PLAIN TWP. – Oakwood Country Club didn’t start off as a golf course.
A dozen friends who enjoyed hunting and fishing spent weekends at a cottage near Navarre called the Wade Inn. They relocated north in 1922 when Henry Firestone granted them a stretch of land on his farm.
Founding members paid $100 each, then used the money to buy materials and build a clubhouse. In 1924, they built the first three golf holes, and by 1929 had a nine-hole golf course.
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A century later the private club at 6875 Firestone Avenue NE still exists. Grandchildren of some of the original founders are club members.
“When you come out here, it’s just fun,” said Tim Franta, co-owner of Canton sign.
“We get to know each other,” said Franta, a member for 17 years and club president the past three years. “It’s like a family.”
The club follows a constitution created by the charter members and is managed by a seven-member board. Currently there are 58 memberships — families, couples and individuals — and generally the number doesn’t rise beyond 75 memberships.
As with most clubs, there is a fee to join and annual dues to help cover costs. Members strive to hold true to the founders’ desire for a club that provided “social entertainment, good fellowship and healthy recreation.”
There are no regular employees and grounds maintenance is contracted to Gage Brothers Property Management.
Members, their families and friends built the clubhouse and golf course. Through the years members have expanded and maintained the property.
Bill Leed, a retired veterinarian from North Canton, said members reclaimed wood paneling and light fixtures from the old First National Bank building in Canton and used the materials in the ballroom at the clubhouse. Members added a grill room in 1947.
Leed’s grandfather, William H. Leed, was a founding member who helped build the club and golf course, and his father, Robert, also was a member.
Founding member Bill Clark is credited with introducing golf to the club. Other members liked the game and decided to roll swampy pastures and build the first three holes. Another founder, George Wade, is said to have hit the first drive on July 4, 1929, when play started on the present nine holes.
The course is a par 30, with six par 3s and three par 4s. Hole No. 4 is considered the signature hole because it’s the only “island green” in Stark County. Or has Franta noted, it’s the moat hole that offers two chances to hit into water.
There are no tee times at Oakwood Country Club, although Wednesdays are set aside as men’s day and Thursday is ladies’ day until 4 pm Members show up and play.
Jesse Pittman, a Hoover retiree and member since 1968, said he often would stop on the way home from work to play three holes. Play is casual and low key, Franta said.
In addition to golf, members enjoy weekly card games and monthly euchre tournaments. Theme parties are held though the year.
Through the years members considered adding other amenities and discussed buying property nearby to create an 18-hole course. But they opted to keep things small.
Historically members have belonged to other clubs, while playing at Oakwood because it’s fun, Franta said. “We’re a social club with a golf course.”
Trail helps shoppers discover Hartville
The tourism division of Lake Township’s Chamber of Commerce has launched a map and online shopping guide that features antique shops and thrift stores in Hartville.
The Hartville Antique & Thrift Trail takes shoppers on a self-guided tour of 16 businesses where they can find antiques, vintage and resale clothing, home decor, and handmade items. There also are collectible and flea market finds.
The trail promotes shops in the village as an addition to the Hartville Marketplace and Flea Market, which sees close to 1 million visitors each year.
Many shops on the trail are found in a two mile stretch between the Hartville Marketplace and the village’s historic downtown area. Several of the shops are within walking distance of the village center.
The trail guide developed because of growing requests the chamber receives for lists of antique and resale shops in the area. There is a growing trend that combines visiting small communities with thrift shopping, antique hunting and searching for collectibles, chamber officials said.
Phil Stauffer, general manager of the Hartville Thrift Shoppe, said searching for antiques and resale items has continually grown.
“Some people make a business of thrifting, finding a deal, and reselling,” Stauffer said in a release promoting the trail. He cited a trend among younger people to thrift shop for affordable, interesting and vintage fashion, as well as search for children’s clothing.
Lake Township Chamber officials hope the antique and thrift trail will encourage shoppers to visit several stores, and possibly visit more than just once. Hartville is the perfect place to spend a day of two scouring the shops on the trail, said Megan Wise, discover Hartville tourism coordinator.
Hall of Fame Resort announces new sales, marketing executive
An experienced sports marketing executive has been added to the Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment management team.
Vic Gregovitsas recently moved into the job of executive vice president of sales and marketing. He reports to Michael Crawford, president and CEO.
Gregovitsas will be tasked with extending the Hall of Fame Village brand to sponsors, consumers and the local community. He’ll oversee the company’s strategic marketing efforts and focus on developing new sponsor and partner agreements with the company’s three business units.
Crawford said Gregovitsas has more than 32 years experience in marketing with a variety of professional sports teams and leagues. He joins Hall of Fame Resort after working with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the USL men’s soccer league.