BOLTON, Mass. – The story has been given a fresh look on The International.
It will be on display when the 121-year-old club opens its doors to the world of golf on Labor Day weekend. The International is prepared and ready to host an event on the LIV Golf Invitational series.
The International was owned by the Weadock family before falling into bankruptcy in 2020 after struggling during the pandemic and leaving members and customers frustrated with lost deposits for club fees and banquet bookings. Escalante Golf purchased the property from bankruptcy at the end of 2020 for $10 million, and general manager Steve Brennan and his team have focused on reviving The International with vigor.
“We feel really good about it, and we’re really excited to show it off,” Brennan said. “Getting to the point where it is now in 18 months has been a lot of fun to do. It has been fun building a team, recruiting members and embarking on the project of bringing these golf courses back to where they once were and beyond.
Brennan described her collaboration with Escalante Golf, as well as the town of Bolton, as a dream come true, especially with the LIV event scheduled for this weekend. When golf fans and players arrive at The International, the improvements and upgrades will be evident.
The plan to revitalize the golf courses and all facilities began last April and is ready for presentation. The renovation of the Oaks course began with the stripping of each tee box, followed by laser leveling and reseeding. The project lasted six months, and now it’s time to show it off.
“The first impression will be how perfect these tees are,” Brennan said. “Each tee is aligned with the center of the fairway. It is a pleasure to touch them. »
The fairways have firmed up
Speaking of fairways, they have been firmed up with clean lines and a very nice playing surface. Each bunker has been completely renovated, including drainage. Limestone sand has been installed, and while players will try to avoid the hazards, Brennan is happy with the revamp.
“They’re beautiful to look at and very aesthetically pleasing,” Brennan said. “They’re even better at playing.”
Defending British Open champion Cameron Smith is set to lead the group of golfers playing The International for the first time. They will feel like they are playing in the middle of a forest, which is one of its distinguishing features.
“The golf course will feel very opposite to them in the sense that every hole is very well framed with bunkers and trees,” Brennan said. “The players will really enjoy the experience. The greens are very good and very smooth. Visually, it is a very framed golf course.
Brennan and her team have also focused on updating aging facilities that were not maintained prior to the property’s bankruptcy. In fact, the staff filled 30 30-yard dumpsters during the renovation.
The club needed a massive facelift, so the team started with the existing clubhouse and golf shop. Ceilings, walls and floors have been redone and all new furnishings have been added throughout the property. The dining room and changing rooms have all been modernized, as well as the Lodge’s 15 suites.
“I just gave it a modern, fresh look,” Brennan said. “It has a very comfortable, warm, non-stuffy feel.”
Eventually, the building will be demolished and rebuilt.
Brennan had known the bones of the property for years, so Escalante Golf hired him to restore The International to its former glory. His plan to recreate one of New England’s finest private golf experiences comes to fruition.
The past remains on display with the many trophies and plaques on the walls, and Brennan hopes members and visitors will enjoy the history of The International, which opened in 1901.
“History is a big part of The International,” Brennan said. “We were lucky to have about 80 returning members who were here before. They took a leap of faith, joined us, and they were our greatest cheerleaders, so keeping that historical perspective was a big part of that.
Working with the community has been a positive experience, and The International believes in its local connections, including hiring local people and suppliers.
“It’s been a big part of the city for a very long time, and we’re fully aware of that,” Brennan said. “I remember it from its heyday, so when I came back to town we said we were here to make it right and bring it back to its former glory. It’s been great working with the city on the processes you need to follow. We made friends with the farmers in the area.
The LIV Golf series has been marred by protests due to LIV’s connection to its financial backer, the Saudi government and its Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. LIV Golf has been criticized for being funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and considering its attempts to wash away reported human rights abuses in the country.
While many opposed the LIV tournament coming to town, Bolton’s Mark Ayotte believes that without a successful and operational golf course at The International, events could have led to the construction of hundreds of homes on the property.
“It’s the best thing,” Ayotte said of the LIV tournament. “It’s saving this course, it’s preserving all this land and not transforming it into dwellings. (Bolton) is a great place to live with all that open space, and it saves us. There will be a lot of local benefits.
Escalante Golf has worked well with the town’s Conservation Trust, and the revenue from the LIV tournament will have a major benefit.
“Escalante Golf has been a great partner in trying to right the ship here,” Ayotte said.
Once the tournament and the crowds of fans are gone, Brennan wants everyone to leave with a positive experience.
“We want them to say, ‘Wow. What a great event. It’s not just a golf tournament, it’s an experience, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it,” said Brennan.
The fences are falling and the curtain is rising this weekend at The International.
“It’s history, and now we’re moving forward,” Brennan said. “We have a lot of forward momentum and we don’t plan on stopping.”
Contact Joe McDonald at JMcDonald2@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoeyMacHockey.