New owners, new heights: Golf industry veteran has big plans for Fox Ridge

New Fox Ridge Golf Club Co-Owner Gene Hoffman (left) and manager Ben Biersner (right) pose for a photo in front of the clubhouse last week. Hoffman and Scott Covalt recently purchased the business from the Menke family of Ottumwa. (Robert Maharry/The Grundy Register photo)


Gene Hoffman has golfed all over the world—even spending 12 years in Australia—and seen more courses than most people could dream of throughout his career in the golf industry dating back to 1973. But with his latest move and acquisition, Hoffman— an Army veteran who grew up in Columbus, Ohio—truly believes he’s found something special right here in Dike, Iowa.


Hoffman and business partner Scott Covalt recently finalized the purchase of the Fox Ridge Golf Club from the Menke family of Ottumwa, and while they feel that the course is already successful, they’re excited to “improve it in every way, shape and form” in the near future.


While Hoffman’s expertise centers on the game itself and day-to-day operations, Covalt has made a name for himself as a commercial real estate developer in the Fort Collins-Denver-Colorado Springs corridor, one of the fastest growing areas in the United States, and Tennessee. Additionally, he previously owned Warehouse Liquidators outlet stores that sold golf equipment and a pro shop in Loveland, a large suburb of Fort Collins, and he sees his business partner’s skill set as a natural complement to his own.


“We knew that as soon as we met each other,” Covalt said.


After becoming friends in Colorado, Hoffman and Covalt decided about a year ago that they should team up, and the rest, as they say, is history. Through a broker, they discovered Fox Ridge, a relatively new 18-hole course in a region neither man had much familiarity with, researched it, made a few visits and ultimately pulled the trigger.


Initial plans include getting more involved in the Dike community (Hoffman has already settled in a nearby townhouse) and offering more perks for members while still welcoming players who pay green fees. Hoffman is sure to note, however, that he hopes to build upon what’s already a strong foundation.


“The basics of the golf course are (at) a higher standard than what you would normally expect in a small town like Dike,” he said. “We’re going to keep our eyes open and try to continue to build, build, build.”


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