This soon-to-be municipal Massachusetts golf course might get a new clubhouse — at the cost of $5 million

·4 min read

QUINCY, Massachusetts – Commissioner of Natural Resources Dave Murphy said major infrastructure improvements are coming to Furnace Brook Golf Course now that the city is preparing to take over operation of one of the three courses in the city.

At a city council meeting Monday, Murphy told councilors that one project is in the design phase, another is on deck and his department is thinking of new ways to market the course to a wider audience.

The first order of business will be to replace the course’s clubhouse, which is almost 100 years old. Quincy assumes control of the course on Jan. 1.

“The current clubhouse is basically a converted house that was built in 1926. It doesn’t meet a lot of the standards required for a public building,” he said.

Murphy said the project is “very early” in the conceptual design process, but he estimates it will cost between $5 million and $5.3 million to replace the clubhouse. He would have to come back before the council to ask for the money before any construction could begin.

The existing maintenance building also needs work. Murphy described it as “basically a lean-to.”

“It’s an old cinderblock building with a leaky roof and they’ve kind of converted some pieces of metal to cover equipment,” he said. “It’s far from the best way to operate.”

List

Golfweek's Best 2021: Best public golf courses you can play, state by state

Murphy said no major capital improvements have been done at the golf course in some time, which made sense because the previous operators knew the city would be taking over.

“We’re going into this eyes wide open,” Murphy said.

Ward 4 City Councilor Brian Palmucci asked if the golf course had made enough money to sustain itself – or even make a profit – when it was privately run. Murphy said it had, but that the city is looking to expand its membership-driven model of operation.

“I do think this will be marketed as a public course, in addition to maintaining the membership business model up there and a few of the night things that generate quite a bit of revenue,” he said. “The city’s goal will be to market this as a public course and generate more tee times.”

Murphy said that even with upcoming capital expenditures, the course should come close to breaking even each year. He also said the city sees the course as “an opportunity to work with our recreation department and really introduce many more of our residents.”

“Golf is a pretty exclusive sport,” he said. “They’ve done a very good job with some clinics there, the Quincy High golf team plays at Furnace Brook, but the truth is that there is an overwhelming percentage of our community that will never get a chance to play golf. We are hoping to utilize this asset in a manner that expands opportunities to play golf.”

The city’s relationship with the golf club started in 1971 when then-Mayor James McIntyre proposed a 50-year lease on the course. At the time, the club was unable to pay its 1970 property taxes – a $17,500 bill – and “saw no prospect of improvement in its financial future,” a 1979 Patriot Ledger article states.

Under the lease, the club was to pay the city $1 per year for 50 years in lieu of taxes. At the end of that time – June 2021 – the land would be given to the city. As the end of the lease approached, Koch said he and his staff spent time meeting with the club’s management to discuss the best course of action. It was decided the land will remain a golf course, but the city will take over its maintenance and management at the start of 2022.

The course has been known as the Furnace Brook Golf Club since 1938, when the name changed from the Stoney Brae Golf Club. Stoney Brae was built in 1923.

At the council meeting, Palmucci said he was concerned residents of the city would be “on the hook” paying for a golf pro, major upgrades and other expenses that aren’t necessarily in the city’s purview. He voted against giving the course $400,000 for expenses Monday, as did Councilor-at-large Anne Mahoney.

The appropriation did pass after a discussion assuring councilors that they would have the authority to cut golf course operations out of future city budgets.

Reach Mary Whitfill at mwhitfill@patriotledger.com.