Local officials are looking at various alternatives for the 358-acre, 18-hole Enfield, N.H. property. The 15-year old club has seen declines in membership that have contributed to the financial crisis.
The future of the Montcalm Golf Club in Enfield, N.H., is in question after the owner detailed financial pressures that the private club is facing in a letter to members, reported the Valley News. The Upper Valley Land Trust is considering playing a role in determining how the property might be used, the Valley News reported.
Upper Valley Land Trust President Jeanie McIntyre said she toured the 18-hole, 358-acre golf course in Enfield on August 10th and told the Valley News that “in recent days, we’ve been discussing various alternatives [for the property] with some of the interested parties.”
McIntyre stressed she has not had any direct conversations with Montcalm Club owner Andy Sigler about the golf course and said that the Land Trust’s communications with “interested parties”—whom she declined to identify—do not envision placing the land in “traditional conservancy,” but instead would entail Montcalm continuing to operate as a golf course, reported the Valley News.
The land trust already owns land parcels adjacent to the golf course, which it pays taxes on, McIntyre said. “There are a lot of different ways (the Montcalm) property can be owned and managed in the future,” she added.
McIntyre said she toured the property at the invitation of concerned individuals, which came in the wake of a letter that Sigler recently sent to club members outlining the financial bind in which the 15-year-old golf course finds itself as the sport struggles to attract players, reported the Valley News.
“Membership fees at Montcalm are insufficient to cover the annual operating cost,” said Sigler in a two-page letter to club members. “I have been willing and able to fund the deficit each year, but this is not a sustainable option.”
The Valley News reported that Sigler wrote that he wanted to “develop a plan that will sustain Montcalm in future years in a way that will preserve its benefits, namely a well-maintained private club that is not crowded.”
Sigler declined to comment, reported the Valley News.
In his letter, Sigler said there are currently 44 “local full members” with 17 in the “additional member category” and 21 “remote members” at the club. Membership dues generated annual revenues of $300,000 on top of $200,000 in golf shop revenue, according to the letter, reported the Valley News.
The Valley News reported that annual operating expenses total $1.1 million, “leaving a deficit of $600,000,” which “does not account for funds for capital improvements or new equipment periodically,” Sigler wrote.
Sigler explained that he is seeking to form a committee of four to six club members that would make “strategic recommendations” about how to move forward. He proposed several solutions to the “fiscal problems,” including recruiting more members, increasing membership fees—which range from $500 for those under 20 to $4,500 for a single full local member, according to the club’s Facebook page—to sponsoring more events that would raise money and granting tee times to non-members “on certain days of the months,” reported the Valley News.
Sigler, 87, a Norwich, Vt. resident and former chief executive of paper maker and forest products company Champion International, spent four years building the carefully manicured golf course on hills near Mascoma Lake, the Valley News reported. The George F. Sargent Jr.-designed course is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful, and challenging, in New England and features a mile-long drive from the gate to the clubhouse.
In the letter, however, Sigler flagged the likelihood that an ownership change looms for Montcalm, reported the Valley News.
“At some point, I (or my estate) will need to sell Montcalm,” he wrote. “It is unlikely that the current membership number and fiscal situation would entice a buyer who is interested in maintaining the club as we know it.
“Instead, potential buyers would likely convert the club to a public course or create an associated housing development that would likely reduce it to a 9-hole residential course,” Sigler wrote.
The Valley News reported that Meredith Smith, chairwoman of the Enfield Selectboard, described Montcalm GC as “always clouded in mystery, to tell you the truth” and is unknown to even many town residents. She expressed concern that the property could land in the hands of a developer who would build condos for the wealthy, similar to what happened at the collapsed Kings Ridge ski area in New London, N.H.
“I would like to see workforce housing,” said Smith, noting she was speaking for herself and not in her capacity as a Selectboard member. “We don’t need more McMansions. We need housing for working people, and a supermarket. Everybody wants a Market Basket here.”
McIntyre, with the Upper Valley Land Trust, called Montcalm an “absolutely fabulous property. I can understand the passion members have for that golf course,” the Valley News reported.
“I think there are different possibilities of what could happen there,” McIntyre added.
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