HOWLAND - Warren city administrators, golf course management and other officials gathered behind the Old Avalon Golf Course clubhouse on June 13 to survey the course during its grand reopening.
"This is a great facility and a great asset to the community," Mayor Doug Franklin said.
Nearby, a set of friends prepared to tee off at the first hole, and in the distance, three 12-year-old girls learned to putt on a practice green.
Howland Community News / Margaret Thompson
Eliana D’Andrea, left, Madison Schaefer and Jazlyn Raines, all 12 and all Howland Middle School students, perfect their putting techniques June 13 on a practice green at the Old Avalon golf course. The girls are part of a summer sports program able to be held at Avalon now that the course is up and running after a year-and-a-half hiatus.
"It's the second time I've been here," Darrell Logan of Niles said. "It's a beautiful course. ... In time, it will be good."
The public course on East Market Street has been roughing it for the past year and a half since its closure following a disagreement between the former management and the City of Warren, which owns the course.
Now under the management of Avalon South Management Co. LLC, which is owned by Petrozzi Accounting, the course is finding new life and new players.
"We have two leagues currently and we're working with the high schools so they are going to make Avalon their golf course," said Koula Glaros-Ross, club house manager.
Glaros-Ross said while there are still some large kinks, like fixing the irrigation system, to be worked out the response to the course's opening has been good.
"A lot of golfers when they come in the first thing they tell me is 'We're so glad it's open, we've been playing here 40 years,'" she said.
The three 12-year-old girls haven't been playing golf for more than four years at the most, but said they have been enjoying their lessons at the course as part of Howland's summer sports program learning from the high school's golf coach.
"It's fun. I like how they give you the 150 (yard signs) and tell you where to go," said Jazlyn Raines.
The girls are already excited for tournaments at the end of the summer and maybe for a career in the sport.
"You can get a lot of money!" Madison Schaefer said.
Councilman Jim Valesky said the students being able to play on the course is an example of the quality-of-life improvement that the course provides - one of the reasons he fought to keep the course under the city's control rather than sell it which was considered after the disagreement with previous management.
"I said, let's roll up our sleeves and make this a viable asset for the city," he said.
Under the terms of the current contract, the management company is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the course and is expected to bring in about $3,000 per month for the city in property taxes, an amount that will increase in later years.