Springbrook Golf Pro Shops, a veteran Elma golf gear and driving range operation that closed last month, has been reborn with new owners and a new name.
The new golf enterprise, called Golf Center at Springbrook, located at 6871 Seneca St. in Elma, will focus on operating as an "off-course learning center," according to co-owner Peter H. Fenn.
"The learning center concept has been around for a few years in the golf industry, and, following in the Springbrook tradition, this will be one of the first businesses of its kind in Western New York," Fenn said.
The retooled golf business will offer a full slate of golf-related services, including an off-course golf learning center, retail shop and repair center, and premier indoor and outdoor driving ranges.
"The folks who have been coming to Springbrook for more than 30 years will find many of the same things that have brought them out to Elma in the past, plus a number of improvements, while attracting new customers," Fenn added. "We want to be the first choice for golfers at every stage of the game."
Part of that new comprehensive approach will be a new emphasis on golf education, including corporate golf seminars and group lessons. The new owners are planning to convert some office space to conference rooms to accommodate those new offerings.
A veteran of professional golf in Western New York, Fenn worked as director of golf operations for Springbrook for the past 3 1/2 years, before becoming co-owner of the reorganized business. His golf experience includes 19 years as head golf pro at the Bethlehem Steel Management Club, now known as the Brierwood Country Club, where he was honored for his merchandising expertise.
He also spent several years working in sales for such golf products manufacturers as PowerBilt.
Fenn is partnering with Dorr Dunbar, an avid golfer and businessman, to reinvent the long-time Elma golf shop and driving range. Much of Dunbar's attention will be focused on physical improvements to the facility's indoor and outdoor driving ranges. Plans call for installation of additional putting greens, grass hitting areas and range targets.
On the retail side, Fenn and Dunbar are working with several high-profile golf suppliers to completely restock the Elma shop in the wake of the liquidation of the former company's inventory. Plans call for the shop to be fully inventoried by late November, in time for the holiday shopping season.
The Golf Center at Springbrook has also forged a new alliance for Buffalo Stix, a Buffalo-based golf equipment manufacturer that specializes in custom-fit clubs.
"It's a nice marriage for both of us," Fenn said. "It gives us a unique product and they get another local outlet for their product."
As The Buffalo News reported last month, the former owners of Springbrook Pro Golf Shop were forced to sell the inventory of the Elma center, and a second shop at 4555 Bailey Ave. in Amherst due to mounting debt. Earlier in the year, the company had pulled up stakes of satellite operations at the Niagara Golf Wonderland in Niagara Falls and at the South Shore Golf Club in Hamburg.
The new owners have no immediate plans to expand their operation beyond the Elma location.
Springbrook has its roots in the Niagara Sports Centers, which was operated by Robert F. Clapp, on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst in the 1950s and 60s. His son, Robert E. Clapp, honed the family entertainment center into the area's first "off-course" golf equipment dealership after its relocation to Elma.
Robert E. Clapp continues to own the Elma property that is home to the reorganized business. His son, Lee, had been part of the ownership group which ran the business until its recent dissolution.