MASHPEE, Mass – The Country Club of New Seabury in Mashpee, Massachusetts has undergone its share of upheaval in recent years, with unwelcome changes in membership structure making waves and leading to dissatisfaction with ownership, staff and even some lawsuits in 2016. But through all the controversy and chaos, one thing has remained constant: the eye-popping venue and the magnificent golf courses.
When it opened in the early 1960s, the marketing brochures instantly dubbed New Seabury’s Ocean Course the “Pebble Beach of the East.” That was a bit of a stretch, although the Ocean Course does feature three starting holes that play alongside Nantucket Sound and are both stunning and challenging, especially when the wind howls, which it often does. For years, the club’s second course, called the Dunes, took a backseat. But that is no longer the case, thanks to an extensive renovation that was completed in May.
New Seabury was purchased by New York financier Carl Icahn at bankruptcy in 1998, and he has spent freely to update the resort, which for years appeared as though it was stuck in the ‘60s. The original clubhouse was replaced in 2001 by a 43,000-square-foot structure that includes a veranda overlooking the golf course and offers a glimpse of Nantucket Sound, a hotel-style atrium, stone fireplaces, and a 1,600-square-foot pro shop.
The newest addition is the club’s redesigned restaurant, 95 Shore, which is open to the public. The glass-enclosed dining room overlooks Nantucket Sound, features a wraparound bar and serves steaks and fresh seafood in a casual, upscale setting.
The Lure Bar, a beach bar and restaurant located a short drive away, is also relatively new and has quickly become a favored local spot for enjoying steamers, oysters and lobster rolls with a craft beer or a cocktail, while listening to live entertainment and savoring the sunset on the oceanfront deck.
The Popponesset Inn, a long-time Cape restaurant, remains a popular destination for upscale dining, as well as for weddings and private functions.
While the Ocean Course remains the jewel of the two courses, with a breathtaking front nine that features holes surrounded by water, followed by an inland, tree-lined back nine, the Dunes has been enhanced with redesigned and repositioned bunkers, expanded fairway edges, re-contoured mounds and softened slopes on multiple greens.
Several forced carries were eliminated, providing golfers with choices of attack, while the 18th green, formerly the ninth, was shifted back, transforming the hole into a risk-reward par 5 that has a pond short and left of the green.
But no change is more obvious than on the 16th hole, which previously was the seventh. A pond that forced golfers to lay up or attempt a risky carry has been removed, allowing higher handicap golfers a more realistic chance at par.
“The first priority of the project was the full bunker renovation, which included 79 bunkers that were redesigned and repositioned for today’s golfer,” said Scott Nickerson, director of agronomy and project manager. “The bunkers went from deep and challenging to a little more forgiving, and now provide golfers of all skill levels a chance to hit shots from a very consistent sand surface.”
Still, the Ocean Course remains difficult to top. While some courses include “ocean” in their title, yet offer fleeting glimpses of the water, or in the case of Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club in Brewster, none at all, New Seabury’s Ocean Course will make you feel like you’re playing alongside sun worshippers. In fact, drives that stray too far left on the second and third holes could have you playing your next shot off the nearby beach.
Renovations to the course will begin in the fall with the goal of creating a seaside feel for the entire front nine, and improving the scenery and incorporating a natural appearance. Some holes will be lengthened, green complexes will be reshaped, the irrigation system will be upgraded and drainage will be improved. The course is expected to reopen for next summer.
Although New Seabury is technically a private club, tee times are available to guests staying at one of the cottages or condos on property, which also allows access to the private beach, two swimming pools, the athletic center, tennis courts and spa.
As New Seabury looks to the future, with a new general manager, a new director of golf, to name only a few of the changes, the emphasis is on providing multiple options in a quality venue that has stood the test of time. The goal is to replace the controversy of recent years with high-end customer service, whether you’re a member, a resort guest or a local choosing to enjoy dinner or a drink at one of its restaurants and bars.
PHOTO CREDIT: Photos by Kent Earle