After all that, you might expect to find a down-on-his luck business operator.
But not Olive. And he won’t accept that from his customers either.
“I saw an opportunity,” said Olive, 44, about running the business. “I knew it was a place where people could come and forget, and feel like they belonged and were cared for.”
Olive, who comes across as upbeat, engaged and appreciative, said that’s an important distinction for his business.
“I want people to come here and feel part of something,” he said.
The business, which occupies Port of Olympia property near Olympia Regional Airport, got its start in 1993, previous owner Eric Rowe said. The driving range opened that year, followed by the nine-hole golf course in 1996. Rowe sold the business in 1997, he said.
Things with the new owner didn’t work out, so Rowe agreed to come back and manage the property. Olive eventually began to volunteer at the business – because of his love for the game of golf, Rowe said – then took over operations in about April 2011.
Since then, Olive has invested significantly in the business, upgrading the 300-yard lighted range, the course, the pro shop, the landscaping that surrounds the business and even added space for golf club repairs.
“He has really put his money where his mouth is,” Rowe said, adding that Olive has sacrificed a ton of his own time to make improvements. Business has improved as a result, Olive said.
Another change has been the addition of sports memorabilia that Olive has collected over the years, including his shrine to former NBA great Michael Jordan. Among his collection is a section of the basketball court that Jordan used to play on in Chicago.
Although the business has shown improvement, Olive still is working on his marketing. He said he has met people who live nearby, but had no idea his business was in the area.
Airport Golf & Batting Center
Owner: Jeff Olive
Location: 8080 Center St. SW, Tumwater
Years in business: The driving range opened in 1993.
Services: Driving range, nine-hole golf course, batting cages, pro shop and golf club repairs.
Hours: Fall/winter hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays and weekends. Spring/summer hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays and weekends.
Some costs: A bucket of 55 golf balls costs $6; a bucket of 120 balls $9.50. It costs $10 to play the nine-hole golf course; $12 on weekends.
Famous faces: Former Seattle Mariners Brian Hunter and Jose Cruz Jr. are past customers.
Did you know? Jeff Olive was a longtime mental health counselor before he took over operations of the business, first working with juveniles and then developmentally disabled adults at Western State Hospital in Lakewood. He left the mental health counseling profession after minor surgery on his knee didn’t go as planned. He nearly lost his left leg and had to relearn to walk, he said.Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/bizblog