New Partners at Home at Old Course
By MARK MILLER
To say the new partnership that now owns and operates Timber Ridge Golf Club is enthusiastic and excited about their new venture would be a fairly significant understatement. “We feel like we bring a lot of different talents to this,” Bruce Imel said, speaking for his brothers, their father and their new partner, John Roembke. “We each have an area of expertise. We think it’s a good marriage.” In a group interview over the weekend, Imel, his three brothers Brian, Brent and Blaine, along with their father Bob and Roembke shared how their rather unique partnership came together and what their plans are for the course that has now seen three ownership changes in just four years. Roembke has been working to keep the local golf course open after it became apparent late last year that the prior owner would not be able to keep the course open in 2009. The idea for this new partnership was hatched in the wake of another deal falling apart, was developed in phone conversations amongst the Imel family and essentially agreed upon all in one day about a month ago. An arrangement with two Fort Wayne men who are already in the golf course business had looked promising at first, but “it just all fell apart” during a long, afternoon meeting, John relates. While Bruce Imel had not been involved in the discussions, he had been instrumental in putting the men in touch with each other and had been tracking its progress.
“By the time I got home late that afternoon, Bruce was already there,” Roembke recalls. “We started talking about some ‘what if’s’ and Bruce began calling his dad and his brothers.” “I called them up and said, ‘Here’s something I thought I’d never ask you, but what if we became part owners of the golf course?’” Bruce says. He became the lead person in the deal for the Imel family. “We were on the phone with each other practically on-stop,” Blaine recalls. The framework for what they had in mind “was essentially finalized by 9:30 or 10 o’clock that night,” Roembke says. “In the past, so much of what was done here was hired out,” Roembke said, indicating that this will not be the case in the future. “Our dad raised us with a real ‘hands-on’ approach to things,” Brent Imel said. While the group’s first hire was to bring veteran grounds keeper Adam Vanlandingham back on board, Timber Ridge will not be hiring a club professional nor a manager. “We’ll do that as a group,” Roembke noted, recognizing that this will be a key part of making the course workable in what everyone recognizes as a time that has been and remains challenging for golf courses.
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