The Southbridge, Mass. property boasts a Donald Ross-designed nine-hole course that has been ranked in North America’s top ten, but is taking steps to raise awareness and boost membership by welcoming public play through Groupon discounts. Two years ago, it also developed a new revenue stream by renting seven acres adjacent to its course to a solar-panel company.
Warren Fontaine, President of Cohasse Country Club in Southbridge, Mass., estimates that the club is located roughly a half-mile from the downtown of that central Massachusetts city, the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram reported. But Fontaine and Chris Dono, the club’s Golf Committee Chairman, agree that if they strolled down Southbridge’s Main Street and asked people there where Cohasse was, about half of them wouldn’t know, and many wouldn’t even realize that it even exists, the Telegram reported.
Outside of Southbridge, Cohasse CC is known even less, even though it is celebrating its 100thanniversary this year and boasts the prestige of a nine-hole, Donald Ross-designed golf course, the Telegram reported, that was recently ranked as North America’s eighth-best nine-hole course in “The Finest Nines,” a book written by former Southbridge resident Anthony Pioppi that was published in February.
“Unfortunately, I think we’re the best-kept secret in central Massachusetts, and we have to change that,” Dono said.
As the club celebrates its centennial, the Telegram reported, it currently has 165 members, but Fontaine hopes to get membership up to 175 by the end of this year, and eventually to 200.
The club has begun reaching out to potential members via Facebook and Instagram, Fontaine told the Telegram, and has also welcomed public play through the e-commerce discounter Groupon, offering eighteen holes with a cart and discounted meal at $99 for a twosome, and $198 for a foursome.
Two years ago, the Telegram reported, Cohasse CC began renting seven acres of land adjacent to the course to a solar-panel company.
Fontaine, 56 and a Southbridge resident, believes there’s a common misconception about Cohasse, the Telegram reported. “They think that everybody up here is a millionaire,” he said.
In truth, the Telegram reported, Cohasse is a blue-collar course, with annual membership fees ranging from $500 for golfers aged 18-21 to $2,650 to those over 40. For those living more than 25 miles from the club, membership is $1,320.
“There’s a sense of pride here,” Dono, 42, of Charlton, Mass., told the Telegram. “We’re tucked away in Southbridge. We’re not a big city, but we have what we consider the best greens [and] some of the most challenging holes in Central Massachusetts, and we have a great membership.”
The Wells family, which owned American Optical Company in Southbridge and founded Old Sturbridge Village, hired Ross to design a nine-hole golf course for the company’s employees and named it Cohasse, which is a Nipmuc Indian word for “land of the tall pines,” the Telegram reported. Eventually, ownership of the club was turned over to the members.
For the club’s centennial celebration, the Telegram reported, a dinner was held to kick off a two-day tournament. Another valued part of the celebration was a painting of the third hole leading up to the clubhouse by Cohasse member Dave Lucier, who was also commissioned by the United States Golf Association to provide paintings of the 2016 U.S. Open.
And at the suggestion of Cohasse’s Superintendent, Paul Veshi, a centennial elm tree was planted in May behind the fourth green and dedicated with a plaque on June 9 in honor of Pep Dumas, a longtime member who died in February, the Telegram reported.
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