For more than a decade I’ve been friends with a gentleman and his wife from New Hampshire that play a lot of golf, and after meeting them on the course while playing with a fellow golf blogger, we’ve stayed in touch via social media. We often discuss topics related to golf business and course design, and the subject frequently shifts to golf course sales and closures. Unfortunately, his home club has now become the subject of that very discussion. Below is his account of what’s happening at Montcalm Golf Club.
Soon after it opened in 2003, Montcalm Golf Club in Enfield, NH appeared in Golf Digest’s prestigious “Top 10 New Courses in the Country” list. Now, just 15 years later the course appears close to closing after years of financial struggles.
But let’s begin back in better times. In 2000, Champion International CEO Andrew Sigler retired to nearby Norwich, VT after a career that included positions on the Board of Directors for General Electric, Bristol-Meyers, Morgan Stanley, and at his Ivy League alma mater – Dartmouth College. Sigler is an avid golfer and holds memberships at Augusta National and Cypress Point, among others. Accordingly, he decided to build his own course and happened upon a piece of property with its own interstate exit. Indeed, Exit 15 on Interstate 89 leads to a dirt road and a wooden gate. That gate is the mile-long entrance road to Montcalm Golf Club.
In high times, the course held north of 150 members. Recently released documents show just 80 for this season. Resultantly, revenue which approached $700,000 in some years now is closer to $400,000 with the same $1.1 Million operating expense. For 15 years Sigler has willingly made up the difference, but now as he approaches 87 he has decided enough is enough and has made it public he’s ready to sell.
That, however, is the problem. The six parcel property is assessed at $4.4 Million and comes with a hefty $100,000 per year tax bill. This for a piece of property devoid of any municipal services. A prospective buyer could have the land and course for cheap, but also would immediately be faced with $600,000 worth of equipment and services that need to be attended to in order to open the doors again in 2019.
Adding to the Montcalm woes, the course of Sigler’s alma mater, Dartmouth College’s Hanover Country Club is just miles up the road and publicly stated earlier in the year that THEY are losing $600,000 per year, and several public sessions were held about the possibility of closing and/or revamping that layout.
Sigler is someone who rubbed elbows with Warren Buffett, Jack Welch, Rupert Murdoch and the like, and now faces the possibility that the property he’s put more than $25 Million into will be all but given away because of its yearly deficits.