MASSENA — Citing a decline in the number of golfers, the owner of the Fox Hill Golf and Country Club in Massena said he is closing its doors for good.
“The golf industry is not what it used to be. When I first built, it was very nice. It was going well for quite a few years. But the last five years, it’s changed in the community. People are not out golfing. They just don’t have the time,” John Kearns said.
This would have been the 19th year of business for the Fox Hill Golf and Country Club, 216 Bayley Road. It opened in 1999.
“I love the land,” Kearns said. “I bought the whole Bayley estate. I farmed this when I was a youth. I baled all the hay and put it up in the loft. I grew up here. I know the land well.”.
But the golf course has become a victim of changing times.
“There aren’t as many golfers as there were years ago,” Kearns said. “We kept it up very well. They loved it. But you don’t have that youth any more. They’re not golfing any more.”
Weather also played factor.
“It’s a weather-oriented business, for sure. If they mention rain on the radio, forget it. Everybody packs up and goes to do something else. There are a lot of fair-weather golfers,” he said.
Whether golfers use the course or not, there were always the expenses associated with running the country club, such as utilities and equipment, he said.
“It costs a lot to run a golf course these days,” he said.
There were also long hours, according to Kearns. He said, at age 67, he knows it’s time to retire. The course was open seven days a week during the golfing season, and he would be there from 5 a.m. to 9:30 or 10 p.m. every day.
“You get the winter off. It’s just the nature of the business,” he said. “I want to enjoy the rest of my senior years.”
Kearns said he tried to sell Fox Hill and had a few interested parties, but nothing panned out.
“Money is hard to come by,” he said.
Kearns said he thought long and hard before making the decision to close the Fox Hill Golf and Country Club.
“It’s been a journey. It took a while to make the decision. Now that I have, I’ve come to the reality of yes, this is the right thing to do. I’m where I want to be. I feel very comfortable that I’m retiring,” he said.
Since he has been unable to sell the club, Kearns said he plans to remodel it as his home. But he still has equipment that’s available to buyers.
“I’ve got a lot of equipment to sell,” he said.
Anyone who is interested in buying any of the equipment can call him at 315-250-9949.