NORTH KINGSVILLE — Few know Village Green Golf Course in North Kingsville than Adam Smith, its new course manager.
Smith, who began his duties last month, prowled the 18-hole course on the Lake Erie shore as a championship golfer for Conneaut High School. Twenty-eight years later, North Kingsville’s leadership has handed him the keys to the municipally-owned facility.
“It’s a homecoming, almost,” Smith said Friday. “I grew up around here and played golf here. I played quite a bit at Village Green. I have good memories.”
Golf has always been a passion. As a youth, he worked as a ground crew member at local courses.
Smith, 45, replaces Van Hicks, who recently retired after several years as manager. Smith returns to Ashtabula County from working at a golf course about an hour removed from New York City.
A member of the CHS class of 1990, Smith left the area in 1995 to spend time at some of the top golf courses in the eastern United States. “That’s where the best courses, the best professionals and the best players were,” he said.
Northeast Ohio was never far from Smith’s mind, however. His parents , Ron and MaryBeth, live a short walk from Village Green, and the opportunity to operate the course he played as a teen proved irresistible.
“It’s good timing for me,” Smith said.
He brings home plenty of experience in the golf field. Smith, a 25-year PGA member, has a “strong background” in the food and beverage business and — as a club pro — “ran tons of events,” he said.
“I think I’ve touched every aspect of the golf business,” he said.
Hicks did a great job with the course, but there’s always room for improvement, Smith said.
“I’m not planning on shaking it up,” he said. “I just want to take it over the top, and in a good direction.”
Some upgrades, such as introducing WiFi access to the clubhouse, have already happened. Soon, the course will soon have a website, Smith said.
“Golfers will be able to book tee times on line,” he said.
Upgrades to the food service are ahead, too — a grill and fryer are coming that will help expand the menu.
“There’s a lot of room to do things,” Smith said. “This will be fun for me.”
North Kingsville Councilman Tim Green, chairman of council’s golf course committee, said Smith was easily the best applicant for the job.
“He understands the maintenance side of running a golf course, he understands the business side and he can give lessons,” Green said.
“He’s someone who can bridge all the dimensions. He has the energy and passion for the job.”
Village leaders like Smith’s desire to make the course inviting to more people, Green said. “He wants to do more with youth and families,” he said.
Green said Hicks deserves lots of credit for making Village Green a destination course for many golfers.
“The course is a credit to Van,” Green said. “He took it to another level. We’re grateful for his service to the course.”
Smith said he appreciates the support of council and administration.
“I’m fortunate to have some really, really good people,” he said. “Their vision (for the course) matches mine.”
Smith said he has already met some of the local golfers — a few have actually been on the links during infrequent lulls in winter weather. The course will officially open as soon as the climate allows, he said.
“If it’s nice, we’ll be going,” Smith said.
The sport remains a popular pastime in Ashtabula County and northeast Ohio, Smith said, and the many golfers in the region would enjoy playing at Village Green, he said.
“I’m going to try to make it the best it can be,” Smith said.