Entrepreneur Glenn Banning is hoping to make a success of a golf center on the south end of New Milford that hasn't recently drawn a crowd.

To help accomplish that end, Banning has leased a portion of the building to Steve's Deli, a popular eatery and catering company previously located north of its new location along Danbury Road (Route 7 South) for more than 25 years.

For nearly five years, since the Valley Golf Center first entered foreclosure proceedings, the golf business has gone through several operators.

Banning began operating the business last year and moved forward with an option to buy the center in March.

"I really wanted to take a year and see what the numbers were like and what kind of possibilities there might be for the business," said Banning, who worked in television for the past decade before launching the new enterprise. "The center really has a lot of potential."

In addition to a driving range and mini golf, Banning is offering a professional golf shop for equipment sales and club fittings

Stephen Merkel said his Steve's Deli business began to go downhill when the state began a major overhaul of Route 7, including added lanes and a central median.

"My business is all about convenience," he said. "With the new median, I just wasn't that convenient anymore for customers who were driving in the southbound lanes."

Banning said another factor in his decision to upgrade the golf center was the recent closure of the popular Stony Hill Golf Center in Bethel.

That closure meant veteran golf instructor Bob Dugan, Banning's longtime friend, was also available.

"My goal is to offer a family-friendly environment where area residents can have their golf needs met with a personal touch," Banning said. "I want to create something on the site that's never been done before."

In addition to ongoing renovations, Banning said he hopes to add a second floor to a portion of the building so that he can offer at least two indoor bays his customers can use during the winter season.

Banning has also introduced children's summer camps to the business, as well as a Fit for Golf winter exercise program that includes time with both a personal trainer and lessons with Dugan.

"There are still a lot of moving parts, and pieces are still coming together," Banning said, "but we believe this business and this property will have a great future."

dperrefort@newstimes.com; 203-731-3358; www.twitter.com/DirkPerrefort

Photography by Tyler Sizemore