Working with his older brothers at Skyland Pines was a summer vacation job for Dave Mickley while he waited to be shipped to Vietnam.
Mickley was only 23 years old and had been out of college for a couple of years. Mickley was teaching at Jackson High School the year before, but he didn’t like the job. He also knew that military service was imminent.
Older brothers Carl – known as Bud – and Louis Mickley bought the Highland golf course at auction in late 1968. They had plans to modernize the sprinkler system, rejuvenate the clubhouse and improve the driving range.
Before the 1969 season began, the Mickley brothers and their wives decided to rename the then 40-year-old course. They chose Skyland Pines because of the open views and the abundance of pine trees, said Dave, who lives in North Canton.
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Skyland tragic accident
Dave recalls mowing towards the south end of the course when someone approached with a golf cart. Louis had been injured. They rushed back to a shed that housed a 3,000 gallon water tank.
An electrician and Louis worked on the tank the day before and installed a pump. A pressure relief valve did not work and caused the tank to explode.
According to reports, part of the tank blew up the north wall of the shed. Another large section struck Louis.
Dave remembers approaching the shed and saw his brother try to get up but he couldn’t. An ambulance was called and Dave drove Louis to Mercy Hospital, but it was too late.
“I think he was gone. He was just gone, ”said Dave.
Mickley family businessmen
The Mickley family had 10 children, Dave being the youngest. His older brothers Louis and Carl were business people.
Louis owned the PDQ, a drive-in eatery on US Route 62, and his brother Gary ran the place. He was also president of the Stark County’s Restaurant Association. Before buying the restaurant, Louis worked as a lineman at Ohio Power.
Carl ran CN Mickley Plumbing & Heating and employed his brothers Tom and Jim.
Louis also enjoyed playing golf and had competed in the Stark County amateur tournament. That may have played a role in the decision to buy the course, but most likely Louis and Carl saw the course as a business opportunity, Dave said.
The Mickley family’s association with the golf course did not last long after Louis’ death.
According to a March 1970 article in the Repository, Carl sold his stake to Nina Mickley, Louis’ widow. The couple had only been married a few years before Louis died.
In December 1972, The Repository reported that Nina was selling the course to Salvatore “Junior” DePietro.
At that time, Dave Mickley had served in Vietnam as a member of the 101st Airborne. He returned and accepted a job with the Ohio Parole Department.
Highland history in Stark County
According to repository stories, golf arrived in Stark County in 1900.
Elizabeth Harter decided to dig holes on her family’s farm on the west side of Canton along the road to Massillon. For several years, local residents played the course called Highland Links.
In the 1920s, the canton’s business leaders began building golf courses. Brookside Country Club started in Perry Township near Meyers Lake before the developers decided to move north. Tam O’Shanter opened in Jackson Township.
In Plain Township, northeast of Canton, Clark E. Bordner, a local real estate developer, had Fred Buckius designed a 6,200-yard, par-72 course.
Bordner had a competition to name the course and there were several hundred suggestions, according to the newspaper. William H. Cox, a manager at Stark Dry Goods, won on the “Highland” submission because the course was built on highlands.
The 43-year-old Bordner owned it only for a short time. He was among a foursome that played on June 9, 1929. After making fun of having fun with others in the foursome, Bordner collapsed and died after hitting his approach shot on the 17th hole.
Skyland Pines timeline
A look back at the history of the Skyland Pines property:
June 1928 The golf course opens northeast of Canton along the newly paved Canton Alliance Road, also known as Harrisburg Road. The 110 hectare area was part of SP Eby’s farm. Clark E. Folder built the course designed by Fred Buckius.
June 1929 When playing with a foursome, Clark E. Bordner collapses near the 17th green. He dies before he reaches Mercy Hospital.
November 1939 The original clubhouse is destroyed in a fire.
April 1940 The story of the Canton Repository tells of Iva Metzger and her children who are taking the lead on the course. Metzger is SP Eby’s granddaughter. Dr. OL Sommer, another descendant of Eby, is a co-owner of the course.
January 1952 Akron’s Warren Miller takes over the operation of the golf course.
January 1956 The course is purchased by Warren Miller of Neighbor Inc., a company operated by Jack G. Neighbor of 37th Street NW. Dick Kempthorn, AB Clark of Steel Specialties, and local attorney Dan M. Belden are listed as officers with Neighbor Inc.
January 1965 Parr Enterprises is acquiring the course.
September 1968 Carl “Bud” Mickley and Louis Mickley purchase the course after the initial purchase.
April 1969 The course will reopen under new management and renamed Skyland Pines.
July 1969 A water tank explodes, fatally injuring Louis Mickley.
March 1970 Nina Mickley, Louis’ widow, buys Carl Mickley’s share of the business.
December 1973 Salvatore Joseph “Junior” DiPietro buys Skyland Pines from Nina Mickley.
February 1976 Skyland Pines adds a banquet room and swimming pool.
April 1977 Skyland Pines is annexed by Canton.
June 1978 Voters approve liquor for sale at Skyland Pines facilities.
February 2005 Pool and tennis courts are removed.
December 2005 The DiPietro family is considering the option of developing properties for housing but the plans are canceled.
April 2007 The DiPietro family sells the course to Mike Monastra.
January 2013 DiPietro family buyback course.
May 2021 The course owners are calling for the property to be rededicated for light industrial use. Steve DiPietro said the change is necessary to better position the property if an opportunity arises.
July 2021 Steve Dipietro confirms that Skyland Pines will be sold and developed. The course ends on September 6th.
August 2021 Plans made available to the cantonal building authority show that a 1 million square meter warehouse is planned for the golf course property.
September 6, 2021 The final rounds will be played at Skyland Pines.