Haverhill, Mass – When Renaissance gives you the boot, you should feel proud.
If that doesn’t make sense to you, keep reading for the explanation. Giving the boot on this occasion has nothing to do with kicking anyone out.
Starting this year, if any member cards a hole-in-one at Renaissance, a private golf club in Haverhill, he or she receives a leather boot. Haverhill has had a long history of making shoes and boots. In 1914, 126 companies in the city manufactured them. The one company still does today provides Renaissance with the boots that the club gives to members who record aces. A few boots have already been awarded and the golfers were encouraged to drink their first beverage after their hole-in-one rounds out of them. A plaque with the details of the ace is later attached to each boot.
“They’re leather, ankle-high boots, kind of old school work boots,” said Tommy Southworth, president of Southworth, which owns Renaissance. “They look nice, they look great on a shelf with a little plaque and I think the beer tastes pretty good.”
“The Boot” is also the name of the club’s new 19th hole Scottish-style pub which is scheduled to open on Oct. 5 on the lower level of the clubhouse. On the wall of the pub hangs a photo of a 1910 sign reading: “Haverhill, The Great Boot and Shoe City.”
“The Boot” will have a full bar, a small bites menu and two Full Swing sports simulators for year-round play of golf and other games.
Renaissance has a pool with a Jacuzzi and waterfalls, two DecoTurf tennis courts and a 30,000-square-foot clubhouse, but the club prides itself as being more of a golf club than a country club.
“This is a golfer’s club first and foremost,” Southworth said.
Southworth pointed out that another Southworth golf club, Willowbend in Mashpee, is more of a lifestyle community with homes of members abutting many of the 27 holes. That is not the case at Renaissance where the focus is on the club’s 18 holes. Southworth credited third-year superintendent Chip FitzGerald with elevating the course conditions.
“Chip has really brought,” Southworth said, “sort of an extra level of care and consideration and passion to this place that I think is really amplifying the inspiration for the course, the Golden Age design.”
Southworth called improvements in course conditions as the “rebirth of Renaissance.” They include removing rough collars and extending fairways up to bunkers to penalize wayward shots.
Tree removal and cart path renovations are planned.
FitzGerald said 40 inches of rain fell on the course this year, but he’s still managed to keep the greens rolling fast.
Renaissance is a challenging course with five sets of tees ranging from 5,179 to 7,031 yards and four more sets of combo tees. There are also five ponds and 110 bunkers. FitzGerald said the club has 225 rakes to help keep the bunkers well kept.
The par-4 10th hole plays from 299 to 370 yards onto a punch bowl green that cannot be seen from the tee. So when golfers leave the green, they ring a former ship bell that the course’s designer, Brian Silva, donated to the club. FitzGerald had the bell in his office until Southworth instructed him this year to move it to a more visible location.
This week Southworth Development announced the 32-year-old business had rebranded itself as Southworth to reflect a shift beyond being a developer to focusing on being a trusted curator of an elevated lifestyle whose portfolio of inclusive clubs offers authentic community and connection – for a life well-lived. Tommy Southworth and Managing Principal Matt Deitch have appointed executives to execute their vision of developing decidedly different, leading-edge private club communities for a new generation.
Southworth also owns Meredith Bay in Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, Creighton Farms in Aldie, Virginia; The Abaco Club on Great Abaco Island, The Bahamas; and Machrihanish Dunes in Argyll, Scotland.
Southworth said the company would like to purchase at least two more golf courses and an announcement could be made within six months. He said the company is exploring building properties or purchasing existing ones on the East Coast, including Florida, and the Caribbean, such as Puerto Rico, but he added that locales in Texas and Arizona would be good fits as well.