Experienced industry professional looks to the future of The Mines

Experienced industry professional looks to the future of The Mines

Text: Brenna Buckwald // Photography: H3 Designs

Chris Sobieck, business owner and operator of The Mines Golf Course, recently purchased the 18-hole course in Walker, Michigan in March of 2021, after a long history of experience working in the golf industry.  

Up until his purchase of The Mines, Sobieck had previously served as general manager at The Golf Club at Thornapple Pointe since 2001, as well as general manager at Watermark Golf Properties—now known as part of the golf properties within the RedWater Collection—since 2017 when the company purchased The Golf Club at Thornapple Pointe, adding it to their portfolio of courses.

Sobieck noted that working at Watermark Golf Properties made him realize some career goals and desires of his own that were lacking in the previous role, prompting him to start thinking of alternative career options. Around November of 2020, discussion of Sobieck buying The Mines Golf Course ensued, as the former owner was looking to sell the property. In January of 2021, Sobieck and the previous owner of the course came to an agreement, and the deal was finalized on March 1st of 2021.

“It has been great, honestly. I couldn’t have asked for a better year to buy the golf course. The weather was excellent, and golf has regained some popularity with COVID-19; it was the only thing people could do, so the millennial group has become more interested and attached to golf,” Sobieck said.

Named after the gypsum mines portions of the course are built 150 feet above, The Mines is a par-70 course, featuring 18 holes of rolling bluegrass fairways, undulating bentgrass greens, and increased playability with four different sets of tees. The land is highlighted by mature hardwoods and sandy soils.

As the golf course initially opened in 2005, some of the features of the gypsum mines and mining process were utilized in the construction of the course, such as the water that irrigates the course being pumped directly from the mines.

“This is a really great golf course, The Mines. The more I am on it, the more I like it. For being downtown Grand Rapids, you would never know it. It is like you are up north,” Sobieck said. “The terrain changes dramatically; there is 70 to 80 feet of elevation change throughout the property.”

Sobieck indicated that one of his goals for the future of The Mines is to build a banquet facility, hopefully within the next year or so. The extended space would allow the golf course to host events such as corporate dinners and weddings.

“This is what I have done my whole life; golf is very important to me. I am also a high school golf coach and a college golf coach, so I live and breathe golf every day and not because of golf itself, but because I see the positive effects that golf can have on people,” Sobieck said.

“Golf is just a great sport that everyone can play. There is no restriction. You don’t have to be fast; you don’t have to be tall—anyone can play golf. It [offers] a lot of opportunity, and it is just what we, as in my family, love to do,” Sobieck added.

Photography: H3 Designs
Photography: H3 Designs

First published in The Golf Explorer: Michigan’s Journal to Incredible Golf, 2022