Skyway seems to draw in quite an eclectic group. Any celebrities tee off here? I know you have to have that one you can’t resist bragging about.
Stephen Mills: Not really, I mean Anita Marks comes out and plays golf out here. She works on a radio show for ESPN, and she plays out here a good bit.
So from what you have told me, quite a variety of people have come and enjoyed the course. In your opinion,
how viable would you say the golf course is to the city?
Stephen Mills: Very. About 20% of our play comes from Manhattan. A lot of early morning guys would come out here to play, and a lot of afternoon guys come out here to play. It’s usually mid-day we don’t see them, but it’s either early morning, or late afternoon or weekends that we see the guys from the city.
Wow, so people are coming from Manhattan just to play the course. That’s very impressive. I don’t know about them, but the commute wasn’t too bad in the afternoon to get here for me. How would you rate the commute to Skyway for a first time traveler?
Stephen Mills: For me, it’s not too bad. I live down the turnpike a little bit. It doesn’t take me very long to get here. Most of the people here in Hudson County Uber. That’s about a third of our business, believe it or not, are people who are Ubering here. That Lyft share really helps out people needing a ride to get here and keeps the travel simple.
I definitely can see how that would contribute to keeping the business running smoothly. Besides a simple commute, what does it take to make Skyway so successful?
Stephen Mills: You have to have a good staff, a very friendly staff. The staff is really what helps to bring the customers back. The other good thing is the county, and the HCIA, they put money back into the golf course which is great. In the last couple of years, we’ve actually put up a banquet facility, a banquet tent. This year the undertaking is going to be locker rooms. We’re building
an addition onto the trailer here putting in locker rooms so the men and ladies will be able to have showers.
Some major renovations are on the horizon for you. What sort of events does Skyway hold currently?
Stephen Mills: We do a lot of charity events for fraternal organizations, medical organizations, and just fundraisers. We have a First Tee Program here, which is great. It caters to all children whether they can afford the program or not. The program is not very expensive. If they can’t afford the $50 then a scholarship is provided because we don’t want to, you know, keep kids from
learning how to play the game if they don’t know how to play the game, or have the means to play the game. We provide everything we can clubs, balls, tees…everything we possibly can for them. We did the Hudson County Amateur over the summer, and we raised funds for the Special Olympics. It was the first year we did it trying to gain sponsorship. I believe that we brought in a little over $1,200 that we donated to the Special Olympics. It wasn’t a lot, but it was our first year doing it, and we expect it to
grow in the future.
With all the events being held outside talk to me about the weather. How has it been affecting Skyway’s business?
Stephen Mills: Well, the great thing about this golf course is it drains. It’s got to be one of the best-draining golf courses in the country. Just the way that it was built, with the two-foot sand cap underneath, it just sucks the water up like a sponge. Which is good, it helps us out because even after an inch of rain in an hour golfers can probably get back out there within 15 to 20 minutes to actually play. There’s not a lot of standing water on the golf course so that helps.
Well that’s good to hear considering the major snow hell that’s coming tomorrow! Tell me about Skyway’s
plans for Golf 2018.
Stephen Mills: Golf for 2018. Well with the banquet facility we do plan on doing more evening time events, leagues, couple’s leagues, men’s leagues. We’re going to be doing more creative events. April 4th we’re actually doing a Par 3 tournament, we’re going to make the golf course all par 3s. We’re gonna serve master’s theme food, drinks. The masters do an annual event where they bring all the golfers to their par 3 course, they can bring their families out and children can caddy for them. We’re gonna do
the same thing, it’s just our way to grow the game here. The food aspect, theming after the masters should help out, and doing it during the evening does help. Morning events, we actually do what we call a morning meeting event. We try do it at least once a month, if not twice a month. It tees off at sunrise, so if sunrise is at 5:30 AM, we tee off at 5:30 AM, and we feed them breakfast too.
One of the things I love about Skyway seems very customer oriented. Here’s my last question for you: What distinguishes you from other golf courses in the local area?
Stephen Mills: What distinguishes us….The level of service. Even though we are a 9 hole municipal golf course and there is a stigma about, you know, a lot of 9 hole courses are municipal courses, but we the staff, we treat everybody like their a member you know at a country club. We really try not to spare any expense on that. We try to retain all of our customers, treat them like
family. Retaining our customers is really the big thing.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I can’t wait to try the course out on my spring break.
Stephen Mills: Thank you, and stop by anytime.