Sprawling Fox Hills golf course in Plymouth sold after nearly a half-century in family

·4 min read
The Strategic Fox, pictured, is an 18-hole par-3 course at Fox Hills in Plymouth. It also serves as a footgolf course.
The Strategic Fox, pictured, is an 18-hole par-3 course at Fox Hills in Plymouth. It also serves as a footgolf course.

Fox Hills Golf Course is quite different now than what it was when sisters Kathy Aznavorian and Sandy Mily first stepped foot on it in 1974.

It had just 18 holes and featured the original clubhouse, first built in the 1920s as the Plymouth Country Club. Purchased by their parents, the two sisters eventually became the owners of the Salem Township course at 8768 N. Territorial, just west of Plymouth.

Now, after nearly 50 years in the family, the two women are hanging up their ownership hats.

"We've had a great run," Aznavorian said. "I know that these larger companies like Heritage are purchasing golf courses, and they have more resources than we have."

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Kathy Aznavorian and Sandy Mily walk out of Fox Hills first clubhouse.
Kathy Aznavorian and Sandy Mily walk out of Fox Hills first clubhouse.

Mily and Aznavorian recently sold the course to Virginia-based Heritage Golf Group, which owns private and public courses all over the country. The sale — which took place in July and whose terms were not disclosed — closes a chapter in their lives that has had them oversee massive growth and changes at the public golf course.

The two had their hand in everything, particularly early on: greeting golfers in the parking lot, making meals and more. As Fox Hills got more popular, waits for tee times increased to as much as 45 minutes. They realized it needed to grow. They eventually added several new courses, bringing the number of holes to 63. That includes an 18-hole course made up of par 3 holes, designed to be a better fit for younger players learning the game, as well as a training space for players wanting to practice all of their clubs.

They also added a new clubhouse, making it large enough to host big events throughout the year. The improvements, Mily said, were ones that made Fox Hills a trendsetter when it came to public courses.

"We were really at the vanguard of the whole movement of golf to have upscale golf courses to the public," she said. "Up to that time, it was mid-'80s. The concept of an upscale golf course for the public really didn't exist."

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Fox Hills is at 8768 N Territorial.
Fox Hills is at 8768 N Territorial.

Golf grew for many years, but the course was affected by many of the issues of the 21st century. Beginning with 9/11 and leading into the recession in the late 2000s, times got tough at the course. It came to a head with the COVID-19 pandemic when restrictions at places like golf courses were added temporarily.

Compound that with the current labor shortage in the service industry since the beginning of the pandemic, and the two sisters began thinking it was time to sell.

Sisters Sandy Mily, left, and Kathy Aznavorian have sold Fox Hills Golf and Banquet Center. The two have owned the course in Salem Township for decades.
Sisters Sandy Mily, left, and Kathy Aznavorian have sold Fox Hills Golf and Banquet Center. The two have owned the course in Salem Township for decades.

"So many people have walked away from being in those positions and have never come back. It's been a big struggle," Mily said. "We have been able to pull it together again and we've got people in place and it's all working well. But that's where it kind of pushed us over the edge a little bit."

New owners plan few changes for Fox Hills

Golfers take swings at Fox Hills Golf and Banquet Center.
Golfers take swings at Fox Hills Golf and Banquet Center.

The name on the deed of the property is perhaps the biggest change coming with Heritage Golf Group's ownership, said John Scappatura, a vice president of operations for the company. He said they want to keep everything the local golf community loves about Fox Hills intact, which includes the name, the course and the food.

That approach is a testament to what the sisters built at Fox Hills.

"Right now, our whole goal is to get in here and talk to the people who have been working here for a long time, talk to the customers, find out what things people are interested in," he said. "Our plan is just to continue to improve. They've done such a great job so far."

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Heritage Golf Group kept the entire staff on to continue running the property, which still includes several family members of the former ownership.

One of those workers is Alexis O'Brien, Mily's daughter, who works in marketing for Fox Hills. She said it's going to be different around the course, but said she looked forward to what the company hoped to do.

"I'm really excited for the future with Heritage," she said. "I think they have a lot to kind of bring to the table and bring Fox Hills to the next level."

With retirement comes the opportunity to get involved with some different things that the sisters have wanted to for some time. But for now, it's still hard to realize they've sold the course, even though they were ready.

"There's been a lot of tears. When this thing first happened, it was very bittersweet," Mily said. "After being here my whole life and this is all I have done, it's like 'OK, what will my future be? What will I do?' I have no idea yet."

Kathy Aznavorian shows an old photograph of Fox Hills' original clubhouse built in the 1920s.
Kathy Aznavorian shows an old photograph of Fox Hills' original clubhouse built in the 1920s.

Contact reporter David Veselenak at dveselenak@hometownlife.com or 734-678-6728. Follow him on Twitter @davidveselenak.

This article originally appeared on Hometownlife.com: Fox Hills golf course in Plymouth sold after half-century in family