- Golfer Benefits
Editor’s Note: As Needham Golf Club ushers in a new century of operation, we are delighted to share the following synopsis of the past 100 years, which was compiled by the club.
On March 28, 1923, the Town of Needham Water Commissioners issued its certificate, which in part read: “It is generally acknowledged that it would be a benefit to the health and civic life of the town to have a golf club established within its borders and from the absence of private land that can be procured, it appears that the land owned by the town known as the Needham Water Shed is the only available land and should be used for that purpose.”
Thus began the Needham Golf Club and its proud history. The club was incorporated as a non-profit organization. The property was originally the site of the Colburn farm, which had been in the Colburn family since 1838. In 1899, the Town of Needham purchased the property from George Warren Colburn, a decorated Civil War veteran, as a buffer to protect its watershed. The course sits on nearly 60 acres and was originally leased from the town’s water board, and since 1938, from the town’s select board. The lease is typically renewed on a 10 or 20 year basis.
In 1929, William Leach, the club’s first president, described the many events that had occurred during his presidency. He mentioned that the club had enlisted the services of Wayne Stiles, a noted golf course architect and disciple of Donald Ross. But in due time, because of financial restraints, the club ended its agreement with Mr. Stiles and authorized the course to be constructed, as designed by Mr. Stiles, by newly employed course superintendent John Graham.
Due to the generosity of George and Edward Pond, construction of a clubhouse began. Mindful of the cost to the membership, the club welcomed out-of-town members who, according to Leach, “proved to be of considerable assistance.” In 1925, the membership consisted of 135 resident members and 46 non-resident members.
Today, that design remains remarkably the same, with modifications to several holes by Brian Silva in the mid-1980s, and more recently Mark Mungeam as part of the new clubhouse construction project completed in 2012. As part of the club’s long-range plan, a new irrigation system will be installed in the spring of 2024.
During the club’s 100 years, there have been only five course superintendents, a truly remarkable testament to the loyalty and longevity with which our club has been blessed. For the past 60 years the course has been maintained and managed by two extraordinary course superintendents. Ron Kirkman began in 1962 and was succeeded in 2006, by his assistant, Tim Hood. The wisdom and expertise these two gentlemen brought to the club is evident throughout the carefully groomed and pristine conditioned property, which has been recognized by our receipt of an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Certificate, one of only a few awarded in the Commonwealth.
Our golf operation has enjoyed similar longevity and loyalty. Rich Hasenfus has been our Golf Professional since 1994, and will conclude his tenure in 2023; he will retire as only our 10th Golf Professional. Prior to turning professional, Rich had been a Needham member for more than 20 years and an eight-time club champion.
In 2021, the club hired its first General Manager in its 98 year history, Geoff Piva. Geoff, a former Ouimet scholar and member of the Salem State University golf team, brings a depth of knowledge from past experience at Mass Golf clubs Ferncroft Country Club and Andover Country Club.
The club has been home to many excellent golfers, including twelve-time women’s champion Laura McDonald Hasenfus, as well eight-time winner C. Cutler Donavan, seven-time champion Mary Leavitt Rae, six-time champion Jane Egan and five-time champion Myrtle Yuill Williams, who set a Canadian course record by scoring a hole-in-one at age 88. The men’s championship has been dominated of late by thirteen-time winner Jordan Burke, who has also been quite successful at the state and national level. A Mass Amateur semifinalist in 2006 and quarterfinalist in 2010, Jordan is a six-time tri-state matches member and USGA Mid- Amateur qualifier four times.
The club has hosted many regional and statewide events, including the 2017 & 2023 Mass Golf Young Golfers’ Amateur, as well as other state qualifiers. Its women’s team is a longtime member of the Norfolk Twi League and has captured twelve championships, including the inaugural 1932 championship. The men’s team has been a long time participant in the Suburban Twilight Fourball League and has won the championship thirteen times.
The club looks forward to its centennial this year, with a number of events scheduled and a centennial gala scheduled for September 9, 2023.
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 110,000 golf enthusiasts and over 340 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.