Owners / Managers

          Kit Hetrick and Pat Wiedle are Co-Owners of Sleepy Hollow Golf Course

This article was originally published in "The News-Messenger" Aug 6, 2007 (Fremont , OH)

Clyde woman teaches year-round

Sleepy Hollow co-owner splits time between links and classroom

News-Messenger correspondent

Pat Wiedle is co-owner of Sleepy Hollow and also teaches golf lessons.

Residence: Clyde
Age: 58
Family: Lifelong partner, Kit Hetrick; parents, Howard and Rita Wiedle
Occupation: Co-owner of Sleepy Hollows Golf Course
Hobbies: Cross country skiing; "working in a vacation so we can finally play golf"

Pat Wiedle thought she would someday be a high school French or English teacher, with summer vacations every year. For nearly 30 years, she's been teaching, but that summer-break plan never materialized. That's because since 1978, Wiedle has been the teaching professional at Sleepy Hollow Golf Course near Clyde. And for almost two decades, she's been a co-owner there. The combination makes for very long days from March through early December, but it also allows her to teach the sport she loves and watch others enjoy it as well.

The lifelong Clyde resident grew up in the house just across the road from the course on Ohio 101. But when she was a little girl, the land was covered with beans and corn, not golf carts and sand traps.

Her parents, Howard and Rita Wiedle, were farmers. It was a family friend who suggested they look at converting their acreage into a golf course. "He said, 'You have this big farm with a creek running through it,' " she recalled. "And back then, farming was kind of go big or get out. So my parents decided to make the change then."

The course opened in 1961, when Wiedle was 12. "I grew up on the golf course," she recalled. "I was always around, and I played in a few junior tournaments."

After graduating from York School in 1967, Wiedle left the course behind and attended Heidelberg College in Tiffin. There she majored in English and French, heading toward a career in teaching.

But after graduation and a brief time as a restaurant manager, she returned to Sleepy Hollow to help her parents run the course.

Duffy Bricker was the club pro at the time. He was the first to give lessons there and got the leagues started. He also worked for the railroad in Bellevue. And one day, in 1978, he had an idea. He told Wiedle that they could share the teaching responsibilities for Sleepy Hollow. She could teach during the day and he could continue the evening lessons. When he unexpectedly died soon after, Wiedle became the only teaching professional at the course and remains so today.

She also helped her parents with the bookkeeping, clubhouse duties and tournaments. Ten years later, in 1988, her father was 71-years-old and ready to slow down. He decided to sell Sleepy Hollow. "In a way, I didn't want him to sell it because we grew up here from the farm to the golf course," Wiedle said. "Gee, I didn't want to let it go."

It was about that time that Wiedle's lifelong companion, Kit Hetrick, was looking for a way to move back to the area from Pittsburgh. He grew up in Bellevue and his parents were still there. And he was familiar with the course. His love of golf began in his childhood on the fairways and greens of Sleepy Hollow.

"We talked about buying it, and then we made that commitment," Wiedle said. "He told me I was one expensive date."

Hetrick is the course superintendent and oversees the daily operations, such as mowing and maintenance. Wiedle, besides serving as the teaching pro, handles the pro shop and the bookkeeping. Any business decisions are made together.

Usually one of them is at the course when its open. That can mean 14- or 15-hour days. "The days are long, but they go fast," Wiedle said. "I don't think any two days are alike." And during the season, there is no such thing as a weekend off or a vacation day.

"We'll take a break within a day, but not a whole day," she said, and then added with a laugh, "The other night we went out for a hot-fudge sundae."

Often the couple will run errands together just to have the chance to "catch up and regroup," Wiedle said. But she's quick to point out that the success of the golf course is due in large part to their employees. "We are blessed with excellent help, both outside and inside," Wiedle said. "I know they've helped increase the business this year."

Most of those who take lessons from Wiedle know who she is or have been referred by a satisfied customer. Occasionally, her gender has surprised an unsuspecting male golfer. She's one of only three female teaching pros in the area. "They may give me a glance," she said. "That's just a challenge to turn around someone who might be inclined to think that way. But when we get to work and they see the improvement, it's all about making progress."

Wiedle gets a sense of satisfaction from being able to share her love of the game and promote the sport. "It's great to see all groups get involved, from five-year-olds up to my dad playing at age 90," she said. "To see that camaraderie.

"I think the biggest reward is getting to see someone else enjoying themselves and having a good time. To give a lesson and see someone improve or to see an outing or a family out golfing. That's probably the best reward."

Wiedle doesn't have many chances to watch golf on television, but she certainly has her favorite professionals. Tiger Woods was her first choice. "He has done so much for golf, and we have the same birthday," she said. "I admire the way he has the focus in his game, and his record is so impressive. He's also a great role model. He works with kids in the First Tee program."

Wiedle is very happy to see how women's professional golf has grown. Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam are among her favorites. She's played a couple of the signature golf courses in the world. Right after college, she took a trip to Europe and was able to play the fabled St. Andrews course in England. She and Kit played at Pebble Beach in California before they bought Sleepy Hollow. "It would be nice to repeat that," she said.

Now, if they get a break in the winter, they combine fun and business in Florida. "We get to golf and also see how others run their courses," she said. "We learn new things, but it also makes us appreciate what we do well here."

So, who's the better golfer? "I'll say Kit is," Wiedle smiled. "That way, he'll have to give me strokes when we play next."

While golf is a game to some and a business for others, Wiedle also sees it as much more. "Some of the best therapy can be playing golf," she said. "Just being able to get out there and play is a blessing. Enjoy the companionship and the course. "You can learn a lot about yourself. Enjoy that journey." Wiedle has.

   This article was originally published in "The News-Messenger" Aug 6, 2007 (Fremont , OH)

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