- The success of big box stores and corporations means family businesses are more difficult to come by.One place in the Northwoods is not only family owned, but has been for generations."It's home, sure," say Al and Judy Bromann.Pinewood Country Club in Harshaw feels like home for the Bromann family.
It's been in their family since it opened in 1962 - when they carved the course out of potato fields."They looked at it one day, and my mother got a little tired of looking at my dad, and she said, 'do something.' That's what he did," says Al."They were cutting fairways with a Jeep, towing three gang mowers behind it," remembers Chip Bromann.Al Bromann Jr. and his wife Marie got the course started, followed by Al III and Judy.Now it's Al IV - or as everyone knows him, Chip."I can remember walking 45 holes a day with my bag on my back, and the golf course was a lot different back then, but, yeah, we spent a lot of time out here," says Chip.Some of Al Jr.'s more quirky ideas the early 60s wouldn't have flown on a new course today."His first idea was to put all of the greens in holes so he wouldn't have to water them," says Al III.These days, it's tricky enough to find any business that's family owned anymoreBut a golf course that's been in the same family for three generations is truly unique"We're very proud of being a third generation. When I tell people that, they just kind of look at me and ask me again, 'what was that?' And I say, yeah, third generation," Chip says.But to be family at Pinewood, you don't have to be blood."With our business today, I've known everybody that's gone off," Chip says on this Friday. "I've known everybody that's been on the first tee so far.""A lot of them that are still playing today can remember the years before water, when big hills were brown and the ground was dry," Judy says."Meeting old friends, making new friends, that's really what it's all about. I really enjoy doing that," says Chip.That's something the Bromanns have been doing for 51 years.
Story By: Ben Meyer