Once an uber-exclusive private retreat for Boston’s wealthy golfers, The International Golf Club & Resort now welcomes the public to one of its two championship courses nestled among the apple orchards of Bolton, Mass.
As of May 1, non-members may book tee times on the Tom Fazio-designed Oaks Course.
“We don’t like to use the word, ‘public,’” Dan Weadock, The International’s president and chief executive, told us recently. “We prefer, ‘semi-public,’ which is really what the status of The Oaks is now. It’s still a member’s course with full-paying members having access to both courses on a preferred basis.”
Under the new scheme, the club’s Robert Trent Jones Sr./Geoffrey Cornish-designed Pines Course -- the older of the two 18-hole layouts and the one that boasts the legendary Tiger Tees -- will remain a private track, while outside golfers may book tee times on The Oaks.
With the economy continuing to take a toll on the golf industry, Weadock has long recognized that even the toniest of non-public enclaves must modify their operations if they hope to survive.
“We’re trying to redefine the private-course experience,” said Weadock, who acknowledged that not all members were happy with the new world order. “There was some push back, as there will be, but the vast majority [of members] are business people who understand the reality of the world.”
That reality is, change or die. Indeed, The International began its evolution when Weadock positioned the venue as a luxury resort destination by opening up both courses to visitors staying at its on-site 50-room lodge. The stay-and-play and other non-member business -- including a fitness center, spa, on-site TaylorMade Performance Center, Rick Smith Golf Academy, gourmet restaurant, and events like the upcoming James Montgomery Blues and Barbecue concert -- has been so successful that it was “cannibalizing some of the private-club experience,” Weadock said.
To retain the private nature of the club and still compete with daily-fee facilities like nearby Red Tail Golf Club, Pine Hills GC, and other high-end properties, Weadock determined that he had to offer one of the two courses as an alternative to his rivals. Even with early tee times reserved for members, and The Pines remaining off-limits to the public, Weadock believes there are sufficient rounds available to keep members happy and allow for outside play.
“We have plenty of capacity here,” he said, noting that The International’s business model was dynamic.
“The new definition is an inclusive approach,” according to Weadock. “It’s not about ‘I’m in, you’re out,’ but about providing high-level products and services for a price for discerning audience....We are all about change.”
As part of that change, The International has reconfigured its membership categories to include full golf affiliation ($7,500 annually for an individual/$8,000 for a family), weekend memberships ($2,800/$3,000), non-resident memberships ($3,000/$4,000), and several other tiers.
Non-members may call The International at 978-779-6910 or book online seven days in advance for tee times after 9 a.m. on weekdays and after 10 a.m. on weekends. Greens fees are $125 for a non-member and $100 for a member’s guest.