Committee: Keep Hanover Country Club Open

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Hanover — A committee charged with contemplating the future of Hanover Country Club believes the golf course shouldn’t be shuttered. It also doesn’t think the course can be a money-maker for Dartmouth College, but it has ideas to address needed change.

The 12-person golf course advisory committee released its final report over the weekend, and it recommends keeping the nearly 120-year-old course open. Intertwined with Pine Park, the committee said it sees places to address “the safety, accessibility and popularity of the whole experience,” and that closing the course — one of three options it was charged by college administration to review — “would likely engender a significant backlash, both in the Dartmouth-Hanover community and among alumni,” it said in the introduction to its report.

The committee will hold a final public forum at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Moore Hall’s Filene Auditorium to discuss its report, which will be delivered by Dartmouth executive vice president Rick Mills. The public is invited to attend.

In its report, the committee doesn’t see an immediate future where Hanover Country Club will either break even or generate revenue for the school. However, it offers some suggestions to improve the situation.

One recommendation calls for construction of a new clubhouse on Lyme Road opposite the club’s practice area. Such a facility would help make HCC a better option for golfers not wishing to play an 18-hole round while also providing much-needed space for weddings, functions or classes for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Dartmouth.

The committee also noted “there are also many ways to reconfigure/update the golf course that would make it a more attractive and enjoyable golf facility.”

The report includes a pair of suggestions for rerouting the course, both of which include adding three holes along the perimeter of Dartmouth rugby program’s fields east of Lyme Road and one that also employs part of HCC’s four-hole practice course.

The committee repeated in its report that several alumni have offered financial support, in excess of $10 million, to assist in course operations or the building of a new clubhouse. “It is our sense that these contributions … would not materialize if the course were closed,” the report said.

Additionally, the report suggested the college put operation of HCC in the hands of “an outside entity or entities.” Williams College in Massachusetts does something similar with its Taconic Golf Club.

“Creating a separate operating entity ... would benefit both the college and golf course users, providing greater predictability and accountability associated with a dedicated operator,” it said.

The committee found less to like in the other two options it reviewed. Operating with the current 18-hole configuration, which underwent a redesign in 2002, leaves room for “marginal operational improvement,” but anticipated projects over the next five years make the possibility of breaking even unlikely.

Closing the course and finding alternatives for Dartmouth’s intercollegiate golf programs “would not provide near-term financial relief given the investments needed to shut down the course.” The college would lose endowment funds earmarked for course operation, would need to spend money to remove infrastructure and would “prove to be a distraction from other important initiatives focused on improving Dartmouth College.”

The full report is available online at sites.dartmouth.edu/golf-course-committee/reports-and-documents.