said Randy.
Both the Swongers are passionate about golf and golf courses, and are excited about the potential at Stalker Lake.
“We want to develop and keep the course in really good condition and keep prices reasonable,” said Sheri.
“One of the smartest things I think we did was to send out a survey to current members asking them what they would like to see happen here,” said Randy. “That feedback, combined with our experiences from different courses will help us figure out what will work here.”
While the Swongers are looking forward to running and developing the golf course, they have recruited some expert help to run the restaurant.
“We hired Vicki Lee, chef and manager from Ten Mile Steakhouse,” said Sheri, explaining they plan to keep some of the restaurant’s favorites, and some new items like a prime rib mushroom melt sandwich, and incorporate some of Lee’s specialties such as her signature caramel apple cranberry cobbler. “We’re planning on having regular food and drink specials.”
The Swongers are also looking forward to becoming part of the community, supporting golf teams at Ashby and Underwood schools, and intend to include events that benefit the community in their marketing plan.
“We want to be a benefit to the local community, have a golf course in good condition, great food, and reasonable prices,” said Randy.