HARVARD -- Work is afoot to not only restore the Shaker Hills golf course, but to also push the clubhouse to a new lvel of splendor for weddings, functions and spectators.
Timothy Valas has been tapped to serve as general manager of the new Shaker Hills Country Club (formerly known as Shaker Hills Golf Club). Valas was approached on April 12, immediately after the course was purchased at foreclosure auction by his longtime friend, Princeton businessman Frederick "Skip" Curtis Jr.
It's been decided that the "Shaker Hills" portion of the prior name will remain in the title of the course in deference to the neighboring Shaker Village in Harvard and the course's own illustrious history. Shaker Hills was ranked number one golf course in New England by Golf Digest in 1992. A new logo is in the works.
Curtis' winning bid was $3.4 million, not including outstanding real-estate taxes and utility fees due and payable at closing to the town of Ayer (where the 13,000-square-foot clubhouse and maintenance buildings are located on 5.3 acres) and the town of Harvard (where the 18-hole golf course expands across 163 acres).
Valas and Curtis have been friends for 30 years. The two both attended St. John's High School in Shrewsbury and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The two are members of the Worcester Country Club and love the sport.
No figures were provided on the overhaul costs, but suffice it to say there has been much capital, time and labor, said Valas. The soft opening date for the club is Monday, Oct. 1.
The course, opened in 1992, was originally designed by golf course architect Brian Silva. But several areas have been refreshed by the new ownership.
The bar area and function areas will be totally overhauled for golfers, weddings and corporate events.
For the fall, gas-powered carts will be used. In the spring, a relocated electric-cart charging station will be in place for a new fleet of DC-powered golf carts.
Valas said Golf Magazine pegged the course as #1 in New England in 1992. "Our goal is to regain that position," said Valas. "We just want to send it back to its former glory" and cement the club as the best in Boston and beyond.
Membership and public fees are available online at shakerhills.com.
There is work to provide refreshments and sandwiches at the course this fall while the main kitchen is retooled. The course had full liquor licenses issued by Ayer for the clubhouse and the course by Harvard in prior years. Valas said they intend to apply for those again for next season.
For now, "come out for the fall foliage, come out for the cool weather," said Valas. "It's going to be a great place to enjoy a round of golf."