A new era at Oxbow

Oxbow Golf and Country Club in Belpre doesn’t mind sweating the small stuff.

In fact, the facility feels a sense of pride by paying attention to detail.

“The owners have put money back into this place, which has brought it back to life,” said Oxbow clubhouse manager Mark Brooks, who set aside his duties as clubhouse manager for one night and was the emcee for the “grand opening” as the course celebrated its 40th anniversary last Friday.

The event opened with the youngest and oldest members of the course each hitting a drive off the 10th tee.

Even at age 91, Bob Pioli could swing with the best of them. As recent as last year, he was able to walk a round of 18 holes.

“The changes are marvelous – the entire course has changed completely,” said Pioli, who has been a member at Oxbow for 31 years. “Years ago when I first came out here, the greens were like those at Oakmont Country Club (in Pittsburgh). These greens were just as fast and they are getting that way now.”

When he received the phone call from “Brooksie” one week before the special occasion, Pioli was more than happy to oblige.

“I think Brooksie thought I would refuse, but I would do anything for Brooksie,” Pioli said.

Following Pioli on this particularly blustery afternoon was 8-year-old Aubrey Schenz, who started playing golf two years ago. The student from Barlow Vincent Elementary pushed her drive just a bit. Otherwise, the venture was a success for the two golfers.

“I have two sets of clubs – I grew out of my old ones and couldn’t find any other clubs,” Schenz said. “So one day I was at my babysitter’s house and we got her neighbor’s clubs. And they fit perfect.”

Aubrey Schenz is the daughter of Heidi and Jonathan Schenz. She has one sister, Anzley, who is 15 years old and is a member of her high school golf team.

“I grew up with Oxbow because my dad was always out here golfing,” Heidi said. “It’s a family thing for me.”

The course has received extensive renovations in the past year, and Jonathan Schenz has heard nothing but positive remarks from members in his Thursday night league at Oxbow.

“They’ve done a lot with this course as far as upgrading it,” he said. “The guys I play in my league have been talking how nice the course is.”

Immediately after the guest golfers hit their drives, the owners conducted their own version of a ribbon cutting to commemorate the event. Instead of a ribbon, they snipped away at a string containing plastic golf balls.

Throughout the day, golfers were treated to a round of golf at a fee of $19.73.

“I’ve been here 23 years and seen a lot of people come and go,” Brooksie said. “I get choked up talking about it, but I love this course.

“Jack Kidwell was a phenomenal designer and this is just one of the special golf courses in Ohio and in this area.”

Contact Kerry Patrick at kpatrick@newsandsentinel.com