BOLTON, Mass – Escalante Golf owns 20 golf courses in the U.S. and the private equity firm based in Fort Worth, Texas, believes International Golf Club in Bolton belongs at the top.
“This is the crown jewel of Escalante,” International general manager Steve Brennan said June 8 in an impromptu interview on the driving range. “That’s how they’re looking at this.”
Escalante Golf purchased the 36-hole International out of bankruptcy in late 2020 for $10 million. Brennan started as general manager on Feb. 8, 2021, and has worked hard with his staff to restore the International to its former glory, which history dates back to 1901.
Brennan, 55, already returned The Club at New Seabury in Mashpee to profitability after bankruptcy and he turned clubs in Tampa, Fla., and Richmond, Va., around financially as well. He had been serving as a consultant in golf course construction in recent years, but the North Andover native reached out to Escalante when he learned that the firm had bought the International.
Members lost dues and couples lost wedding deposits when the International declared bankruptcy two years ago. The current owners and staff had nothing to do with those financial losses, but they must work to rebuild the club’s reputation.
“We can’t deal with the past because we can’t change it,” Brennan said. “That’s how we have to look at it.”
Brennan believes the future of the International is bright. Bill Coore and two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw have been hired to build a new golf course in place of the Pines Course, once known as the world’s longest golf course at 8,325 yards.
In July, nine holes of the Pines will close so Coore & Crenshaw can begin construction of the new course. The second nine will close in the fall. The new Pines Course is scheduled to open in 2024.
Tripp Davis worked on the tees and bunkers on the Oaks Course, which on Labor Day weekend will host one of the eight LIV Golf Invitational Series events. https://www.livgolf.com/events/the-international-boston
“This is the Boston market with two golf courses,” he said. “Between what Coore & Crenshaw are going to do on the Pines Course and what Tripp did on the Oaks Course, we’ll put it against anybody. And it’s private. It’s for the member experience and those that love golf.”
Brennan said the International has 210 members, including 70 who had belonged to the club at the time of the bankruptcy in May of 2020. The club hopes to boost membership to about 600.
The clubhouse, encompassing the pro shop, dining room, locker rooms and administrative offices, has been renovated with new ceilings, paint, carpets, fixtures and furniture. The 54-room lodge has been converted into 15 suites for members and their guests.
After the Pines Course has been replaced by a new one, the clubhouse will be torn down and replaced as well.
The former clubhouse and banquet facility adjacent to the current clubhouse is no longer used and will eventually be torn down as well. So will the golf bag storage facility.
Escalante will eventually spend about $50 million on the International, including the $10 million purchase price, $10-$15 million on the redesign, reconstruction of the Pines Course, upgrading the Oaks Course and practice area and construction of golf cottages.
The International caters to golfers, not families. There will be no pool, tennis, pickleball, weddings or outside events. Just members and guests playing golf.
“Family golf is great,” Brennan said. “Don’t misconstrue that. But this is about golf.”
Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia are among the big names playing in the inaugural LIV event this week at the Centurion Club in Hertfordshire, England.
Mickelson has announced he plans to play in all eight LIV events so he’ll be at the International Labor Day weekend September 2-4. He’ll play in the U.S. Open next week at The Country Club in Brookline and he’s scheduled to speak to the media at 1 p.m. Monday June 13 at TCC.
Escalante also owns Pumpkin Ridge GC outside Portland, Oregon, which will host an LIV event June 30-July 2.