Text by Emily Alberts
Photos by Always and Forever Photography
Kevin Campbell and his wife Melissa are quite proud of their decision to buy and renovate Cox’s Driving Range. “It’s an incredible feeling of accomplishment to own and operate my own business,” he says. “I feel like I’ve finally got my freedom.”
Owning a driving range has been a business interest of Kevin’s for more than 20 years. Something about the golf industry appeals to him and being an entrepreneur suits him to a tee. Being able to make all of the day-to-day decisions is one aspect that Campbell finds gratifying. “Well, at least the decisions my wife doesn’t make for me,” he quips.
Kevin and Melissa married after she graduated from George Mason University. “She wore me down. She begged and begged me to marry her,” he jokes. In 2000, they moved from D.C. to Blacksburg to put down roots, and Kevin spent the next 15 years working in the computer software industry, a job that took him all over the country. Melissa is the chief financial officer for NanoSonic in Pembroke. The couple have three beautiful children — ages 8, 10, and 12. However, between Kevin’s constant traveling and Melissa’s demanding schedule, it seemed they were always going in different directions.
“Needless to say, there were a lot of missed sporting events and birthdays,” Kevin laments. They longed for a situation that might be better for their family. It was time for a mulligan. They drove past Cox’s Driving Range all the time, and three years ago Kevin walked in and told the owner, Carlos Cox: “My name is Kevin Campbell, and I am the man who will own this place someday!” Cox’s wasn’t for sale at the time.
Kevin was persistent. “I learned a few techniques selling software to local governments and utilities all those years,” he laughs. “Patience is an important one.” He stopped by every few weeks to say hello and ask questions. Finally, his resolve paid off, and the deal was done. He is not taking this opportunity for granted.
“We have spent nearly $50,000 in renovations this year, and it’s paying off,” he says. They hired Valley Landscaping to renovate the miniature golf course with new sod and river rock, and they outfitted the driving range earlier in the year with 28 yards of concrete and lane dividers. They are still working out the details for the 1,500-square-foot retail space and have considered everything from a restaurant to an arcade.
“Our customers are happy that we’ve been renovating the property,” he says. Cox’s Driving Range has been a staple in the New River Valley since 1985, and the Campbells are proud to keep this tradition alive. The next step is to “fun-up” the mini-golf course with more obstacles. Those miniature golf course renovations will be complete by April next spring. They are updating the prizes for holes-in-one on the mini-golf course and plan to continue the mobile food truck service Cox’s has been offering all year.
“There’s no place in the world I would rather be than with my wife and kids, and I get the best of both worlds owning Cox’s,” Kevin says. “The bus drops my kids off right out front after school. Homework first, before anything else, then they help me run the register or practice golf and baseball. We converted the office into a family room and homework space, and it’s been such a great lifestyle change for our family.” They definitely plan to stay the course.
Emily Alberts is a New River Valley freelance writer and frequent contributor.