Cleveland Metroparks to Buy Ironwood Golf Course

In a unanimous vote during its January 19th board meeting, the Cleveland Metroparks agreed to buy the 150+ acre Ironwood Golf Course in Hinckley for $3 million.

According to the terms of the agreement, the golf course will remain in operation for at least 10 years after the close of the sale. But obtaining and operating another golf property is not the primary reason behind the Metroparks’ purchase – especially given Ironwood’s close proximity to their existing Sleepy Hollow and Seneca properties.

No, this purchase is about a river.

The East Branch of the Rocky River (EBRR) runs through the far east corner of Ironwood, between and across the 13th, 14th and 15th holes in the property’s lowest elevations. Bigger than a creek but not quite a river, the water comes in from the Brecksville Reservation to the north and heads out south toward the giant lake at Hinckley Reservation.

Preserving the EBRR, its tributaries and other sensitive resources within the 3,000+ acres of Hinckley Reservation is the reason why the Metroparks is buying Ironwood Golf Course.

In 2003, the Metroparks completed their EBRR Greenway Study. Since then, the Board has made several property acquisitions along the EBRR corridor between Brecksville and Hinckley. The purchase of Ironwood is simply another such acquisition.

From the Background information presented to the Board about Ironwood:

“The Ironwood Property is in close proximity to existing high-quality resources, as it’s situated in an area that supports groundwater-driven primary headwater streams and Category 3 wetlands. The Ironwood Property presents an excellent opportunity for stream restoration projects. The acquisition of the Ironwood Property will enhance the EBRR corridor and associated tributary streams, create core natural resource areas along the river, and build upon the connections between Hinckley, Mill Stream Run, and Brecksville Reservations.

This is an important acquisition for the Rocky River watershed, preservation of the Ironwood Property will conserve greenspace along the EBRR, and expand upon this important corridor.”

So in essence, the Cleveland Metroparks purchased Ironwood Golf Course to make sure Ironwood was never turned into a housing development, as a development would have put additional strain on the EBRR.

The par-3 sixth hole at Ironwood.
The par-3 sixth hole at Ironwood.

According to Ironwood Golf Course owner Bob Brown, the deal is set to close later this summer and the Metroparks will take over operation after the 2023 golf season is completed, on November 1st. Bob will share the proceeds of the sale with his brother, Charles.

The purchase price includes all personal property associated with the operation and maintenance of the golf course, including ten vintage golf carts. Owner Bobby Brown also carved a sweet 10 year deal for his own golf game through a contractual caveat: “…during which time the Seller may play the course without charge.” Solid negotiating there.

Brown also made sure to help the current Ironwood employees find future work, as the terms state the Metroparks will “use all reasonable efforts to retain the employees of the golf course”.

A purchase price of $3 million sounds like a significant amount, but once the proceeds are split between the two brothers and the taxes are paid on the sale, the net result isn’t a huge windfall for 56 years of day-to-day management worries. But the end result still pleases Bobby Brown.

“Ironwood has been a golf course belonging to the Brown family since 1967,” said Bobby. “When the Cleveland Metroparks contacted us about buying the Ironwood property, my brother and I said we would sell providing they kept it a golf course. They agreed and they will take over operations in November 2023. We are hoping that all our great employees stay on.”

“I am sure the Metroparks will do a great job and everyone will still enjoy the golf course in 2024 and beyond,” Mr. Brown continued. “We would also like to thank everyone for their many years of golfing at Ironwood. We appreciate all of you.”

Cleveland Metroparks Golf will release a statement on their plans for the ongoing operations of Ironwood Golf Course shortly after their November take over.

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Allen Freeman

Allen is editor and publisher of Northern Ohio Golf.

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