Throughout the next few weeks Atlantic City Golf Vacations will be highlighting Atlantic City area golf courses and what they wave to offer, today we are spotlighting Eagle Ridge Golf Club in Lakewood, NJ. ER is the perfect choice for those of you traveling from the North to play on your way down to AC or on your way home heading north.
History & Awards
Kokes Family BuildersThe Kokes family opened the original golf course in June 1999. With its early success, the Kokes family again commissioned Brian Ault to create a third nine to compliment his original 18-hole design on the adjacent property. That property was once an ultra light airport and the Lakewood municipal landfill that was closed in the early 80′s. Now, some 20 years later the Kokes family is proud to have reclaimed the property and return it to the community as the new Links nine. Eagle Ridge now has 3 signature nines; the original 18 holes, Ridge & Pines and now the new Links nine that make up 27-holes of championship golf for you to enjoy.
The Kokes family story begins with roots in Eastern Europe and evolves into the family home building business of today. Three generations of Kokes family members have carried on a tradition that includes a solid work ethic, closeness with family and friends, and a company that is known for its attention to detail and caring for not only staff, but the people who settle in a Kokes home in one of their communities.
Miroslav Kokes lived the first nearly three decades of his life in Czechoslovakia, his birthplace. The son of a wealthy property owner married his wife, Irene in 1941. Their homeland became foreign to them following the Communist takeover of the Czech government in 1945 and the subsequent Russian occupation in 1946. Miroslav, his wife and two sons, Jan and Jerry, fled Czechoslovakia for the border of Germany. They left their home with just the clothes on their back. The following two years were difficult as the Kokes family moved from one refugee camp to another.
By 1949, Miroslav, who was just 28 years old, made the decision to come to America with Irene and the two boys. The overseas journey was difficult, made even harder because the family was penniless, not unlike many of the immigrants who were flocking to America to escape the Communist regime. Miroslav adopted his American name, Mike. He and the family settled in the Bayside section of Queens, New York.
There hard times continued as Mike would rise before dawn and walk to his job digging ditches 10 hours a day. His weekly pay check netted the family just $60. His next job took him into Manhattan where he waited tables at the University Club. In his spare time, Mike was researching chicken farming which became the next chapter in the Kokes family story.
After saving every penny he could for several years, in 1952, Mike Kokes bought 10 acres of land in Howell, New Jersey. His father had also come to America and both became chicken farmers raising the flock of 200 to sell eggs. Their business continued to grow over the next several years, but the price of eggs dropped causing hardship once again. The chicken farming also aggravated Mike Kokes’ asthma. He developed pneumonia and ultimately was forced to sell the farming business in 1957. That decision was a critical turning point in Mike Kokes business life. He had begun renovating buildings. But why renovate when you can create homes for people? Mike Kokes sold his first Precut homes in 1956.
In 1963, Mike Kokes partnered with a friend and bought 150 acres of heavily-wooded land in Manchester, New Jersey in Ocean County, and set out to build a 1,000-unit adult retirement community they called Crestwood Village The company sold 73 houses in the first year by advertising in German newspapers. Their business was booming, but they could not satisfy the demand for the homes, so some people wanted their deposits back.
Over the next 47 years, the company became The Kokes Organization which would construct more than 20,000 all-age and 55+ housing, apartments and mobile homes, 60 miles of road, two service stations, four shopping centers, an assisted living complex, two medical centers, a water and sewer company, real estate offices and two golf courses.
Mike’s son, Jan graduated college in 1967 and joined the business. Mike assigned Jan the task of helping build Crestwood Village. Jerry Kokes followed his brother into the family company in 1971.
Today, the company is led by Jan Kokes as president with his brother Jerry by his side as senior vice president. Jerry’s son-in-law, Jeff Mead has been with the company since 1995. Jerry’s son, Jereme joined the family business in 2006 followed by Jerry’s daughter, Danielle Kokes-Algeo in 2007. The future of Kokes Family Home Builders is continuing with other projects in development stages in Ocean County.