In a sign of the continuing financial struggles within Rhode Island’s golf industry, members of the Pawtucket Country Club have voted to sell the legendary course to three members who have pledged to keep the course open and make capital investments to upgrade the 113-year old club.
The three purchasing members are David Rampone, Benny Martin and Gary Reis, according to a club statement.
``As a member of Pawtucket Country Club for the past 28 years, I’m pleased to be in a position to take this action along with my partners to preserve one of Rhode Island’s best golf courses and to protect the traditions that have lasted here for the past 113 years,’’ said Rampone.
``I grew up playing golf at Pawtucket with my father. My son is a member and I want my grandson to learn to play golf at Pawtucket Country Club. The sale completely repositions the financial standing of the club. It also allows us to recruit new members and provide them with assurances that the club is financially sound and they can join without concerns of assessments looming,’’ said Rampone.
The club is owned by the members. As is the case with other local private golf courses, Pawtucket faced uncertain economic times with the sale. Members voted overwhelmingly at a special meeting Tuesday evening to execute the sale, said Bill Fischer, a club spokesman and member.
``This preserves the club,’’ said Fischer. ``We have a very loyal membership and they were very appreciative that this option was available,’’ said Fischer.
Pawtucket Country Club, which was designed by well-known golf architect Willie Park Jr., is an 18-hole, 6,500-yard layout that plays to a par 69. The club has a full dining and banquet facility and an Olympic sized pool. It is located at 900 Armistice Boulevard on the Pawtucket and Seekonk border. It has hosted many Rhode Island Golf Association events. The club is currently debt-free.
The move will likely fuel speculation about other nearby golf courses, which face financial difficulty in a very competitive golf environment. Metacomet and Agawam Hunt are located nearby and reportedly have had challenges in attracting new members in recent years.
``There is no doubt that the economic collapse of 2008 greatly affected the golf course industry both regionally and nationally,’’ said Rampone. ``We were able to weather the economic downturn while continuing to make investments in the club. This sale will allow us to make additional capital investments in both the course and the facility to to enhance the family friendly atmosphere that currently exists,’’ said Rampone.
No purchase price was announced.