Join the Hilltop Golf Course Family and Continue a Wonderful Legacy
The game of golf made its first appearance in Peterborough in the summer of 1899.The Peterborough Transcript heralded the news in a front page article. This venture was championed by three prominent residents, two of them– Marion and Edward MacDowell. In 1896 Marion MacDowell bought the Hillcrest Farm as a summer residence for herself and her husband. In 1901 the golf course was created on a corner of the farm, and became a gathering place for a growing number of local and visiting golf enthusiasts.
The couple’s bigger plan for the farm was to create a special community where artists could work in a nurturing landscape. The world-renown MacDowell Colony was founded in 1907, and the MacDowells turned their energies to the artist colony.
By 1932 Marion MacDowell transferred ownership of the golf course to the Peterborough Country Club, with the proviso that it would always be used as a golf course. The new owners were required to build a club house on the property to replace the building that had burnt down. Mary Lyon Cheney Schofield provided funding for the club house and Robert P. Bass, who a few years later became Governor, was its first President. The dream of the founders was that this golf course would be “supported by the community, offer delightful recreation to those who play but also serve to widen the acquaintances among townspeople.” Their dream became a reality. The new club, among the earliest in New Hampshire, quickly became the center of activity and drew golfers from throughout the region.
Over the years, the trustees were not without challenges, which included an extensive fire, flooding, hurricanes, and droughts. The response of the club members and the community to these catastrophes was always spontaneous and inspiring. Raising money and getting volunteers to renovate and repair the greens and fairways was remarkably quick and effective.
In 2016, the golf course since renamed the Monadnock Country Club declared bankruptcy. Sadly, 116 years after it’s founding, the trustees announced that the golf club was closing for good. It was not their first brush with financial problems. Six years earlier, the board could not pay the bills.They sold the golf course to their neighbor, The MacDowell Colony. The new owners’ expressed their goal to protect the land from any parties that might be eyeing the land for development. However, The Colony is a nonprofit artist colony, and made it clear that could not and would not get into the golf business. The Monadnock Country Club was allowed to continue operating the golf course as a tenant.Unfortunately, the organization was unable to operate at a profit and closed in October 2016..
Disappointed and unwilling to see the course close, three enthusiastic golfers, Vickie Brock, Nadia MacStay and Paul Buffum stepped up just in time to reopen the course in 2017. The showed the same spirit as the original founders by championing the effort to preserve this community asset.The first step was to form an LLC and legally secure the course’s new name, Hilltop Golf Course. The second step was to negotiate and finalize the lease with the MacDowell Colony, which owns the property.
When asked why it is important to preserve this golf course, Nadia MacStay said, “There’s a lot of history and something special about this course. Revitalization will enable the residents in the greater Peterborough region to use the property not only for golf, but also for ongoing social, civic, cultural and educational needs for generations to come. It will remain an architectural landmark a short distance from the historic town center, a reminder of the past, and a symbol by which the town is identified. This historic gem belongs to all of us.”
More than 90 people stepped up and committed to buying a membership which made it financially feasible to move forward. The 2017 season was a success. At the end of the 2017 golf season, local resident and Hilltop Golf Course member, Annie Card, assumed ownership of the golf course with an eye to continueing the good work of her friends and fellow volunteers.