It's Official: Metacomet Country Club Sold
Purchase & Sales Agreement with Marshall Development of Pawtucket, RI
The Metacomet Country Club in East Providence has been sold to Marshall Development of Pawtucket, RI. At least a purchase and sales agreement has been signed by both parties. Ending days of speculation, a statement was released to area media by Marshall which said partly, that they plan to develop Metacomet into an “exciting, first-class, mixed-use property that will bolster both commerce and community in the upper bay.” All reports indicate that Marshall has no interest in retaining Metacomet as a golf course or country club.
Tommy Gorman the publisher and owner of New England.Golf, reported that the famed Country Club on Veteran’s Memorial Parkway is set to close. In a February 24, 2020 article, the golf publication reported that “an investment group led by Brad Faxon could stand to make an estimated $10 million profit on the sale of Metacomet Country Club, a 118-year old 105-acre Donald Ross-design overlooking Narraganset Bay, which they purchased in April 2019 for $2.2 million, after breaking promises to improve and keep the course open.”
Club membership was informed by a management letter that golf course ownership is in serious conversation with a potential developer. A year ago, the property was listed for sale at about $3.5 million and sold to the Faxon group for $2.2 million. Brad Faxon is a former PGA Tour player. Other Faxon partners are Steve Napoli, Brendan VanDeventer, Karl Augenstein and Tim Fay. The pristine 105-acre parcel overlooks Narragansett Bay and is considered one of New England’s finest country club/golf courses. The letter to members was dated February 21, 2020, stated in part:
“…unspecified losses last year were greater than originally projected and that the owners are in discussions with a company to purchase the property. Plans are for the course to remain open as a public golf course until early summer.
“We would like to inform the Membership that we have entered discussions toward the possible sale of the Club property. It is probably not a surprise to our members that our first calendar year was financially difficult, with our losses higher than in the Club’s two prior years. Our high hopes and primary intent were to grow the Club’s Membership to levels necessary to support the club with minimal “Outside” play and to maintain the Club as a private club. Based on the golf dynamics of the club and the state, and the downward trends of the golf industry, in general we do not see a path toward our ability to do that as a private or even semi-private club.
Since our November meeting, we have been approached by several development groups interested in acquiring the property, one of which we have chosen to proceed with. Part of the discussion involves this group potentially keeping the course open for the balance of the golf season as a public course. Based on the current discussions, if this transaction were to be completed, it would likely be finalized by the end of June or July of this year.”
Some current members obviously upset with the recent developments are deciding if they will remain as members or seek other golf course arrangements. Any future development of this parcel which differs from the current plan, would need city council approvals.
The current Metacomet website does not mention the situation. It does list this narrative: “A Rhode Island Tradition. All golfers love a Donald Ross design, tremendous course conditions and great putting surfaces. All apply to the golf experience at Metacomet Golf Club, where golf has always been the centerpiece of activity. In the early days, golfing legends Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, and Gene Sarazen enjoyed the golf experience on our fairways. Glenn Collett Vare, 6-time US Women’s Amateur Champion, grew up and learned the game at Metacomet. Throughout our history professionals and amateurs alike are amazed how the course design has withstood the test of time.”
As for the name, Metacomet, it was the fashion at the turn of the 20th century for golf clubs organizing in New England to select Native American names. Metacomet was a great Indian Chief of the Wampanoag Tribe, a friend of the Pilgrim settlers of the 17th century who was later named King Philip by the English after he succeeded his father as leader of the Wampanoag tribe.
The course was originally designed by Leonard Byles, but, in 1924, Donald Ross was hired to consult and re-design the golf course which currently stands. The new layout was opened on August 7, 1926. Known as a challenging course with lots of character, it is widely considered to have among the best putting greens in New England.
Donald Ross also designed the Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford. The course was designed by Ross in 1914 and played host to the 1931 PGA Championship and hosts the prestigious Northeast Amateur every year.
Other Ross Rhode Island courses are Rhode Island Country Club, Barrington; Sakonnet Golf Club, Little Compton; Point Judith Country Club, Narragansett; Triggs Memorial Golf Course, Providence; Agawam Hunt, Rumford; Wannamoisett Country Club, Rumford; Goddard Memorial State Park, Warwick; Warwick Country Club, Warwick; The Misquamicut Club, Watch Hill and the Winnapaug Golf Course, Westerly.
East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva issued a statement on Thursday saying that “The City is fortunate that a local Rhode Island developer, who knows East Providence well, will be working on this project. Working together with Marshall Development, we’ll achieve something beneficial to East Providence through development that makes sense for our community.” The Mayor’s statement further said that “we look forward to working closely with the City Council and Planning and Zoning Boards to develop a plan that suits the City.”
At-large-City Councilman Bob Rodericks expressed “disappointment” with the looming sale of Metacomet to a property developer. “I know the membership and many residents are not happy with the Faxon (owner Brad Faxon) group. The club was listed at $3.5M and sold for about $2.2M last year. I had hoped they would improve the club and keep it as it always was,” said Rodericks. “They are zoned for a golf course and open space and will need variances and approvals to do anything beyond that. I certainly plan to closely watch and listen to Marshall’s plans for the property,” added Rodericks. “As always, I will keep an open mind.”