Dedham, MASS – Bill McInerney Sr. remembers hitting balls with his father at what is now called McGolf Driving Range and Learning Center after the owners moved it to Bridge Street in Dedham in 1956.
He bought the range in 1980 and ran it with his wife, Marion Maney-McInerney, for decades. Maney-McInerney is one of the most accomplished women golfers in the state, having won several championships, including the 1992 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur.
McInerney, now 74, called the range Bill McInerney’s Driving Range until an economist recommended that he change the name to one word that would be more memorable. On a flight back from playing golf in Scotland, he began doodling on a napkin and came up with McGolf, incorporating the first two letters of his last name and the game of golf. It certainly is easy to remember.
When Bill McInerney Sr. owned McGolf, his son Eric McInerney, PGA, and his brother, Bill Jr., taught at the range. Bill McInerney Jr., a renowned golf instructor, has since bought an award-winning range in Natick, upgraded it and named it KOHR Golf. https://www.kohrgolf.com/
Eric McInerney wonders whether he would have been able to buy McGolf if he hadn’t offered to help two young children at the end of a long day of giving lessons at the range. Those children kept returning for lessons and their father ended up becoming his investor and business partner. Another student serves as his accountant and helped guide him through the purchase of the range.
Back in the 1980’s, the parking lot wasn’t paved and Bill sold balls out of a shack before he built the current facility and he covered several bays about 15 years ago. In 1986, he opened the 18-hole mini-golf course, which is called McGolf Mini-Putt, and some people thought it would never be profitable. He proved his doubters wrong. McGolf Mini-Putt, which has a fish pond and waterfall, brought in non-golfers who sometimes hit a bucket of balls afterward and it now accounts for about 35 percent of McGolf’s revenue.
The artificial turf on each hole is being replaced one hole at a time and the lighting has been upgraded.
Bill McInerney Sr. played on mini-tours in Florida for seven years and on the Asian Tour. His amateur career includes three appearances in the US Amateur, four in the US Mid-Amateur and six Charles River CC club championships, but he hasn’t played golf in 11 years due to a muscle disease. Nevertheless, he gives a couple of lessons a day, sometimes for no charge.
The McGolf Cafe and Creamery, featuring hot dogs, chicken wings, fries and Hershey ice cream, has offered only window service since reopening in June of 2020. McInerney isn’t sure if he’ll ever reopen the inside of the cafe because it’s so small. There is an outdoor patio with tables under a tent, however.
Andy Morse, whose 16 professional victories include a 2000 Buy.dot.com win and two Mass. Open championships, is one of McGolf’s five instructors.
McGolf and all the ranges and golf courses in the state were closed by the pandemic for up to two months last spring. McGolf had always been one of the busiest ranges in New England, but business soared when it reopened in June of 2020 and has been busy ever since.
In 2020, McGolf did record business each month from June through December. In 2021, despite some poor weather, McGolf is well ahead of last year’s revenue.
“McGolf has provided thousands of amateur and pro golfers a local, well run location to sharpen their skills,” said James A. MacDonald, Dedham Select Board member for 28 years and Riverdale resident. “As small, locally owned business, they understand the needs of their customers. Their mini-golf course is a local, family favorite. We all appreciate their hiring of local high school kids. Clearly, a great part of outdoor recreation in Dedham.”
Cliff James, 69, of Needham has practiced at McGolf for the last two years after taking up golf again.
“The thing that makes McGolf different than any other place,” he said, “is the people that work here and the fact that they’re so willing to help. This guy Joe (Chen) is terrific.”
Joe Chen, 19, is in the PGA apprentice program and supervisor at McGolf. He’s worked at the range for two years.
“I would say one of the biggest reasons why this place runs great is probably Eric,” Chen said. “Eric is a super busy guy and he’s always on top of everything that needs to get done and his wife, Min, as well. They’re both really good bosses.”
Peterson has practiced at McGolf for five years and he ranks it as better than the practice facility at Wethersfield CC, a private club in Connecticut that he belonged to for 35 years and which hosted a PGA Tour event for several years.
“I like the way it’s set up,” the 12-handicapper said. “It’s clean, it’s neat. I like all the markers. I know what distance I’m going to. I love the overhead facility here. Summertime, it keeps the sun off me and wintertime we’ve got some heat so I can hit. So I can practice when I want to.”
On the web: McGolfOnline.com