Improvements at Ontario Country Club are in full swing as a flurry of activity has descended on the 168 acre property over the past few weeks.
The new owner, Sean Fico, purchased the property earlier this year and has vowed to make some big updates to a course that has fallen into serious disrepair over the past several years.
“It’s not up to par.” Fico said of the club which originally opened back in 1928.
From drainage issues, to clubhouse repairs and upgrades, the daunting task of bringing OCC back to life has seen multiple owners come and go over the years.
However Fico is no stranger to herculean challenges. For over 30 years, he has worked on massive scale projects for the company he started at just 18 years old: AP Enterprises.
Located off Route 104 on Dean Parkway and founded in 1990 with only one snow plow truck, AP currently boasts over 136 pieces of heavy equipment. Skid steers, backhoes, mini excavators, and more, many of which have been deployed across the course to work on the myriad tasks that Fico says still need completing for OCC to open this season.
“We’ve taken out 110 stumps and probably cleared 30-40 dead or dying trees off the property already.” Fico said neighbors have even started showing up to pick up sticks and debris as they walk the course. “I’ve never seen a love like this for a piece of property,” joking “In 32 years in business I’ve never had people show up and offer to work or free.”
It’s that love of the property that brought him to the course himself. Since officially taking ownership just a few weeks ago, Fico has set out to repair and replace nearly ever facet of the club. New benches, paved cart paths, an updated clubhouse and more are all on the list.
As Fico named off all of the various updates, including the pool and pro-shop, he smiled and added “You can say I like stress.”
While it’s easy to make bold claims, the level of activity already underway suggests Fico and his team have the ability to execute on much if not all of his plan, and quickly.
A brand new fleet of golf carts has been purchased, building repairs are underway, and landscapes across the property are all being repaired and replaced.
Fico plans on opening the course May 1st for golf, with the clubhouse/restaurant opening June 1st. “The outpouring of support from the community is great and we just ask for their continued patience during all of the work going on,” adding “We only get one chance to wow people and we really want to over-deliver.”
Fico said rumors have been flying that the course would become a housing tract, something he and his team wants dispelled.
“Our goal is to bring this course back to life, and let the residents who live here actually feel as though they’re living on a golf course.”
Beyond the visual updates, the new owner has been busy hiring top greens and club staff from around the area with more to come.
Fico also added that he isn’t looking to go private, and truly wants OCC to be a place for the community to come and enjoy. He says the pub, being run by local restaurateur Bill Horeth, has plans on staying up year-round offering dining and banquet facilities.
While the time lines are tight and the projects are plentiful, Fico feels confident that all the work will speak for itself.
“The best advertising we can do is showing the local community that lives on and around the course that we’re commited to improving the property for the long haul.”
More details including hours, opening dates and more can be found on their Facebook page at facebook.com/OntarioCountryClub/
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