A redesigned clubhouse and lively restaurant, a renovated 18-hole course (with the second to follow), and a renewed focus on members, guests and staff has positioned The Club at New Seabury on the Nantucket Sound for its next stage as a not-so-hidden gem.
While The Club at New Seabury in Mashpee, Mass. can stake claim to being the oldest residential golf community in New England, the “new” in its name is extremely relevant these days. Founded in 1962 and nestled on 1,500 acres overlooking the Nantucket Sound, the property has undergone a transformation over the last couple years—with more on the horizon.
Renovating and enhancing everything at The Club at New Seabury has lifted the spirits of members and staff, says Chris Card, the club’s President and Executive Director.
“When we set out to rebrand and re-energize a ‘new New Seabury,’ we were committed and laser-focused on going beyond just amenity enhancements,” Card says. “Our new clubhouse and 95 Shore restaurant, our renovated guest accommodations, new real estate offerings, the golf course renovations and so much more have really improved what was already a hidden gem.”
New Seabury is a community within a resort that offers activities and venues that satisfy members, neighbors and guests of varying interests. Whether it’s relaxing at the beaches and absorbing the ocean views, playing on the club’s two championship waterfront golf courses, working out in the state-of-the-art fitness facility, swimming in the Cape’s largest pool or hitting balls on one of the 16 tennis courts, New Seabury offers something for everyone.
In that way, New Seabury is a modern take on the traditional private club. While it maintains a level of exclusivity—catering to members and their guests—the resort component offers an invitation to anyone looking to experience luxury and refinement, on and off the golf course. The property has strived to provide an escape from the day-to-day grind for generations, and has continued to evolve with the club industry’s transition from stuffy and stale to fresh and vibrant.
And its latest round of renovations, Card points out, went beyond the physical transformation of the property.
“To be a good place to live, we have to be a good place to work,” he says. “Focusing on and investing in our employees has been the absolute game-changer here.
“Ensuring [that our staff] has the proper tools, as well as feeling empowered enough to treat our members like members again, has been key,” Card says. “Energizing and changing the employee culture, quite honestly, has been the most rewarding part of what we have accomplished here in such a short time. In the end, we feel we are enriching the membership experience and have created an environment that has evolved as an ideal setting to live, relax and play.”
Continuing the “Smart Growth”
There are approximately 1,700 homes currently within the New Seabury community, according to Card, with hundreds of new homes still to be built—approximately 30 per year over the next few years. Residents are not required to join the club, says Bob Higgins, Director of Membership, and conversely, members do not have to own property in New Seabury to join.
“We really have a nice makeup of members at the club and within our community,” says Card. “There’s a variety of demographics and reasons why people love New Seabury. Some are here part-time and/or full-time, depending on the season and where they are in their lives.
“Because we’re not far from Boston, many professionals and young families are looking for a weekend or holiday escape or a place to summer with family and friends,” he adds, “while retirees or recent empty-nesters have made us their seasonal or year-round home, and have invited multi-generations of family members to visit and escape to our hidden gem.”
There are six membership levels at The Club at New Seabury, with the Diamond Membership being the most elite and all-encompassing. In addition to Golf and Lifestyle options, the club offers a discounted Junior membership for people between the ages of 22 and 39, and a Silver membership that rewards existing members having reached the age of 80.
New Seabury was New England’s first “smart growth” community, Card explains, highlighted by the founders’ foresight to convince the town of Mashpee to adopt a newly created zoning bylaw that permitted “cluster development” on the 1,240-acre Great Neck peninsula.
Neighborhoods (villages) were built on the land most suited to development and the roads follow the naturally rolling topography, while environmentally sensitive areas, such as salt ponds, coastal marshes, inland wetlands, and estuaries were preserved or protected.
Freed from the restrictions of traditional zoning, land at New Seabury was used far more efficiently: single-family homes are clustered closely together on relatively small lots; patio homes are tightly grouped in a zero-lot-line village overlooking the vast open space of a golf course; townhomes line expansive fairways; and a seaside neighborhood, reminiscent of an old New England fishing village, affords hundreds of families access to a beautiful stretch of Nantucket Sound beach.
“Nearly a half-century later, the underlying principles guiding development at New Seabury remain,” Card says. “Efficient use of land continues to be an overarching goal of Bayswater Development, as is respect for the distinctive neighborhoods offering lifestyle and amenity options that appeal to a broad spectrum of buyers—whether they are avid golfers, ‘second-generation residents’ seeking to recapture the Cape Cod experiences of their childhood with their own children, or active retirees enjoying the convenience of a community where shopping, restaurants, and recreational opportunities comfortably coexist.”
The resort community offers three new neighborhoods within its boundaries. There are eight models of Cottages at New Seabury, ranging from 1,422 sq. ft. to 2,302 sq. ft. Top-end homes are being built in the Oceanfront at Seaside development, where six models, ranging from 3,000 sq. ft. to 4,091 sq. ft., are offered. In between, The Preserve at Flat Pond is a gated community that is quickly reaching its threshold.
Creative Dining “Confusion”
With five restaurants ranging from light fare to specialty dining, Pedro Gonzalez, Senior Director of Food & Beverage at New Seabury, says the club has something to satisfy every palate.
“This year we have raised the bar in the area of casual and fine cuisine, with two refined venues, 95 Shore and The Lure Bar, that opened this summer,” Gonzalez says. “95 Shore really has us excited. It radiates upscale, yet casual, with stunning views of Nantucket Sound. At the center of 95 Shore is a redesigned wraparound bar and dining area with great views. And the palate won’t be disappointed, because there are many well-balanced culinary creations from Executive Chef Mark [Porcaro].”
Porcaro loves the new dining atmosphere at the club. “A great restaurant is one that just makes you feel like you’re not sure whether you went out or you came home, and ‘confuses’ you,” he says. “We want to have an atmosphere that makes our guests feel like they are as comfortable as when they are at home with family and friends—with great food, of course.”
The club offers a five-course wine-and-food pairing once a month with seasonal plates, local seafood and vegetables from surrounding farms. “We have many new dishes, and some old favorites, too,” Porcaro says. “We focus on dressing up local classics. This isn’t your grandmother’s baked cod. Our dish is [made with] Parmesan and panko crust, chorizo white beans, and stew salsa verde.”
In addition to 95 Shore, which is open to the public, and The Lure Bar, New Seabury is home to the iconic Cape restaurant, The Popponesset Inn—situated along the ocean in a relaxed setting with more than 175 wine selections and a 200-seat tented beachfront locale for weddings and private functions.
The Sand Wedge Bistro, located in the clubhouse with easy access to the golf courses and locker rooms, offers grab-and-go breakfast and deli sandwiches, while The Athletic Club Café provides a health-conscious menu of smoothies, juices, salads and flatbreads.
Playing on The Cape
The 9,000-sq. ft. Athletic Club at New Seabury boasts a world-class tennis complex with 12 Har-Tru and four all-weather courts. The fitness center has the latest workout equipment and a full schedule of classes, with a spacious pool and playground outside for the youngest members and guests. There’s also pickleball, bocce, basketball courts and walking trails that wind their way throughout the property.
The highlight of all of the recreational activity offered to members, though, is the club’s two 18-hole golf courses.
“We’re so lucky to have at the center of The Club at New Seabury, two of the best [golf] layouts on the Cape,” says Director of Golf Jim Clay. “The Ocean Course boasts several holes along the beach with many sweeping views of the ocean, while The Dunes Course heads more inland, threading through the wetlands and woods.”
After being renovated by Hepner Golf Design to enhance its playability, The Dunes Course reopened this spring. It sits on 125 acres and now features redesigned and rebuilt, repositioned bunkers, expanded fairway edges through the green, re-contoured mounds and softened slopes on multiple greens, as well as the relocation of cart paths on some holes.
The Dunes Course project initially started as a bunker renovation only, reports Director of Agronomy Scott Nickerson. The existing bunkers were breaking down, and contamination from drainage and washouts had made them unplayable.
“As we got into the planning, we looked at what we could do to improve the overall playability of the course,” Nickerson says. “We brought in a few architects to kind of give us a short presentation on their thoughts. We settled on Bruce [Hepner], and from there we tried to address playability issues.”
That led to the reconstruction of holes 18 and 5, to overcome greens characteristics that had been limiting pin placement and overall playability. “Through Bruce’s design, we also eliminated 165 trees, to open up areas and create a more visually appealing tee shot,” Nickerson notes.
The final piece of the puzzle was repositioning the pond on hole number 16. This improved the landing area and gave higher-handicap players an ability to negotiate the hole without having to carry the water.
“From a maintenance point of view, we highly improved bunker faces and addressed all of our turf problems as far as drainage and traffic flow,” Nickerson adds.
The Ocean Course was designed by William Mitchell and first opened in 1962. Its spectacular views of Nantucket Sound and Martha’s Vineyard will be further enhanced when it gets renovated at the end of the 2019 season; Hepner will be tasked with that as well.
“Essentially we are addressing the same issues on the Ocean Course, with drainage being the huge maintenance factor,” Nickerson says. “We currently plan on doing over a total of five greens. We have two greens where we will improve playability and pin placements, and we are looking to fix three greens that have historically had maintenance issues, to now keep them all within the same characterization as the other greens.”
The Members’ Voice
Maintaining—or growing—membership is an issue for clubs across the country. New Seabury, Card says, leans on its members to help the club continue to provide what they want and need.
“We constantly focus on staying relevant and engaging with our members on what matters most to them,” Card says. “This is their resort and their community, so they have a voice in what types of events and amenities are most important to them.”
Part of that challenge is staffing the club with employees who treat the members as prized guests, and not just numbers.
“We work diligently on the physical attributes of the club, as well as on building a culture where people want to advance their careers and spend their days, evenings and weekends here,” Card says. “So it is imperative that we hire the best of the best. We do spend a lot of time and energy to ensure that we have a staff that provides excellent services to members and guests.”
And those efforts have all come together to infuse an exciting new spirit throughout New England’s oldest golf community.
“The future is extremely bright, particularly with the renewed enthusiasm and renovations we’ve made to the club,” Card says. “We will continue to strive to make New Seabury the best on the Cape and also within the New England region
“Our focus is to ensure that our guests receive the attention and customer service they deserve,” Card adds. “And with a combination of tranquility and best-in-class amenities, we hope to attract new members and guests and keep those who make this their home happy.”
At A Glance: The Club at New Seabury
Location: Mashpee, Mass. (Cape Cod)
Clubhouse Size: 42,000 sq. ft.
Annual Golf Rounds: 22,000
Golf Course Designer: William Mitchell
(Redesign by Hepner Golf Design)
President & Executive Director: Chris Card
Director of Golf: Jim Clay
Director of Agronomy/Superintendent: Scott Nickerson
Executive Chef: Mark Porcaro
Director of Catering Sales: Jennifer Perry
Director of Fitness: Amy Warr
Director of Lodging: Meg Feleciano
Director of Tennis: Cody Hunter
Senior Director of Food & Beverage: Pedro Gonzalez
Membership Director: Bob Higgins
Human Resources Director: Lauree Coffey
Controller: Sue Hoover
Director of Facilities: David Hatfield
President of Real Estate Development: Joe Colasuonno