Valley High Golf Club under new ownership
Houston County’s only 18-hole golf course opened on April 1, 2022 under new ownership. Jim Wieser, Bill Schmitz, Scott Iverson and Dave Bubbers were able to play a round of golf on their new course that day; the next day it snowed, forcing them to cancel a college golf tournament scheduled on the course.
The April weather was not very cooperative for the new owners with only a few sunny days, but the diehards still came to play. Valley High is usually the first golf course to open in the area due to the course configuration and its ground. After a frosty start to the season, the club was able to host the TRGA (Three Rivers Golf Association) on the weekend of April 23-24.
When asked how they came to take on this adventure, everyone looked at Jim Wieser. Jim had noticed the golf club for sale on Marketplace and his interest was piqued. He mentioned it to Bill Schmitz who was “a bit interested” as well. Bill spoke to Scott Iverson and Dave Bubbers and soon the foursome bought the golf club, which had been on sale for about two years. The four men have known each other for some time. Dave and Bill are brothers-in-law and Scott is married to a cousin of Jim.
The men bring a variety of skills to their partnership. Jim Wieser is superintendent at Wieser Brothers; he assumed responsibility for the golf course grounds and equipment on site. Scott Iverson works for a non-profit organization, ORC Industries, and handles the internal financial and technical aspects of the business. Bill Schmitz owns the TimeOut Tavern in La Crescent and will use his experience to run the bar and restaurant at Valley High. Dave Bubbers, an electrician with Graf Electric in La Crescent, calls himself a jack-of-all-trades for Valley High. The men shared that they’ve taken a “shotgun approach” with everyone trying to do it all right now. They noted that there were many “squirrel moments” as they got up and ran.
In charge of day to day operations are Jim Bastys who is the course superintendent and Joe Smader who is the clubhouse manager. Eventually, Valley High hopes to employ about 20 employees.
The new owners have acknowledged that the course took a lot more work than expected. In addition to recent weather challenges, 19 trees fell on the course during recent storms and had to be removed. Plus, they had the challenge of getting all the equipment working for the season. The men are all locals and make a point of using small local businesses for any work they need.
Changes in the near future are centered around the restaurant and bar. They can’t wait to bring Valley High back with a great menu. They added homemade pizzas and flatbreads to their menu, along with burgers, croissants, and other sandwiches. More dining options are planned for the clubhouse soon.
Banquet halls are available with seating for 100-125 and a dance floor. They’ve already hosted a fundraiser at the facility and booked a graduation party.
No major changes are forthcoming for the course – it is already an excellent course that golfers love to play. Subscriptions purchased for the year are already in place and will be honored. There may be new promotions next year. The course known for the tree in the middle of the green of hole #16 will remain as is for the time being.
The vast majority of tournaments held at the club are for charitable causes or in someone’s memory. On May 21 and 22, the Valley High Armed Forces Day 3-man Calcutta Scramble will take place. Thirty-two teams will play with 10% donated to the Wounded Warrior Project. Interested teams can register at [email protected] or call the club at (507) 894-4444.
So far, the quartet has had no disagreements to make decisions. According to Bill Schmitz, they wonder, “Will this make the course better? Will it improve the clubhouse? to drive decision making. The biggest challenge for their business right now is the same as for any business: costs. Gasoline and food prices weigh more heavily on their profits.
The objective of the new owners is to please the people of the region. They are not looking to compete with more distant golf courses. They also want to encourage more young people to take up golf. Currently, they cooperate with La Crescent and Houston schools and are their home golf course. Student golfers also get a discounted rate on summer membership.
The course is open from sunrise to sunset for golf (as long as there is no frost). Clubhouse hours should be determined – the more people come to visit, the more hours will be added. Jim, Bill, Scott and Dave look invite you to come visit them soon at Valley High, located just off Highway 16 between Houston and Hokah, for golf, food and drinks!