The economy, leasing problems with Bogey’s Steak House and poor weather conditions over a period of at least two years ultimately drove the Lakeland Golfers Association to put Rozella Ford Golf Course up for sale last month.
On Monday, Stacey Page Online confirmed that a change of leadership is taking place at the golf course. Today, Jeff Johnson of Warsaw told us exclusively, “I’m taking over the operations of Rozella.” Johnson is retired from Johnson Nursery/Johnson Landscaping in Warsaw.
On Tuesday, Deb Wiggins said she is also currently “… in discussions to pursue a business relationship” with Johnson. Wiggins said she is serving as a business consultant at this venture, which she called “very new.”
In fact, the corporation that currently owns Rozella Ford Golf Course is in the process of dissolving. “I’m taking over operations with the intent of ownership,” said Johnson, “but that is a long process.”
Johnson explained he has been working day and night to see that Rozella Ford Golf Course is “fun again. It’s had some bad times but we’re going to turn it around and bring back the good times.”
Johnson plans to invest $300,000 this year alone in improvements to include major upgrades like improvements to the driving range, the clubhouse, the course and the pro shop. He explained that, among the biggest operations, “We’re going to re-do the driving range which had some major drainage problems.”
Other improvements will include extensive fertilization of the course and the replacement of trees. Johnson expects to cut down approximately 100 trees, which he said are not suitable for a golf course, and replace many of them. “With the improvements it will allow faster play and more fun. It will be a shopmaker’s golf course.”
Wiggins, Johnson confirmed, will also be overseeing the clubhouse and lounge which will be called the Rozella Ford Lounge. The menu will be limited, offering steaks and sandwiches in a sports bar type of environment.
Johnson has also hired golf pro Jeff Shoemaker who was previously at Stonehenge Golf Course. “The community loves him and I’m confident we’ve got the right people to run this,” Johnson added. “I have a good vision and good people with visions similar to mine.”
“I grew up on the golf course and don’t want to see it turned into a cornfield,” he explained. “I’m in this for the love of the course.”
Johnson said Rozella Ford already has 81 new members and the club will still honor lifetime memberships, pre-paid 1-year memberships and all stockholders.
LGA has held ownership of the golf course, located at 1700 Rozella Rd., Warsaw, for more than 50 years.