When members David Masse, David Blundin and Eijk Van Otterloo purchased the Ipswich, Mass. club for $12 million earlier this year, plans were put in place to expand the parking field, rehabilitate the mansion, add food-and-beverage features, and build an expanded clubhouse function hall. Masse, via his firm AAM 15 Management, will oversee all operations of the club.
The new owners of The Golf Club at Turner Hill have big plans for the Ipswich, Mass. club, The Salem News reported. Three members acquired the 19-year-old club and all related property and buildings for $12 million earlier this year and are looking to the future.
“We’re going to transform Turner Hill into a prestigious private country club over the next several years, making it the best imaginable experience for every member and guest whenever they enter the property,” said David Masse, one of the three new owners and the one who, via his firm AAM 15 Management, will oversee all operations of the club. His partners are David Blundin of Beverly Farms, Mass. and Eijk Van Otterloo of Marblehead, Mass., The News reported.
“We have a terrific management team in place, which makes my responsibilities much less taxing,” added Masse, founder and CEO of AAM 15 Management. “That means our corporate team can focus all of our energy on Turner Hill improvements we wish to make going forward.”
Masse refers to the key management leadership of the club in General Manager Cindy Zalewski, part of the Turner Hill team since 2004, long-time Director of Golf Nate Hopley and Director of Agronomy John Sadowski (on board since Day 1), The News reported.
Masse, like Blundin and Van Otterloo, enjoys a stunning record of achievement as an investor, The News reported. Van Otterloo, founder of the Boston investment firm GMO LLC and the senior member of the troika in terms of age (85), is best known locally, with wife Rose-Marie, as owners of an acclaimed collection of Flemish and Dutch masterpiece artworks, many of which they have gifted to the Museum of Fine Arts.
They are also known for their wide-ranging philanthropic endeavors, such as the Lynch/Van Otterloo YMCA in Marblehead and The Van Otterloo Family Foundation, The News reported. Van Otterloo’s primary wealth came as a financier in a $100 billion-plus investment firm based in The Netherlands.
Van Otterloo purchased development rights to a portion of the 311-acre Turner Hill site from Neil St. John Raymond at the outset of the project, The News reported. He was also an original investor in Raymond’s effort to build the golf club and more than 180 luxury residences on the property.
Blundin, a serial entrepreneur and a member of 20 various corporate boards, is an original member from 2005; Van Oterloo got involved with the club after first investing in the real estate side of the community (The Residences at The Hills, LLC); and Masse joined Turner Hill in 2020 and continues as a longtime member at nearby Ferncroft Country Club, The News reported.
Masse, an adopted child who grew up in Salem, Peabody and Beverly (Beverly High class of ’81), was educated at North Shore Community College and Salem State, The News reported.
Thanks in part to lucrative returns in some early ventures, Masse began playing golf, first at Ferncroft and now at Turner Hill, a course he likes so much he lives in one of its homes overlooking the golf course, The News reported.
“The experience of living at Turner Hill is extraordinary,” said Masse.
“Golf for me,” he added, “relieves stress, something you need to cope with when dealing with long work days in my business,” Masse siad. “That’s in part why I saw acquiring Turner Hill as an ideal opportunity for investing in my passion for golf.
“I also got involved because I share the same vision as many, if not most, of our members. This is a first-class club we will make even better, not only with noteworthy amenities, including an expanded parking field, rehabilitation of the mansion, additional food-and-beverage features, but most significantly an expanded clubhouse function hall that we plan to build on the west end of the existing Rice Mansion. It will be a beautiful space overlooking the nearby gardens and the 10th and 17th greens.”
Masse, Blundin and Van Otterloo have committed $2.5 million to initial improvements, The News reported. “Call it our immediately accessible kitty for addressing deferred maintenance,” Masse quips. “Our total plans going forward will cost more than $6 million.”
It’s no secret that Masse and partners acquired Turner Hill for a fair price, something the full membership agreed to because of their business talents, track record and financial solvency, The News reported.
Turner Hill is much more than a golf and country club, The News reported. It’s a unique, 300-acre luxury residential community, site of the former Rice estate that Ipswich’s own Raymond, a former Myopia polo player and highly successful Massachusetts real estate developer, purchased from the LaSalette Shrine community in 1997 for $4.5 million to build his dream golf course with luxury residences.
Raymond figured the entire mixed-use complex, featuring more than 100 residential units and a hotel, would cost $120 million, The News reported. The golf course, designed by Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry, opened in 2004 and hosted the 2006 New England PGA championship won by Kernwood’s Frank Dully.
But the membership numbers, revenue cash flow and real estate package never materialized the way Raymond anticipated – or needed, The News reported. As a result, Raymond sold the country club part of the property in 2006 to a 92-member group. Then the 2008 real estate crash hurt Turner Hill’s financial standing big-time, but a couple of its wealthiest members managed to keep the club afloat for more than a decade until Masse, Blundin and Van Otterloo came to the rescue.
“Eijk and David have given me a lot of discretion to get Turner Hill where it belongs among the premier clubs in New England,” says Masse. “I’m working every step of the way to stay as transparent as possible with our initiative plan. The membership has been very supportive, and at the same time and relieved with our taking over the club’s management.”