A Tee Party at Montague
Course Celebrates a Century of Golf
Justin Tilton, left, and Jon White, both of Randolph, head down the first fairway at Montague Golf Club in Randolph yesterday.The 100th anniversary of the course was celebrated yesterday. Valley News -- James M. Patterson Purchase photo reprints »
Pat Menger of Randolph celebrates after putting for birdie on the 13th hole at the Montague Golf Club in Randolph Saturday, June 29, 2013. The club celebrated its 100th anniversary with a scramble tournament which Menger and her teammates, from left, Tom Menger, Theresa Chun and Tom Sawyer competed. Purchase photo reprints »
Sue Terry of Braintree turns over a putter to Angela Hildenbrand of Randolph, right, as the pair arrive on the 18th green at Montague Golf Club during its 100th anniversary scramble tournament in Randolph Saturday, June 29, 2013. At back left are Jack Cowdrey and Carol Buckley. Purchase photo reprints »
Randolph — Since 1913, Montague Golf Club has given the public a course amicable to almost any skill level. Yesterday, MGC’s staff gave golfers 100 reasons to celebrate.
A sold-out shotgun scramble tournament was held in fair conditions to mark a century since the grounds opened as a membership-owned course, named after the Montague House, an adjacent home where philanthropist Robert Kimbell lived near the turn of the 20th century.
Kimbell first laid links on the grounds in 1897 so that his children could play during the summer. Eventually, he invited the public to use the course before selling it. One hundred years later, it remains one of the area’s most popular public-access courses.
Before yesterday’s tournament, club co-owner Sam Sammis and club professional Paul Politano spoke briefly to the 60 golfers on hand, occupying all of Montague’s 30 carts before the tournament began.
“I can’t tell you how excited (my wife) Jinny and I are to be a part of this event,” Sammis said. “This is special. There aren’t many clubs that are 100 years old. It’s been here a long time and there’s been a lot of hard work to get it in the shape it’s in today.
Gazing at its pristine fairways and greens, it’s hard to imagine that Montague not long ago was left ravaged in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene. With floodwaters from the abutting third branch of the White River rising high onto the course on Aug. 28, 2011, 4 to 6 feet of silt and sludge were strewn over many of the holes. Some entire fairways and greens were lost, resulting in about $700,000 in necessary repair work, Sammis said.
“There were uprooted trees all over the place, all kinds of debris that got washed onto the course, on top of the soil and sludge. It was a disaster, but it’s absolutely beautiful now,” Sammis said.
Indeed, MGC users are still celebrating the refurbishments, completed last year. The 10th and 18th holes, which border the river and suffered the most extensive damages, are greener than ever. The 10th tee box is stationed on an elevated perch with sweeping views of the surrounding landscape.
“When I first got here, it was like being on the moon,” said Politano, in his second full season at Montague. “Our groundskeeper, Andy Wass, and his crew just did a fantastic job with the repairs.”
Formerly a nine-hole course, it expanded to 18 after the Sammises — since 1971 owners of the nearby Three Stallion Inn bed & breakfast — donated 90 acres to the previous owners in 1992. Now on 150 acres, the par-70 course is user friendly and walkable, with moderate hills and few of the trappings intentionally built into some course designs.
“When we built the back nine in particular, we wanted to make sure it was going to be something that people would enjoy,” said Sammis. “That’s why it has moderate undulations, not a lot of up-and-down sections. A lot of people walk the course. It’s got wide fairways and we keep the rough trimmed pretty short.
“Ninety-five percent of all golfers, amateur and pro, shoot over 100 on a given (18-hole) course. The way I see it, why design your course for five percent of all golfers?”
The course isn’t without its challenges. It features four holes more than 400 yards . The 202-yard 10th is a tricky par 3 from the elevated tee, and an off-target drive on holes 12-15 is fairly susceptible to landing in the tall grass separating the fairways.
Sammis is dedicated to keeping the course open to the public, giving it a community-oriented feel many of its users appreciate.
Longtime Randolph resident Jack Cowdrey has been golfing at Montague for 30 years.
“It’s just an awesome spot. It’s beautiful, they do a great job with the upkeep, and anyone can play here,” Cowdrey said. “It’s just a great place.”
The Sammises are in the process of relocating Montague’s club house to the Three Stallion Inn, a space they feel is better suited for it. The new club house is set to open next week.
“The (current) clubhouse needs a new foundation and the Inn has more of a comfortable setup,” Sammis said. “We think people are going to like it.”
Jared Pendak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3306.