Mass Golf's 125 Series: 1899-2024 - MASSGOLF

Mass Golf Member Clubs Celebrate 125 Years of History

The 125 series is back for 2024! Last year we recognized five Mass Golf member clubs who celebrated their 125 years of operation in 2023. Now we’re celebrating six additional clubs that debuted before the turn of the century in 1899 — Bellevue Golf Club, Franklin Country Club, Hatherly Country Club, Siasconset Golf Course, Wenham Country Club, and Woods Hole Golf Club. To recognize this feat, Mass Golf has produced a profile on each club and chronicled how their historic grounds have made an impact on the golf community, both in the past and present.

If you have any historic photos or memorabilia or simply want to share personal memories affiliated with these clubs, we want to hear from you. Send an email to

All stories are published on this page.

SIASCONSET GOLF COURSE (published 6/28/2024)

Perched near the edge of Nantucket Island like a well-kept secret, Siasconset Golf Course is more than just a haven for golf enthusiasts—it’s a living monument to the island’s history and the enduring pursuit of leisure amidst its rugged beauty.

Siasconset Golf Course (often shortened to Sconset by Nantucketers and regular visitors) features nine holes and an iconic clubhouse that has long been sought by golf wanderers and enthusiasts seeking a place where the game can be played in its most classic form. Its minimalist design — with its lengthy grass, natural hazards, and minuscule, ovular greens — might make one feel like they’ve entirely transported across the Atlantic to the British Isles.

In the spirit of traditional golf, the only requirement has been to show up. Now tee times can be made online. Of course, getting there has always been much easier said than done when you consider trekking 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod and then seven additional miles east near the summer colony of Siasconset.

Its names — including Old Siasconset, Skinners, Sconset — are as varied as the people who have played through its 125 years. In the early days, some of the game’s greats, plus well-known actors and politicians, made Sconset their retreat. But at its heart, the club is where generations of hardy islanders have learned the game and are willing to share it with all combers.

Siasconset aka Sconset Golf Course is a sporty course on the eastern edge of Nantucket. (Sconset Golf)

“Now, although many of us have our home clubs, and some enjoy more perfect greens and fairways, golf here at ‘Sconset represents the greatest ecstasy of playing, for our minds are free, the skies fairer, the breezes charged with more vitality than elsewhere.” — ‘Sconset Notes, Inquirer and Mirror, August 26, 1911.

Early Days

Siasconset’s one-story clubhouse was built after the War of 1812 on 40 acres known as Bloomingdale Farm, which was essential to the island’s food supply. Its guardians were wealthy families from the whaling industry, but as the island started to embrace tourism, the property adapted to the times.

By 1893, golf was beginning to take a foothold on the island, bringing some of the game’s pioneers from the British Isles to design courses in the image of their native lands. Scotland’s Alex Findlay and inaugural club president John Grout designed Sconset’s original 9-hole layout, originally called Bloomingdale Golf Club. With its unique square greens, it was once advertised as “more like the celebrated Scottish courses than any in this country.”

A view from inside the Sconset clubhouse building, which has stood for more than 200 years. (Sconset Golf)

In 1900, the Bloomingdale Farm was sold to Thomas F. Galvin, a Boston Florist and a founder of Sconset Golf Club. Around this time, the Coffin family began staking its foothold in the course’s legacy as merchant Henry Coffin acquired the Plainfield estate. Coffin later provided additional land for Findlay to lay out 18 holes.

Golf was immediately a hit, not just with islanders but with its wide-ranging membership of families throughout the United States. “Women appeared in long white dresses of cotton lawn with high-buttoned necks and long sleeves; men wore knickers and argyle socks, and a picturesque summer routine of golf and afternoon teas evolved. Mixed-gender matches were commonplace,” wrote Paul Judy in his 1997 book The Origins and Early Days of the Sankaty Head Golf Course.

It received national acclaim in 1917 when Brighton native Mike Brady became the first recorded professional to make two holes-in-one during one round. Brady, playing with Louis Tellier in a four-ball match, aced the seventh (187 yards) and 13th (145 yards). “Both balls were perfectly pitched, dead on line. They struck short and rolled straight into the cut, not touching the tin. He broke the course record with a 68,” reported the Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror.

Its popularity reached an impasse in the early 1920s when the nearby Sankaty Head Golf Club opened just two miles to the north. The club’s location is in the immediate backdrop of the famous red-and-white-clad lighthouse. Many of its members flocked to the new club, forcing the club to shutter temporarily and change its strategy in the future.

Henry Coffin Jr. ushered in that new era when he assumed control of the club in the 1930s. He improved the conditions, including transforming the rectangular greens into the oval shapes used by most courses of that time. However, World War II saw a decline in golf participation and resources allocated to the game. Therefore, Coffin closed the course during the major war years, reopening with just nine holes on June 20, 1947.

A group of women pose for a photo on the course. The Sankaty Head Light is visible in the background. (Sconset Golf)

“This little golf course, with its club house and Corn Pond, is all that is left of a once beautiful estate, Bloomingdale…Flowering shrubs, fruit trees, ponds, and lawns made the place the pride of the island.” — Nantucket, The Faraway Island, William O. Stevens, 1936

The Course & Unique Events

Siasconset splits off in three directions from the clubhouse. Because of their proximity to one another, groups have previously been allowed to tee off on either holes 1, 5, or 7, each par 3s. The browned fescue outline forms a barrier between holes, with the rest having a uniform cut aside from the greens.

There are few hazards on the first few holes, with the 1st and 3rd being straightaway 210-yard shots that roll down the slope. The par-3 5th and 7th are short par-3s, but each require a carry over a small creek to reach the green. Quite often, players can run it down the firm fairways, as the wind usually dictates play in this exposed landscape.

The 5th hole at Sconset is the shortest hole on the course at just 140 yards. (Sconset Golf)

Holes 2 and 3 were rerouted when Nantucket Golf Club purchased land on the original course to build in 1997. Hole 2 is now a long dogleg left and the lone par-5 on the course. There’s a catch bunker on the left edge of the fairway and another on the left of the green.

The 6th hole is a drivable par-4 at just 245 yards, taking golfers up to the small parking lot. The remaining bunkers are on holes 8 and 9. The 8th is a 310-yard par-4 but has a pair of thin fairway bunkers nearly stretching the width of the short grass. The 9th is also drivable at 265 yards with a greenside bunker on each side.

For most clubs, the club championship or member guest is circled on the calendar each year. From 1977 to 2011, the biggest buzz around Sconset was the Skinner Open, where the traditional Rules of Golf were not adhered to. Instead, it was common for golfers to receive multiple mulligans and free throws during the “competition.”

In the early days, the witty actors that made up a solid portion of Sconset’s demographic also proposed a tournament format called the “Dunwoddle.” The rule here was before striking the first shot; the golfer must declare which club he will use to hit the next one. “It’s a crazy thing …  since a tee shot topped into the rough, with a declared brassy (wood) for the second shot, is likely to bring about most strenuous work and to require a fairly voluminous vocabulary,” Sconset member W.J. Travis told the Boston Globe in a 1910 article.

The 8th hole features a thin bunker strip that nearly runs the width of the entire fairway. (Sconset Golf)

Modern Times

In 1994, after Henry Coffin Jr.’s death, Robert Coffin became the course’s new superintendent. Robert Coffin had already been working with his father on the course before his death. The then-Coffin estate, comprising 460 acres, was passed down to his four children: Robert (“Skinner”), Henry (“Hank”) III, Stephanie, and Mitchell Coffin.

Around that time, Nantucket Golf Club purchased 250 acres and debuted its new 18-hole private course in 1998. The club also leased Siasconset from the Coffin family for 10 years, with Robert “Skinner” maintaining the course independently during that period. In 2005, Skinner retired, and his brother Hank came out of retirement to take the job after previously working 22 years at Sankaty Head.

For most of its history, Sconset held the unique moniker of being the oldest privately owned public course in the country. That all changed in 2012 when Hank retired and Sconset was acquired by The Nantucket Island Lank Bank, the island’s conservation program, making Sconset a full-fledged public course.

With the course saved for the foreseeable future, Sconset earned well-deserved recognition when it was named the New England Golf Course Owners Association’s “Golf Course of New England” for 2020.

While the recognition for some was long overdue, the true reward is sailing—more likely ferrying—to the island and anticipating what lies ahead: a classic New England layout, with a museum-esque clubhouse and a walk that brings you back in time, if only for a couple of hours.

WOODS HOLE GOLF CLUB CLUB (published 5/24/2024)

Woods Hole Golf Club is throwing a grand bash this Saturday, something more than your typical celebration of Memorial Day Weekend — the commencement of summer for many. Membership and local dignitaries will gather to recognize the long-anticipated unveiling of its renovated golf course, which has been completely shuttered for play since early December.

Working alongside architect Kyle Franz, a restoration specialist whose projects include Southern Pines and Mid Pines, the club has been working away to truly dazzle golfers. There will be renovated bunkers, new teeing areas, widened fairways, and recontoured greens, allowing for more pin positions. All this was done while protecting the bones of the historic course.

With a clubhouse perched atop a slope overlooking Falmouth’s Quissett Harbor and a course featuring terrain that rises and tumbles like the ocean’s current, Woods Hole offers an intimate seaside environment. Within 110 acres of property, there are uneven lies and postage-stamp greens that make you think your way around the course. But whether you’ve played it once or for generations, you can’t help but stare at times and appreciate one of Cape Cod’s oldest and unique courses.

“Even with all the modern courses being built around us, it’s nice to turn up the driveway and see a turn-of-the-century layout that really hasn’t changed over time,” said Glenn Kelly, the club’s veteran head golf professional since 1986, whose pending retirement next spring will punctuate 40 years of service.

Truthfully, it’ll be a party all summer long as the club honors 125 years since its establishment in 1899.

“Saturday is going to be a big day,” said Megan Bearce, president of Mass Golf, who joined Woods Hole with her husband in 2007. “Everybody is very excited. Anything that opens up to play here sells out immediately.”

Woods Hole Golf Club, tucked along the scenic coast of Falmouth on Cape Cod, is a unique and enduring club. (Daniel Peterson)

Early Days

Visiting Woods Hole makes one feel like they’re visiting a corner of the earth. According to Kelly, when trains used to reach the end of the line in the extreme southwest corner of Cape Cod, the conductor would shout, “End of the world, everybody off!”

While the area is now largely known as the main portal to Martha’s Vineyard via ferry, it has long been a popular vacation spot with communities centered on tennis, swimming, and sailing.

And then there’s golf. Amidst the various courses, public, private, short and long that dot Falmouth, Woods Hole Golf Club holds a special place. It is uniquely positioned in a remote pocket along the winding main road leading to the seaside village. The club’s history is intertwined with the area’s development. In 1850, Cambridge native Joseph Story Fay settled in the area and became a generous benefactor to his church and community. He acquired extensive land and then donated many sections of it back to the community. During the rise of golf in the 1890s, Boston area residents were eager to bring the game to their summer retreats. It was then that Fay’s son Henry, in collaboration with Alex Findlay, the designer of the first layout at Hyannisport Club, plotted out a 9-hole course in fall of 1898 over 45 acres of the family’s property.

Joseph Story Fay was Woods Hole’s earliest summer resident. (Bowdoin College)

Summer residents from across the Northeast flocked to the club in droves, taking advantage of the course with nearby access to the coast. Early on, both men and women participated in the game, and according to Bearce and other members, the club has maintained an egalitarian reputation regarding tee times and course access. As The Boston Globe reported in 1899, “Among the women and girls, the popularity of golf as a healthful diversion is evidenced by the large number of the fair sex who can be found on the links any fair day practicing the game.”

The club almost immediately outgrew its capacity within the first 20 years, with surging demand calling for more space and a larger clubhouse. In 1917, the club acquired more land, laying the ground for Scottish architect Thomas Winton to add a second nine. Two years later, Francis Ouimet recorded a 72 in the first-ever 18-hole round in club history. While alterations have been made over time, the Findlay/Winton design has primarily stayed the same.

According to Dr. William Healy, who is writing the book for Woods Hole’s 125th celebration, the renowned architectural team of Wayne Stiles and John Van Kleek may have participated in course renovations during the 1930s. However, club documents show only a one-time payment in 1931, and there’s no evidence that Stiles remodeled or rerouted any of the holes seen today. 

The club also opened its clubhouse in 1921, which, over time, required several additions and was eventually replaced in 2016 with a gorgeous two-story, 24,000-square-foot structure with modern amenities.

Woods Hole Golf Club expanded to 18 holes in 1919. (Dan Peterson)

As with many courses, troubling economic times in the mid-20th century questioned the club’s future. According to Kelly, out-of-state members weren’t stepping up to cover deficits. To keep the club alive, local businessmen and their families began to fill their places.

“It wouldn’t be surprising to see Attorney General playing with a used car dealer, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist and greeting card salesman,” Kelly said. 

Woods Hole also introduced one of the Cape’s first caddie programs. In 1929, Ray Faxon was brought in from Oyster Harbors to run the caddie camp with his brother George Faxon at Woods Hole. The camp was built with a mess hall and tent, which later became cabins, all located behind the current 15th green. According to Healy, the camp ran until 1952, but Ray Faxon remained tied in closely with the community. Ray hit a ceremonial tee shot during the club’s centennial celebration on January 1, 1999. 

The Course

Woods Hole sets up at about 6,200 yards from the tips for a par 71. But rule No. 1 of this place is don’t underestimate it. The unbalanced lies and blind shots call for accuracy above all else.

“If you pick the right side, you’ll have a view of the pin flag. If you’re playing the right route, it’ll be right in front of you,” said Ryan Walsh, the golf course superintendent since January 2017.

If anybody can speak to the course’s scenic beauty, it’s Walsh. Before Woods Hole, he worked at Hyannisport Club, which shares comparable landscapes and conditions. In 2018, he joined a select group of American superintendents at the Ryder Cup in France. Now he gets to unveil the newest edition of this classic course.

“It’s a special property in so many places with the rolling hills and long vistas,” Walsh said of Woods Hole. “The sunrises are great. You look over and see a different view every day. There are some monstrous hills between 5, 7, 8. And you get to the harbor side, and it’s magical.”

While you can see water from several places, holes 1, 9-10, and 16-18 are located on the clubhouse side closest to the harbor. Save for street crossings, walking distances from green to tee are minimal throughout.

The waterfront views blend well with the rolling terrain at Woods Hole. (Daniel Peterson)

The opening stretch works its way from the clubhouse to the back corner of the course, which Kelly describes as the most peaceful section. The par-4 4th features a stone along its border with an uphill elevated green, which, along with 12, has been reshaped to allow a back pin placement.

Walsh’s team also rebuilt the green on 11, the club’s longest hole and one of just two par-5s (also 8). “It didn’t flow, so we recaptured it,” Walsh said. “The lowest elevation is the back of the green, but it’s on a gentle slope. I’m excited to start cutting some pins. It came out awesome but was definitely the biggest challenge.”

Kelly and others describe the 13th as one of the best par-3s on the Cape. Playing to a green squared-off at the back that could easily be mistaken for a Seth Raynor design, this hole is deeply bunkered with a well-struck iron needed to land on the green.

After crossing the road for the final time, the par-4 16th plays through a series of valleys tumbling down toward the green. Walsh and his team adjusted some of the fairway grading, replaced an acre of turf, and shifted around some landing areas to allow for more visibility of the flagstick. 

Ryan Walsh and his team have been hard at work to prepare the course for its grand reopening Memorial Day Weekend. (Daniel Peterson)

The 16th is followed up by a seaside par-3 playing about 130 yards downhill with a beach backdrop and lots of sand around the green. And with the player’s back to the harbor, the 18th hole plays straight uphill back to the clubhouse, similar to the closer at Hyannisport.

“To me, the blind shots on this course are reminiscent of those in Ireland and Scotland,” Kelly said. “People think Cape is just flat and sandy, but not here. It’s always windy, and that’s a great equalizer. Your ball could land on the fairway at a 45-degree angle and could be above or below your feet at any time.” 

A view of the 17th green and 18th tee. (Daniel Peterson)

Mass Golf championships (winners):

1986 – Senior Amateur Championship (Dick Crosby)

1999 – Junior Amateur Championship (Brent Wanner; Ben Spitz [Junior-Junior])

2012 – Women’s Stroke Play Championship for the Baker Trophy (Pam Kuong)

2017 – Women’s Stroke Play Championship for the Baker Trophy (Shannon Johnson)

2019 – Super Senior Amateur (Don Foberg)

Upcoming: Endicott Cup & Tri-State Matches (October 2024)






Last But Not Least…The People

It’s become a platitude in this series, but the members are the key to the club’s enduring survival for 125 years. 

While the club is primarily bustling between Memorial Day and Labor Day, it maintains a proud pack of local members who are incredibly generous to causes such as the Ouimet Fund and, more locally, the Falmouth Service Center. Kelly himself has participated in 18 Golf Fights Cancer Marathons, raising close to $250,000. 

“It’s the kindest, most generous membership on earth,” the Woods Hole pro said. “When somebody is in need, they go to bat. [Former professional] Dutch Wessner told me as he was handing me the keys, you treat them right, they’ll treat you right.” 

While the club will have plenty to celebrate this year, there’s no doubt Kelly will receive his flowers throughout the year as well. After all, his succession line when it comes to head pros is among the most exclusive in the state. Milton Fish first held the role of “golf supervisor” from the club’s inception until after World War II. He then handed the reigns to Wessner, a native Pennsylvania who got his start caddying for 90 cents a tote. Wessner was wounded in Iwo Jima but returned to take the job at Woods Hole, doing everything from mowing the fairways to tending to the pro shop. He then handed things off to Kelly, who has overseen a complete transformation of the club’s facilities. 

Kelly was named the 2024 NEPGA Golf Professional of the Year and, the year before, earned the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund Professional of the Year Award.

“Glenn has been a rock, and I appreciate that,” Bearce said. “No matter what it was, he knows what’s going on. Glenn has always been a friend and appreciative of the significance of the state events. He views anything he can do or participate in positively and is not worried about giving up the course. He has a reverence and respect for Mass Golf and what it means for amateur golf.” 

What else can be said other than let the celebration begin.

Woods Hole Golf Club will finally open its 2024 golf season for play this Saturday morning. (Daniel Peterson)

FRANKLIN COUNTRY CLUB (published 4/19/2024)

“When you are good to others, you are best to yourself.” This snippet of wisdom comes courtesy of Benjamin Franklin, one of the most admired Founding Fathers whose reverence was felt across Colonial America. Such was the case that when a region in southeastern Massachusetts seceded from Wrentham in 1775, its citizens became the first to name their new municipality after Franklin.

While the Pennsylvania statesman died long before golf established a foothold in the United States, today, his likeness is seen throughout the town. That includes Franklin Country Club, whose feathered quill logo remains a tribute to the beloved Founding Father.

His simple but wise words may very well describe the ingredient of Franklin Country Club’s perseverance. Through eras of prosperity and poverty, members have always been determined to keep the club afloat and optimize it to fit the current needs of its gregarious membership. With a sporty, rolling course that throws myriad challenges at every corner, to stellar amenities, and a group of members eager to make Franklin a place that feels like home — and often developing lifelong friendships in the process — the club has fostered a legacy of doing right by its members for the past 125 years.

“To be a member of something that has 125 years of sustainability through generational changes is awe-inspiring,” said Robert DeFlaminis, Franklin Country Club’s president. “Now we’re the guardians of the club. We are truly golf-centric. We have a phenomenal championship-level golf course, a top-shelf practice facility, and a great house operation.” 

A view of the scenic 13th hole, which wraps around one of Franklin’s small ponds. (David Colt, file)

Early Days

While its far from an exclusive label, one could describe Franklin as a quintessential New England golf course. Coming together on leased farmland with rolling hills, stone walls, and twin brooks that run through the most holes, a group of influential townspeople brought golf to Franklin just before the turn of the 20th century.

What is unique is that eight women were among the club’s founders, many of whom organized tournaments, especially with surrounding area clubs. The club launched with approximately 50 members, and the first iteration of a 9-hole course debuted in 1899, with reports of golfers playing as late as December 26 due to the mild winter.

The following year, the course made significant headlines when England’s Harry Vardon, then considered the world’s best player, visited Franklin during his Spalding-sponsored promotional tour for the Vardon Flyer golf ball. Reports indicated that members were floored by Vardon’s ability to strike the ball high in the air as he proceeded to grace the new course.

Franklin rode the wave of the Roaring Twenties as it acquired the land it leased for the original golf course. In January 1922, the club celebrated by hosting an opening night inside its posh clubhouse, so ornate that one observer described it as “It seems more like a dream, from which I shall later awake and find it all vanished.” It also spawned The Club Smoker, with the inaugural event featuring wrestling and boxing matches with local fighters. In its place today is its Champions Night with club presidents and club champions adorning green jackets.

Wayne Stiles and John Van Kleek, whose Massachusetts portfolio includes standouts such as Taconic, Thorny Lea, and Marshfield, provided a 1926 renovation of the 9-hole course, which largely remained through the 1970s prior to its expansion to 18 holes. (William Mitchell was hired to replace present holes 6 & 17 in the 1940s). Holes 1-5 & 18 remain from the original course, according to longtime superintendent Michael Luccini, former president of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of New England, who took the reins from his father Gary in the 1990s. (Gary Luccini also instituted the club’s Hall of Fame).

A view of the gateway to the course between the current 5th and 18th holes. (Contributed)

This era also earned Franklin statewide notice as it hosted its first Massachusetts Golf Association State Open invitational in 1926, featuring state champions such as Fred Wright, Jesse Guilford, Jimmy Conroy, and junior champion Tommy Welch, and in years later, Francis Ouimet and Eddie Lowery. None of them broke the course record of 71 held by early club champion Boyd Chapman until golf pro Willie Ogg, who arranged the inaugural Ryder Cup matches at Worcester Country Club, set a new mark.

While Franklin stayed afloat during the Great Depression, its most trying times came in the mid-20th century during and after World War II, which brought forth several examples of sacrifice. In 1942, membership was declining, and the club owed several debts. However, Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Oden took over the pro shop and club operations, foregoing a salary and only receiving part of a house adjoining a club and a portion of concession sales.

Franklin managed to stave off other recessions, including in 1974, the same year the 18-hole course from Philip Wogan debuted. Two Hall of Famers, Dick Hewitt and Peter Baglioni, the latter of whom was feted in March as the club’s 2023 Player of the Year, have served in club leadership for decades and provided innumerous benefits to save the club. Facing foreclosure in the 1970s, Hewitt facilitated a land deal for the former rest stop along Route 140 that runs adjacent to the club. The sale of this land to developers was sufficient to pay some of the club’s outstanding debts and keep it out of bankruptcy. Other land deals, such as with neighboring Camp Haiastan, allowed the club to complete its 10-hole expansion.


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In addition to being a solid golfer, Donna Walsh, who has been a member since 1975, also stepped up to do the club’s accounting when it couldn’t hire an outside professional. Her family also stepped up, providing a homemade grill to feed the membership.

Baglioni, who became the club’s treasurer in his mid-20s, also helped steady the ship through difficult economic times. But he also used his expertise to introduce a computer system within Franklin Country Club and constructed a dam to contain water in the pond.


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The Course

Separate and distinguishable are two words that come to mind when describing Franklin’s layout.

Playing through natural terrain, deep gullies, constantly lurking streams, and unrelenting, challenging greens, Franklin gives you 18 holes of everything you can handle. There are just three par 5s and four par 3s, but no matter the length, each hole could spoil a scorecard. To start, the opening hole alone is a par 4 playing between 390 and 421 yards, with a brook lining the entire right side and out of bounds on the left, leading toward a sloped, elevated green and a deep greenside bunker.

While recent tree work has cleared out 80% of “clutter” to improve sightlines, Franklin very much keeps you focused on the task ahead rather than drawing your attention to the totality of the property.

“Once you play the first hole, you’re in the environment,” DeFlaminis said. “You’re off on a golf experience. It’s uninterrupted. You’re immersed in what’s around you.”

If you survey club members to see which holes stand out the most, you’ll get answers across the board. The par-3 4th plays completely over a pond near the back of the clubhouse. Holes 7 and 12 play over a deep grassed-in ravine, forcing you to hit a solid tee shot. The left side of the 8th green falls away, making locations of the hole true sucker pin placements. Some hope to pick up a stroke on the 11th, a shorter par-4 with a speedy green flanked by bunkers, while others admire the picturesque 13th, which plays from an elevated tee to a fairway sloping hard to the right toward a pond. And the 17th offers a panoramic view playing completely downhill to a large green pinched in by bunkers left and right.

Franklin’s opening hole throws golfers a challenge right out of the gate. (David Colt, file)

However, many will point to the par-3 14th as the signature hole at Franklin Country Club. This lengthy par-3 plays across the 50-acre Uncas Pond. And if that wasn’t hard enough, a hump-shaped green makes it difficult to land a low-lofting club. Hit toward the spacey bail-out area is to the left if you don’t want to take on the water.

Luccini, whose childhood backyard was the club growing up in a house along the 5th tee, began collecting 5-gallon buckets of golf balls from the range and swinging away. He has overseen a master plan from Mark Mungeam to improve turf health and restore green shaping and contours. Not only does he take pride in caring for the same course his father did for decades, but he also ensures the players who play early in the week get the same prime conditions as weekend players.

“I can say this was [my dad’s] golf course,” Luccini said. “He was here when they expanded and built all the new golf holes. He was kind of here from ground zero. He kind of fathered the course and raised the course. To take that on as a responsibility after he passed is a big deal to me because you want to preserve his legacy and everything he worked for too. You have a level of ownership that is beyond just coming off the street of someone who has not ever been a part of the club. Your whole life is right here.”

From 2017, longtime superintendent Mike Luccini and his sidekick Jack. (David Colt, file)

Franklin’s club has hosted several championships and USGA Qualifying in recent decades, including the Mass Four-Ball (1999 & 2008), Mass Mid-Amateur (2017), and the Mass Women’s Four-Ball Championship (2022). On May 21, eyes will be on U.S. Senior Open Qualifying at Franklin as spots for the Championship Proper at Newport Country Club (RI) will be on the line.

“Whenever there is a premier event like this, members love to come out and watch,” DeFlaminis said. “They like to see how these top players play our track. You see a lot of different club selections that many of us would never use.”

One of the most significant alterations of the past quarter century has been removing the old driving range, which is now replaced with a state-of-the-art practice facility located down the hill by the 4th hole. Despite its massive nets, Franklin faced issues for years with errant golf balls finding their way onto 140 or neighboring yards. In 2016, Franklin opened its state-of-the-art practice facility with a two-level practice tee, bunkered target greens, and an in-depth short game area consisting of greenside bunkers, a chipping/pitching area, and a putting green.

“I would say it’s one of the best in New England,” said Anthony Maki, Franklin’s head golf professional who joined the club as a member back in 1988.

The Competitors

You don’t have to look far to find the names of those who shaped Franklin Country Club. At the front of its grounds is a rectangular stone etched with the names of the club’s Hall of Fame inductees.

The first name listed is Al “The Great” Ficco, known locally as the owner of the candlepin bowling alley, which shuttered after 79 years in 2015. However, he was most comfortable in his role as one of the state’s most colorful golf personalities. He won Franklin’s club championship nearly two dozen times, led the charge for course expansion, and provided monetary support when the club needed it.

In 1957, Ficco, then 49, entered his first Massachusetts Amateur Championship at Longmeadow Country Club and surprised many by making it to the quarterfinals. However, his antics were still on display, as described by the Boston Globe, “On the 11th green, knowing he was out of the hole, he purposely hit his opponent’s ball with his ball and knocked it into the cup for a birdie.” His eyesight began to fade in his 50s, but his lifetime achievement came in 1975 when he made his first-ever hole-in-one at age 67 after being declared legally blind.

Al “The Great” Ficco was one of the most colorful personalities in the Franklin community. (Contributed)

Anne Ravinski, also an inductee, was a leader, instructor, and inspiration to many aspiring women golfers at Franklin. She won the women’s club championship 17 times, shooting a record-breaking 76 when the 18-hole course opened in 1974. She also promoted women’s golf on behalf of the former Women’s Golf Association of Massachusetts and served on its executive board. Following her death in 1990, after a long battle with cancer, a Memorial Fund was established in her name “to commemorate Anne’s exceptional example of courage and love.”

Anne Ravinski, third from left, was one of the most influential female golfers in Franklin Country Club’s history. (Contributed)

Within the past year, the club has also mourned the loss of Alex Manocchio, its record-setting, 25-time club champion, who became the first person to win three of the club’s major events: the Club Championship, the Governor’s Cup, and the President’s Cup.

While Franklin’s membership has a lengthy roster of single-digit handicaps, two golfers – Keith Smith and Brian Higgins  –  in particular have made waves on the state level within the past two decades. Smith, the reigning New England Senior Amateur champion and Mass Golf Super Senior Player of the Year, has won the Mass Senior Amateur four times and in 2021 was the George M. Cohen Senior Player of the Year. He also won the 2023 Super Senior Amateur with a clutch putt on the 18th green at LeBaron Hills Country Club to seal the title.

Higgins, meanwhile, joined the club as a teenager, spending summer days on end working on his game and making friends with Maki brothers, Anthony and Peter. Anthony Maki, now the pro at Franklin, joined his brother and Higgins to lead the Panthers to a Division 2 state title in 1991. Higgins played for the University of New Hampshire and had a brief pro stint before regaining his amateur status. He won consecutive Mass Mid-Amateur titles (2008 & 2009) and was Mass Golf’s 2008 Richard D. Haskell Player of the Year.

Higgins echoed the challenge of the course and the strong bond among members that has lasted throughout his 49 years.

“I’ve never left, and that’s because of the members,” said Higgins, 49. “This is one of those courses where no matter when you want to play, you could show up and get a game. When I was younger, the older members took the juniors under their wing. It’s not someplace where you’re playing by yourself. All the members are fantastic. They’re always welcoming. We’re also great friends.”

When Smith and Higgins both played in the 2017 Mass Mid-Amateur at Franklin, they were part of a stellar roster of host club players, including: Brad Stewart, Ryan Johnston, Kyle Kelly, Brett Pimental, and Anthony Costa.

Celebrating 125

As Franklin steps into this new era, the clubhouse is currently undergoing renovations, including replacing all windows, doors, and exterior elevations on its north, east, and west sides. The next phase is to install a permanent roof to enclose both decks on the south side of the building.

In terms of celebrating 125 years, Franklin has over two dozen events scheduled for this upcoming season, including its majors:

  • The Memorial Day three-day round robin
  • The Franklin Cup in June
  • The club’s four-day Invitational
  • The Labor Day Invitational

There will also be special events using the old routing and previously abandoned tee boxes. It will all culminate with a gala in late September.

Anne Hewitt, is now compiling an addendum to the club’s centennial history book, which she authored with Brian Short. In addition to capturing the previous 25 years of history, she said she plans to emphasize efforts made by female golfers, in particular, to grow the game of golf in the region.

“It’s just a wonderful place,” Hewitt said. “I played a lot of courses, especially through Spring Teams, Fall Cup, and the Worcester County League, and we always came home and said we love this course. The other courses are nice, but this is our home.” 

Franklin Country Club has a bright future thanks to its many benefactors over the years. (Mike Luccini)

BELLEVUE GOLF CLUB (published 3/29/2024)

The year 1899 was a transformative time for the citizens of Melrose, a valley seven miles north of Boston with sweeping vistas, rich soil, and land conducive to well-kept streets and comfortable homes. Fifty years after its population broke off from the area formerly known as North Malden, Melrose citizens voted to enter the 20th century as Massachusetts’ newest city.

The name Melrose came at the suggestion of William Bogle, a native Scotsman and longtime resident who lived in the area when it was North Malden, citing its resemblance to the Eildon Hills of Melrose, Scotland.

Fittingly, as Melrose was developing into a burgeoning city, the Scottish game was taking hold along its hillside pastures of the East Side. During the 1890s, members of the local tennis club called Bellevue (French for “Beautiful View”) took an interest in golf. In October 1899, a group of 10 members led by George Merrill leased 30 acres of rolling hills on a former estate located on a slope referred to as Rattlesnake Hill as the location for their new neighborhood club. They laid out a 1,845-yard golf course and erected a one-story clubhouse of pasture stone and wood with broad piazzas on three sides to admire the views.

Since its founding, the club has been treasured and preserved by generations of passionate members who have guided it through promising and sluggish economic times. Bellevue’s 65 acres are packed with a colorful history — filled with personalities and prestigious events — and through 125 years, it remains one of the oldest nine-hole golf clubs north of Boston.

“The legacy here is truly special,” said Jeffrey Monteleone, Bellevue’s PGA Director of Golf. “All the great families here, present and past, really make it feel like a great American golf club.”

Bellevue’s clubhouse, pro shop and first tee sits at the apex of the property. (David Colt, file)

The Course

In its formative years, Bellevue was a neighborhood club with several members residing in housing surrounding or near the golf course. Upon purchasing additional land that crosses into neighboring Saugus, the original layout was quickly replaced by a 2,700-yard course. The current course routing, credited to Wayne Stiles and John Van Kleek (also credited with Thorny Lea, Marshfield, and Taconic), has largely stood the test of time. The layout is nestled within a basin with a meandering stream gushing with stormwater, deep rough, some man-made features, and swinging terrain that makes a flat lie a commodity.

Starting from the hilltop by the clubhouse, the opening stretch features four increasingly difficult par-4s, with sloped, lightning-fast greens on each one. The 437-yard par-4 is the club’s signature hole and perhaps one of the best par-4s in Massachusetts. The long dogleg right features two stream crossings, with the second shot playing up to an elevated small, circular green. Tee shots that drift right off the tee will likely lead to a second shot blocked out by a tree.

In the 1920s, the state highway commission built the Lynn Fells Parkway — a main road connecting Melrose to Route 1 that runs parallel to the third and fourth holes along the club’s northern boundary — through Bellevue’s original layout, cutting off part of the old course.

However, the club was in good hands with then-president Clarence “Kid” Cochrane. A standout in multiple sports, Cochrane joined Bellevue in his youth and obtained a prodigious knowledge of the course and its operations. A hockey captain at MIT, he applied his architectural ingenuity by advising the remodeling of Bellevue’s course, which, according to a W.A. Whitcomb column in the Boston Globe, “is conceded to be a vastly better one, for all the forced and hurried construction the changes induced.” After serving another stint as Bellevue’s president from 1948-50, he assumed the presidency of the Massachusetts Golf Association. During his term, he donated the Clarence G. Cochrane Trophy, now awarded to the Massachusetts Open champion.

Another significant course adaptation came on the par-3 5th, featuring a large, deep green tucked between the hillside on its left and a man-made pond on the starboard side. The hole previously featured five bunkers guarding the front with a cart path running next to the green. By introducing a pond and rerouting the path to the left hillside, the 5th is another stellar golf hole that can play between 130-180 yards.

Brian Skinner, a Melrose native who has been Bellevue’s golf course superintendent since 1997, said pine tree removal around the green has significantly improved turf health. Near the beginning of his tenure as golf course superintendent, the crew added a platform tee box for the 6th (lone par-5) made of granite boulders. Playing into a valley, getting on in two is possible, but awaiting is a two-tier green that can wreak havoc depending on pin placement.

“We haven’t done any major alteration since that time,” said Skinner, whose experience includes a stint at TPC Sawgrass. “We’ve just resurfaced and refurbished some tees, so it’s been consistent in that way. The course used to be cut up into different landscapes, but with the tree work we’ve done, you can look around and see across the landscape.”

A picture from the front of the 5th green taken during the 1930s. (Contributed)
A present-day view from behind the 5th green. (David Colt, file)

After playing the final par-3 on the 8th, playing toward the pool and tennis courts, players work back to play the closer. The 355-yard 9th is an uphill dogleg right with a sneaky fairway bunker named “Big Mouth” that will swallow up low lofted or off-line drives and make the chance of closing with a par or better unlikely. Another small, circular green awaits in view of those standing atop the hill or on the top deck of the clubhouse. There used to be a separate green used for the 18th hole, but it was eventually abandoned.

“I never get bored of playing it,” Skinner said of the course. “You see a different shot every time you come out here and play.”

Early Days

In 1903, Bellevue was among the founding 37 member clubs of the Massachusetts Golf Association and was soon hosting open championships, attracting pro athletes and enthusiastic golfers such as Red Sox star Babe Ruth. According to the club’s centennial book, Ruth once hit a drive on the old 9th hole so far that it struck the clubhouse roof. (He later stranded his new car upon a large rock formerly embedded in the middle of a parking space.)

Speaking of long drives, Jesse Guilford joined Bellevue in 1915 and became the club’s first member to earn national golf prestige. Guilford was originally from New Hampshire and nicknamed “Siege Gun” for his marvelous ability to strike the ball longer than his competitors. He soon moved on to Woodland Golf Club with the likes of Francis Ouimet and, in 1921, won the U.S. Amateur Championship, helping cement his status in the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame.

While many clubs closed during the Great Depression, Bellevue staved off trouble by waiving its initiation fee and leaning on its leaders to manage troubling financial times. From the 1940s to the 1960s, many of the club stewards were husband-and-wife operations, with some living in third-floor apartments in the clubhouse. The Shea family is among the generational leaders whose impact carries through large stretches of Bellevue’s history. Dick Shea, who lived near the 6th hole, was club president from 1978 to 1980 and, for 25 years, organized the Melrose-Wakefield Hospital golf day fundraiser. His son Michael raised his family along the 4th hole, with many of his children, including Matthew sharing moments together on the course over the years.

Taken in 1989, Dick Shea, right, hits a putt while his grandson Matthew watches on. (Contributed)

Bellevue also began a tradition of interclub competition as one of the original six clubs of the Northern Twi League, the country’s oldest active Twilight golf league. Now with 18 clubs, the league runs 12 weeks from May to August, as teams of golfers from the Greater Boston area meet for afternoon matches with social gatherings to follow.

The club’s earliest golf professionals, in particular, helped introduce and produce generations of proud golfers. Its first was the handsomely named Lancelot Crissy Servos, a Buffalo-born golf pioneer who offered 30-minute lessons for $1. He taught and wrote about the game, publishing the popular “Practical Instruction in Golf” in 1905. Golfdom Magazine wrote in 1938, “When a man has given more than 75,000 golf lessons in the past 40 years, he is likely to give a pretty definite idea of how to teach the game. This is very definitely true of L.C. Servos, who laid out Miami’s first golf course in 1898 and who has been active in the teaching and promotion of the game ever since.”

Before his successful tenure at Hatherly Country Club, also celebrating its quasquicentennial this year, Jack Igoe was Bellevue’s pro from 1949-1952. In addition to his junior golf lessons, many of which he filmed, he made it to a playoff in the 1950 Mass Open, losing out to John Thoren.

Leo “Babe” Doucette, whose likeness is affixed to a plaque outside Bellevue’s clubhouse, also shared a particular affinity for youth golf. He carried a tradition of Mondays being reserved for teenage play but offered his time for instruction during any free time in the week. Every fall, he hosted a banquet for the youth, many of whom were caddies, and encouraged them to connect and play with members. Doucette sadly passed away in Florida before the start of the 1964 season.“Most important, we have a group of happy boys, who like to caddie, who enjoy golf, and who like the idea of being a part of our club,” Doucette wrote in a golf column for The Boston Globe in April 1958.

A plaque dedicated to former golf professional Babe Doucette is attached to Bellevue’s clubhouse. (Mass Golf)

Notable Events & Champions

In the spirit of empowering youth golfers, it’s no surprise that most of its statewide recognition came in the form of junior amateur winners and events hosted.

As early as 1904, G. Harold “Had” Lyall won the state’s first interscholastic championship at The Country Club. In 1946, Bob Woodward, a 19-year-old from Bellevue, who served two years in the Navy as a V-5 candidate, won the first postwar Mass Junior Amateur at Furnace Brook Golf Club. Fellow member Edward Franziem won the 1940 Mass Junior Amateur sandwiched in between runner-up finishes in the event. He once held the course record of 64 alongside Ken Kotowski, a disciple of Babe Doucette, who won the 1962 Junior-Junior division of the Mass Junior Amateur and two years later captured the New England Junior Amateur title.

Bellevue has been a longtime financial supporter of the Ouimet Fund, which helped caddies like Kotowski. He attended Dartmouth College and, in 1970, finished 11th in the NCAA Championships. Later that summer, Kotowski became the first Ouimet Alumnus to capture the Ouimet Memorial Tournament title, winning the third playing of the event in 1970.

Ken Kotowski, second from right, holds the New England Junior Amateur trophy after winning the title at Ponkapoag Golf Course in Canton. (Boston Globe)

Five years later, Bellevue hosted the first of four Mass Girls’ Junior Amateur championships, with Leslie Greis taking home the title. A senior at Wachusett High School, Greis was the only girl on the boys team, but against the state’s best female juniors, she shot 79-80—159, closing out a three-stroke victory on a sunny day.

“It was good fun,” recalls Greis, who proceeded to earn a spot in the Harvard Athletic Hall of Fame and, after graduating, briefly joined Bellevue while working for Bank of Boston. “Today kids might be more focused already on pro golf, but back then it was all about the amateur spirit and fun.

“Nine-hole courses don’t get enough due,” she added. “And Bellevue is one of them.”

In 1981, an ambitious teaching professional Jim Tobin was hired as Bellevue’s newest head pro. He grew up on the North Shore and worked at Bill Flynn’s Far Corner Golf. Seeking to run his own operation, he moved to Bellevue, thinking it would be a stepping stone. Instead, he stayed for 31 years, helping breathe new life into the family and junior programs at the club. He was newly married to his wife Anne Marie Tobin, who became one of the state’s most accomplished female golfers of the 20th century. Tobin won a record seven Mass Women’s Amateur titles and served in WGAM leadership. When she wasn’t competing or working in her father-in-law’s law firm, she worked in tandem with her husband to help young boys and girls improve their game.

“She was good with the people, and she knew what she was doing,” Jim Tobin said of his wife. “It [Bellevue] was always a great place for me and my family.”

Jim Tobin, left, and Anne Marie Tobin, center, helped grow the game at Bellevue Golf Club. They also joined Jerome Kaestner, right, to represent the club in the Tucker Anthony Classic, which was broadcast on NESN. (The Daily Item)

While building a Hall of Fame resume, Anne Marie recognized something missing from the regional golf scene: a championship where female pros and amateurs could play side-by-side in an open format. Bellevue’s brass emphatically supported bringing a new event to Bellevue and gained the sponsorship needed to make it happen. With assistance from Salem Country Club’s assistant pro Mary Wilkinson, who grew up near Bellevue’s first tee, the Tobins sent out letters to all female pros throughout New England and New York, attracting 37 total players (pros and amateurs) for the first-ever Massachusetts Women’s Open in August 1990.

LPGA legend Jane Blalock donated the trophy plus $1,000 of the $6,500 purse to help get the event off the ground. Blalock, who retired a 27-time LPGA Tour winner in 1987, was invited to play but declined stating humorously, “If I win, I’m a hog. If I lose, I’ll be a bum,” Jim Tobin shared.

Beth O’Kelly, a new pro fresh out of the University of Hartford, shook off persistent nerves and, by sinking an 8-foot putt on the closing hole, cemented her name as the first-ever winner of the Mass Women’s Open. She banked the $1,500 first prize en route to Florida’s mini-tour circuit.

“It’s always nice to get your first win in the inaugural event; then you know you’ll be in the history books, especially being from Massachusetts,” said O’Kelly, now a golf instructor on the South Shore. “Bellevue is a great spot and a great nine-hole test of golf. The people there were great.”

“Nobody ever tears this course up,” Anne Marie Tobin said prior to the 1991 tournament. “In the 11 years I’ve played here, I’ve only broken 70 maybe once. It is a difficult track for women [5,900 yards], very long. It will be commensurate with an LPGA tournament course.”

Bellevue hosted the first three editions of what was then a steadily growing event. The stage also featured another Bellevue standout, Michelle Bell, who held the course record of 68 at the time. Bell spent several years on tour, earning the Futures Tour Player of the Year in 1998. Local amateur Marion Maney-McInerney, who was a walk-on at the University of Miami in the 80s, won the 1992 Mass Women’s Open as an amateur with a runaway five-stroke victory. The tournament moved to Wellesley Country Club and other 18-hole clubs in subsequent years. In the event’s 2011 return to Bellevue, current LPGA standout Megan Khang, just 13 at the time, forced a playoff but finished runner-up to Connecticut amateur Ellie Dutch.

“I think this tournament is great,” Blalock said after the 1990 tournament. “The trend in tournaments is generally toward the amateurs. But I think things are changing. There’s more and more women club pros now. Women’s golf is growing.”

Mary Gale hits from a bunker during the first playing of the Mass Women’s Open in 1990. (Boston Globe)

Modern Times

If there was a song that could describe Bellevue in the 21st century, Good Times Roll by The Cars might suit it well.

Bellevue’s membership stands at 430 strong at a course that sees nearly 12,000 rounds annually. The pool, now a fixture for 50 years at Bellevue, remains popular, and so are the tennis courts, which are getting a fresh coat of green and blue for the new season. Events ranging from the club’s member-guest to clubhouse events for youth and families sell out quickly.

“Everybody comes to have a good time, and people are proud to bring their family friends here to play our course, come out on the deck and enjoy a glass of wine, and watch the sunset. It’s a special place,” Monteleone said.

Participants in the 2018 Mass Golf Member Day at Bellevue look out toward the 9th green. (David Colt, file)

One of the largest gatherings each year is the July fireworks, taking place one week after Independence Day, which sees over 1,000 people roaming the grounds awaiting a show over the balmy night sky.

To commemorate its 125 years, the club will also install a Signature Verdin™ clock next to the first tee.

While only time will tell who or what Bellevue’s next big sensation will be, if history is any indication, the current generation and those in their wake will continue to write new chapters in a place that is as majestic as it was when it was founded.

A rendering of the new clock that will be installed later this year to celebrate 125 years of golf at Bellevue Golf Club. (Contributed)

HATHERLY COUNTRY CLUB (published 2/16/2024)

The gravel cliffs of coastal Scituate have long appealed to those who have explored and sought to inhabit the land. Instrumental in the town’s establishment in the Colonial era was Mr. Timothy Hatherly, who arrived in Plymouth in February 1632 with a specific task in mind: “to set up a fishing in Scituate,” according to notes of John Winthrop, one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Hatherly has been referred to as “The Father of Scituate”, and it’s his namesake that graces the historic northern section of the town with its lush beaches and posh homes dotting the coastline. Tucked within this seaside village is Hatherly Country Club, founded in 1899 as the home of the Hatherly Play Ground Association, which was established to promote the athletic pursuits of its residents, largely families who adopted the area as their summer retreat. To this day, Hatherly’s membership is stocked with families, thanks in part to tradition but also the club’s emphasis on developing young golfers. (More on that later).

Founded on 11 acres of purchased land, the club was cleared of its shrubbery to provide unobstructed views of the windswept waterfront. These oceanside views remain visible among much of the course, but especially so on the clubhouse side. While the original 18-hole course was replaced in the mid-20th century, the layout has always consisted of some of the state’s toughest, yet most scenic holes.

“It’s an amazing celebration for Hatherly to be in existence going back to around the birth of golf in Massachusetts,” said Francis L. Colpoys, Jr., current president of Hatherly Country Club. “It is a great membership of true friends and family, and it’s reflected in the longevity of employees who love working with membership and club.”

The holes along the clubhouse side of Hatherly Country Club are routed through natural areas along Scituate’s coastline. (Mass Golf)

Early Days

The first layout at Hatherly featured a 6-hole golf course, tennis courts, and a baseball field, as well as a cozy 90×35 foot wooden clubhouse, referred to as the casino (the Italian word for small villa, summerhouse, or social club). Located on the present 1st green and 2nd tee, the casino had two granite pillars at its entrance where cars would drive right up directly toward the staircase leading to the upper story of the building.

The club was very much a playground in its early days, spawning the tradition of the “Hatherly Field Day” that attracted hundreds of people. The activities featured everything from a 100-meter dash and obstacle course to races involving wheelbarrows and potato sacks. In the afternoon, there was a baseball game and golf events, including a long-drive contest (203 yards was the winning score in 1903).

In 1913, the club was admitted to the Massachusetts Golf Association and by 1921 had debuted its first 18-hole course. According to a June 1921 article in the Boston Post, Arthur Lockwood, who won the inaugural Mass Amateur Championship in 1903, reportedly drew up the plans and teamed with W.H. Emerson to complete the work.

Here’s how the original 18-hole course was set up in the 1920s. (Mass Golf)

The Hatherly Play Ground Association also reorganized, and the club’s name officially became recognized as Hatherly Country Club. Francis Ouimet, famous for his 1913 U.S. Open victory, played Hatherly a number of times, including with Fred Mahony, a Mass Amateur quarterfinalist in 1940 who went on to become club president.

“He was a delightful fellow to play with,” Fred Manne told Peter Mehegan, a former WCVB Chronicle anchor and Hatherly member, in his video Hatherly At 100, produced for the club’s centennial celebration. “It was always a fun game with him. He was serious enough about his golf game, but he made it such a social event that you relax with him.” His score? “He played under 75.”

In addition to its facilities, Hatherly became known for its social scene as dances and galas were held with live music during peak season at the club. However, one night in July 1947, loose cigarette disposal and a heavily waxed floor caused a 3 a.m. fire that led to the destruction of the original clubhouse/casino. Head golf professional Jack Igoe and his entire family — wife Mary, three daughters, and his parents — lived upstairs in the clubhouse, and fortunately, all escaped unscathed.

The club still hosted its MGA Open Handicap tournament a week later with players using a so-called “circus tent” for a locker room that doubled as a pro shop. Soon after plans were put in place to rebuild the clubhouse.

A view of the original clubhouse/casino at Hatherly Country Club prior to its destruction in 1947. (Contributed)

The club saw a significant transition in the 1960s when many homes were adapted for full-time use as residents began living in the town year-round. It was around then that much of the course was renovated for improved playability. Sam Mitchell, whose portfolio also includes Brookmeadow Country Club and Easton Country Club, was the architect behind the new design that added nearly 500 yards and repositioned many of the holes to make it a par-70.

In addition to the removal of consecutive par 3s on holes 3 and 4, the course now featured a new par-3 8th and a dogleg left 9th, that looped around the pond, the lone water hazard located inside the 18-hole course. It also shifted the final challenging par-3 to the 15th, which plays from an elevated tee that overlooks the remaining holes. The closing hole, which used to be a par-5 with a green in the present-day first fairway, is now a par-3 playing uphill back toward the clubhouse.

“The views are incredible, and there are plenty of challenges,” said Mehegan, who described the course as “sneaky tough”. “It’s a lovely place, and it’s been well-kept over the years.”

Growing The Game

Following the Great Depression, many of Scituate’s wealthiest residents lost fortunes and the homes that went with it. But soon the town established a large Irish presence spearheaded by former Boston Mayor James Michael Curley, who moved to Scituate and led an influx of Celtic brethren to Hatherly.

Among them was Igoe, a transformative figure in developing Hatherly’s celebrated youth program. Igoe devoted himself to teaching junior golfers how to swing the golf club and was ahead of his time by filming the swings of his students. On an average day, Igoe taught in front of the old clubhouse from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. After lunch, they would play a practice round and in the evening were shown films of golf greats at the time.

Hatherly has hosted the Mass Girls’ Junior Amateur eight times, double that of any other club, and often Hatherly’s golfers would occupy close to half the field. Among those star pupils was Theodora “Pippy” Rooney, one of the best players to come out of the South Shore. The 1947 Mass Girls’ Junior Amateur and 1955 Mass Women’s Amateur winner told Mehegan that she would go to church in the morning and then play a round with fellow young women. After going to the beach, she returned to the practice range with Igoe before going out to play with the men in the afternoon. During her teenage years, she was able to shoot 3-over 37.

“She was a delightful and charming person, who went on to play at Charles River Country Club,” Mehegan said of O’Connor, also a seven-time women’s club champion, who qualified for three U.S. Women’s Opens and was a quarterfinalist in the 1953 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. “She said she always remembers her childhood when she learned to play the game. Like all of Igoe’s students, she was taught the strong grip.”

Pippy Rooney, center, receives the Mass Women’s Amateur trophy after winning the 1955 final against Florence McClusky, left. (Leslie Jones Collection)

Young golfers continue to thrive at Hatherly today. In fact, the club is one of the few that exclusively reserves Monday mornings for its summer junior golf program. Chip Johnson, the head golf professional at Hatherly since 1997, leads those efforts along with his assistant pros Greg Hay and Tim KerriganJohnson, who finished 40th overall in the 1988 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, also works alongside his wife, former LPGA pro Pamela Kerrigan Johnson, who is particularly helpful in growing the youth and women’s side of the game.

“It results in great young men and women who become golfers,” Colpoys said.

In recent years, Mary Mulcahy has been among the club’s most accomplished members. A fourth-generation member, Mulcahy won the ladies’ club championship before she was a high schooler. While at Scituate High, she won the 2010 MIAA Girls’ Individual title as a sophomore, helping her earn a scholarship to the University of Central Florida. Since returning to Massachusetts, she’s been a regular competitor in the Mass Women’s Amateur Championship and has won the Mass Father Daughter Tournament with her father John Jr., six times. John has caddied for Mary going back to her junior golf days.

Mary Mulcahy and her father John Mulcahy, Jr., pictured in 2014, have won multiple Father Daughter titles together. (David Colt, file)

Notable Names & Events

Over 125 years, Hatherly has played host to a mix of pro athletes, celebrities, and political figures, in addition to its notable membership, many of whom are memorialized through club championships and events.

For years, Boston Bruins players Milt Schmidt and Derek Sanderson frequented Hatherly, including in 1990 for a charity tournament to support the Scituate High School hockey program. Comedian Bob Hope and his wife Dolores also visited Hatherly on occasion, as did presidential press secretary and U.S. Senator Pierre Salinger.

Among its homegrown members was Ted Cooney, whose family owned a summer house in Scituate. As a junior golfer, he was medalist in the 1951 Mass Junior Amateur and made the final against John Tosca Jr. He went on to captain the Harvard University golf team, winning the 1954 New England Intercollegiate title at Oakley Country Club. A year later he set the course record of 62 on the previous 18-hole course, which will stand forever. Sadly, his life was cut short at age 25 when he was struck by an automobile in Plymouth, N.H., “a great loss to Massachusetts golf”, Boston Globe writer Tom Fitzgerald wrote when reporting on his untimely death in 1959.

Ted Cooney is among the most successful male golfers to come out of Hatherly Country Club. (Contributed)

Jane Faxon Welch, whose nephew is 8-time PGA Tour winner Brad Faxon, won the junior division of the Mass Girls’ Junior Amateur at Hatherly in 1957, and in 1960, won the championship division. She joined Hatherly in the 1960s and led the club to a long-awaited victory in the 1968 Ann Cosgrove Boros Memorial Tournament, named after the wife of Julius Boros, who won the 1963 U.S. Open at The Country Club. Prior to 1968, Hatherly hasn’t won the team title since the inaugural 1952 tournament. Faxon also competed twice in the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur (2000, 2006). In that span, she has seen her daughter Tracy and granddaughters Victoria and Amanda go on to have success as well.

In the tradition of longstanding pros, Woody Kay served the club for two decades. After serving as a naval officer during the Korean War, Kay returned home to join the family business of golf pros. His father was Vice President of the PGA, and all three brothers were golf pros. He joined the Hatherly staff in 1972 and was a friend to many.

Every year, the club awards the Woody Kay Hatherly Cup for its Member-Member Tournament on Memorial Day Weekend. The extremely popular summer Member-Guest is named after former Massachusetts governor Maurice Tobin, who was a Hatherly member. Tobin, whose namesake is on the Route 1 bridge connecting Charlestown and Chelsea, became the youngest state representative at age 25 and went on to have a successful political career. He also died suddenly in 1953, leading to the creation of this tournament. In this 5-day format, only one true champion emerges from the Championship Flight.

In addition to its eight Girls’ Junior Championships, Mass Golf has hosted the Mass Senior Amateur and Mass Women’s Senior Amateur twice, the latter most recently taking place in 2023. Mass Golf Hall of Famer Joanne Goodwin won her fifth straight Mass Women’s Stroke Play (Baker Trophy) title at Hatherly in 1959, and 2023 Mass Women’s Amateur champion Rebecca Skoler won the 2020 Mass Girls’ Junior Amateur at Hatherly.

In May 2022, the club hosted U.S. Senior Open Qualifying on an unusually still day, with Weymouth’s Brian Spitz and Rhode Island’s Ed Kirby (Wakefield, RI) being the only players under-par at 69, each earning a spot in the Championship Proper.

Modern Times

While the rise of golf was interrupted during the Vietnam War, the demand for membership at Hatherly has steadily risen since the 1980s and through several booms in the game.

It’s not just family members who are carrying on the legacy of the club decade after decade, it’s the senior staff as well. In addition to the pro shop’s lengthy collective tenure, superintendent Rich Caughey has 39 years on the job, head chef Jeff Heyl is in year 11, and clubhouse manager Joe Ferrari has been with Hatherly for eight years.

“We’re blessed at Hatherly to have longtime employees who love the club and the membership,” Colpoys said.

Bruce Hepner and Brian Silva have also overseen restoration work at Hatherly, removing trees to open up the course and restoring greens to their original shapes and sizes. Caughey has kept the club ahead of the game as well. He implemented a state-of-the-art desalination plant at the club to offset the effects of saltwater intrusion by purifying the water in the pond between 8 and 9 that gets distributed throughout the course. It’s a similar system The Kittansett Club in Marion has implemented.

As the club enters the new golf season, a 125 celebration committee has been formed to plan events unique to the ceremonial year. A summer tournament using hickory clubs is in the works for June, and the hope is to incorporate some of the old course elements, such as abandoned tees & greens.

And while many individuals certainly deserve recognition for the club to reach this exclusive milestone, it’s been recognized as a team effort since Day 1.

“Here at the club, nobody takes personal recognition,” Colpoys said. “Everybody is into it to help, and I think that’s why we’ve had great volunteer efforts for a long time.”

Hatherly’s annual events have always drawn large crowds. (Contributed)


WENHAM COUNTRY CLUB (published 1/12/2024)

For those looking for a throwback golf experience that’s walkable, enjoyable, and suitable for all levels of golf, Wenham Country Club checks every box. Despite maxing out at 4,546 yards (par 65/67), the course has plenty of twists and turns where accuracy and a strong short game are paramount. In fact, some would advise leaving the driver behind on this course.

This staple in the quaint North Shore town of Wenham was established in 1899 when a group of caddies from the nearby Myopia Hunt Club wanted a place for townspeople to enjoy the game at an affordable rate. It was a popular time for golf in the region as Myopia had just hosted the 1898 U.S. Open and would host three more in 1901, 1905, and 1908.

Omnipresent throughout Wenham Country Club’s history is the Tarr family. Since its founding, the course has been located on Tarr’s pasture, a stretch of firm and springy turf with rolling contours with charming views near the town’s large lake and downtown area. The founders asked the Tarrs to use their land for golf, and generations later, the family owns and operates the golf course with the mantle having been passed to Norm Tarr.

Multiple members, past and president, described Wenham as one large family that has hosted highly popular holiday tournaments and cookouts. Even those who have moved on to other clubs, still maintain close connections with the membership.

“It’s a great deal of pride for me and the family,” Norm Tarr said of Wenham. “We’ve worked over the past 50 years to keep it going for the next generation.”

An MBTA train soars past the 14th green at Wenham Country Club. (Contributed)

The Course

The original nine-hole course was laid out over 2,224 yards, and, in the Scottish tradition, each hole was given a name (in order): Apple Tree, Lakeview, Overlook, Lowland, Railroad, Faraway, Bowlder, Hollow, Pond. In 1924, the club leased additional land to add a second nine and also dropped the townspeople-only provision. It also hired Joseph Robertson, a jack of all trades who served as the club’s first golf professional and greenskeeper, for over 40 years. Robertson and his wife worked together through all those years, with Mary assisting with pro shop and concession duties. Without the Robertsons, Wenham may have met a different fate in the mid-20th century.

“Joe and Mary have done a lot for Wenham,” one member told the Boston Globe in 1967. “We had some very thin times during World War II. The club really was saved from failure through the efforts of the Robertsons and a few members.”

Since expanding, the land has remained largely unmoved. Some greens and tees have been rebuilt in phases and irrigation has been updated, but the bones remain intact. There are 9 par-4s, 8 par-3s, and the lone par-5 on 11, featuring elevated tee and green and a steep valley in between, with the last 100 yards playing uphill. An average 18-hole round is unlikely to surpass three hours. 

Wenham gives you plenty to dive into right away, as the first three holes play in a triangle along Main St. (Route 1A). The opening par-4 plays straight ahead, however, there’s OB on both sides of the fairway. Then there’s a large bunker sitting in the middle of the landing zone in front of the green. The second hole is among the shortest par-3s in Massachusetts, tipping out at 115 yards, with the road along the entire left side, a stone wall along the back of the green, and another larger bunker protecting the front. The par-3 third provides a wider green, but it slopes sharply from back to front.

“The first three holes could make or break a round,” said Diane Carter, who’s held the women’s course record with a score of 69. “The rest is not target golf, but you have to hit into small greens, and it really helps your short game.”

The far edge of the course plays along the MBTA Newburyport/Rockport Line. The 12th and 13th are consecutive par-3s, with the former forcing players to hit between a pair of maple trees and over a stone wall to a two-tiered green. The 14th tee shot, running adjacent to the rail line, is a forced carry over a marsh with a bunker right of the landing zone and a pond situated behind the green awaiting anybody who over clubs their approach.

The final stretch is all par-4s and a testament to Wenham’s historic charm. The 16th green is about as small as you’ll find in the state. At 382 yards, it’s the second-longest hole on the course, featuring a dogleg right protected by four bunkers. Hitting about 10 feet down into the tiny green, players are advised to take a club down, bounce it in front, and have it roll toward the hole.

“It’s much more of a sporty course for people to play,” said Wenham’s Gary Larrabee, a longtime author and historian who wrote the centennial book on Wenham Country Club. “It’s a unique layout that has stood the test of time.”

You won’t find many greens like the 16th at Wenham still remaining. (Joe Brown/Salem News)

Notable People

Though it was never the longest course, Wenham has produced several big-time standouts over the years. Chief among them is Salem native Dick Hart Jr., who won the PGA Tour’s 1965 Azalea Open Invitational over Phil Rodgers in an epic eight-hole sudden-death playoff. Perhaps it was the years of short game work at Wenham that prepared him for this moment. To get to the playoff Hart had to hole a wedge shot on the par-4 15th and make a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th. Off the green on the eighth playoff hole, he got up-and-down to win the playoff and hoist his one and only PGA Tour title.

“It’s a week in my playing career I’ll never forget,” he told Gary Larrabee in his book The Green and Gold Coast: The History of Golf on Boston’s North Shore, 1893-2001.

Golf certainly ran in the Hart family, as Hart’s mother Florence won the 1964 Massachusetts Senior Women’s Amateur, and along with her husband Dick Sr. won several events at Wenham over the years. Dick Jr. settled in Hinsdale, Illinois, where he was a pro for decades.

Dick Hart holds up his check after winning the 1965 Azalea Open Invitational, his lone PGA Tour victory. (AP file photo)

Hart took lessons from Robertson, who also taught several other championship players. Eileen Deschamps, a Danvers High School student, won the 1955 Massachusetts Girls’ Junior Amateur. Flo Hart, Eileen Gibbons, Louise Bick, Pat Hidden, and Elaine Greenhalge led Wenham to First Cup titles in Mass Golf’s Spring Team Matches in 1970, 1971 and 1975.

Barrie Bruce, who won the 1962 New England Intercollegiate and was an All-American on Tufts University’s golf team, won the 1967 Massachusetts Amateur at The Country Club. Just 25 at the time, he turned heads by winning medalist honors in qualifying and going on to win the 36-hole final over Bob Kirouac, 6&5. Later on, he established a golf school as a pro at the Country Club of Billerica. Around that time, Wenham member Tim Holland was in the midst of winning three straight Massachusetts Senior Amateur titles (1966-68).

Todd Biegger carved a different path in golf. Working after school at Wenham in the early 1980s, he spent a decade as superintendent of Pinehurst’s No. 6 and No. 7 courses. After his playing career concluded at the University of Tampa, he studied under Dr. Joseph Troll at the UMass Turfgrass Science & Management program. Troll helped him secure an apprenticeship at North Carolina Country Club, before helping construct the No. 2 course at Indianwood Golf & Country Club (MI), site of the 1989 U.S. Women’s Open. While there he was asked to apply to Pinehurst.

In 1990, Diane Carter was in between jobs and decided to pick up golf by playing with the “early birds” at 6:30 a.m. From there, she developed into an outstanding player, setting the women’s course record with a 69 and leading the club Spring Teams squad to several cup titles, alongside teammates Marcia Veale, Erica Allen, Bonnie Schreck, Chris Winfrey, and Janet Brown.

Among those “early birds” was the late Roy Norden, who was often the first person on the course during the golf season. A veteran of World War II, Norden went on to coach state championship-winning football teams at Wareham, Marlborough, and Beverly.

Diane Carter learned how to play golf at Wenham Country Club and went on to win several WGAM events. (David Colt)

Modern Times

When Wenham reached its centennial, it had fully transitioned into a semi-private course, offering daily fee play. In addition to improvements to its clubhouse, it added two maintenance buildings and rebuilt several greens and bunkers to meet modern conditions.

Just like in its earliest days, young people are now in the spotlight at Wenham. The club’s PGA Junior League program, led by head golf professional and Gordon College coach Ryan McDonald, is ranked among the best in New England. The club also hosts a weekly summer golf clinic culminating with the much-anticipated Ice Cream Open in August, the brainchild of Norm’s daughter Elizabeth.

“It’s in great part to Ryan’s love for youth program,” Tarr said. “He has kids himself and he enjoys it. It’s amazing when you see families playing together here. It makes it all worth it.”

While the club remains shuttered for the winter, plans are in the works for the club’s 125th anniversary, including a tournament using throwback equipment and attire. Superintendent Alex Daly has led the charge on steadily improving conditions year after year, including rebuilding and expanding forward tees, expanding cart paths, and pruning and removing trees to improve playability.

Whether you’re from the North Shore or not, Wenham is a worthwhile place to add to your list of courses to play in 2024.

“Our relatives bought this land 200 years ago, and I think we have a good future planned for it,” Tarr said.

The participants in Wenham Country Club’s PGA Jr. League are carrying the torch for the club into the future. (Contributed)

About Mass Golf

Mass Golf is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to advancing golf in Massachusetts by building an engaged community around the sport.

With a community made up of over 120,000 golf enthusiasts and over 360 member clubs, Mass Golf is one of the largest state golf associations in the country. Members enjoy the benefits of handicapping, engaging golf content, course rating and scoring services along with the opportunity to compete in an array of events for golfers of all ages and abilities.

At the forefront of junior development, Mass Golf is proud to offer programming to youth in the state through First Tee Massachusetts and subsidized rounds of golf by way of Youth on Course.

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