MASHPEE, Mass. – Willowbend is one of Cape Cod’s and New England’s premier communities since 1994. The 440 acres, situated just over the Bourne Bridge alongside Shoestring Bay, provide for a luxurious lifestyle and contain single family dwellings, townhomes, villas, lots for custom homes, and guest villas.
The centerpieces of the private community, with four of the five neighborhoods gated, are the 27-hole championship golf course, the tennis stadium and eight Har-Tru courts with adjoining basketball courts, the fitness facility and spa complex, the Olympic-sized swimming pool and cabanas, and the spacious 46,000-square-foot clubhouse, which hosts functions for up to 300 people.
The value and attractiveness of Willowbend have earned it a spot in Travel and Leisure’s “Top 100 Communities in America.”
Willowbend’s rise to prominence started slowly in 1987 when Willowbend Country Club opened its 18 holes for business but soon went bankrupt. Paul Fireman, founder and CEO of Reebok International and Brockton-native, bought the golf course at auction in 1991, and David Southworth, a hotelier turned real estate developer, became Fireman’s partner and the club’s first General Manager.
Southworth’s first act was to complete the clubhouse and then, in 1992, he and Fireman publicized the venue with the Willowbend Children’s Charity Pro-Am, which for 14 years attracted PGA TOUR pros like Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Gary Player, Tom Watson and John Daly and was one of New England’s most popular events. In 2003, Southworth oversaw the construction of The Bay Course, a new nine holes, which complemented The Bog and The Bend.
The 27 holes are always immaculately groomed, and the bentgrass greens, usually Stimping between 10-10.5, are some of the best in New England. The nines, which have surprising elevation from tees and greens, wend their ways through the scenic Cape Cod countryside: towering hardwoods and pines, working cranberry bogs, innumerable water hazards, ubiquitous marshland, and natural land slopes. The six sets of tees can appease every golfer’s power supply, and a number of forced carries helps determine which set is best for each skill level.
Willowbend fits the phrase “sneaky hard but fair.”
Southworth also completed the tennis, pool, and fitness centers, and, in 1994, initiated the Grand Champions Over-35 Tour, with legends like Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors taking center court. Finally, with all the amenities in place in 1994, Southworth opened up the real estate for lot sales and home building. For the next 10 years the Fireman-Southworth vision turned the original 18-hole golf course into a thriving, exclusive community with world-class amenities.
Southworth parted ways from Fireman in 2004 to form Southworth Development LLC, and in the ensuing years, his company has developed more than $2 billion in golf and hospitality projects. When Fireman at age 68 told Southworth in the spring of 2011 that he wanted to slow things down, Southworth and his business partner Joe Deitch bought Willowbend CC for about $12 million. As he had first done 20 years before, Southworth revitalized the amenities and renovated major areas of the campus. He also discarded “Country Club” from the name because he wanted Willowbend to be thought of as much more than just a golf course property.
Southworth’s directive has been to make Willowbend a family-friendly club that offers events and activities for children and adults alike. Additionally, Southworth, who never wears a tie, wants Willowbend to foster a casual, laid back atmosphere—“Cape Cod casual”—because so many members and residents have crossed the bridge to unwind and relax with their families. His Executive Chef ensures the excellence of the clubhouse fare in The Grille Room, and Willowbend also has two other informal dining spots, Café Amici and The Scoop.
Families at Willowbend unwind and relax in elegant surroundings—the hallmark of a Southworth Development. David Southworth is a leader in the luxury golf and hospitality industry with the standards he sets for service, design, and amenities.
Southworth Development owns five other premier properties at the moment: Renaissance north of Boston in Haverhill, Machrihanish Dunes in Scotland, Creighton Farms in Virginia, The Abaco Club in The Bahamas, and Meredith Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire (the only one without golf).