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Atkinson Resort Named 2015 Course of the Year
Author: Wayne Mills
March 16th 2015 - The National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) has named Atkinson Resort & Country Club in Atkinson, NH as its 2015 National Golf Course of the Year. The club was honored at the association’s recent Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas, held in conjunction with the Golf Industry Show. The honor was a first for a New Hampshire course, a state with less than 100 golf courses, and a first for any New England course.

As a result of being named the New England Golf Course of the Year and subsequently the Northeast Region winner, Atkinson Resort and Country Club was selected as a final four entry by the NGCOA. They ultimately prevailed over the other finalists- Currahee Club (Toccoa, GA), Haggin Oaks Golf Complex (Sacramento, CA), and The Legend at Shanty Creek Resorts (Bellaire, MI) a formidable group with well established reputations who have all garnered national awards previously.

“We had a lot of very strong entries again for course of the year,” said Mike Hughes, NGCOA’s Chief Executive Officer. “But when you step back and consider all factors, none were stronger than Atkinson Resort & Country Club.”
The NGCOA banquet was attended by Christine Lewis Morse, owner/president, Peter Doherty, Director of Golf, Kristin Perry, Controller and Jonathan Morse, son of Christine. Each of the finalists had a two and half minute video played prior to announcing the winner.

 “When we saw the other videos we thought little old NH doesn’t have a chance,” said Doherty. “We were up against courses designed by Tom Fazio and Arnold Palmer and 72 hole resorts.”

Not wanting to be caught flat footed by the off chance they would win Doherty wrote some notes in the hotel room but forgot to bring them down to the meeting. He didn’t bother to go back up to get them. He wished he did. “I wish I had a video of our faces when they announced we won,” he said. “I was furiously trying to remember what I wrote on the way to the podium.” What he did say was “We are very surprised and humbled by this award.”
The award is predicated on four factors:
  • Quality of golf course
  • Quality of ownership and management
  • Outstanding contributions to the local community
  • Significant contributions to the game of golf 
While Atkinson Resort and Country Club is clearly an outstanding golf facility, the family owned and operated club is run as a community resource as much as anything. Atkinson Resort and CC is deeply vested in the local community where each year, the club hosts a Christmas Tree Lighting with a wide variety of family-friendly activities. The 45-foot tall, live Christmas tree is donated, installed and decorated by the family business.

Continuing a tradition started by the late family patriarch Peter Lewis, the club hosts a tournament benefitting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Lawrence, Mass. each spring. The club donates the golf, the food and the facilities for the banquet. The entire proceeds go directly to support the Boys and Girls Club and to date have raised over $150,000.

A nearby high school enjoys unlimited practice and play opportunities at the club, including the services of one of Atkinson’s golf staff who serves as head coach. The club also supports local youth baseball and softball, offers educational scholarships to students, has an active player development initiative at five local elementary schools, and donates supplies and labor to periodically refurbish facilities at the local YMCA camp.

Located in the small, 250-year-old town of Atkinson in southeastern New Hampshire, the par-72, 18-hole public course rolls across 420 acres of field and forest. It opened with nine holes in 1996 with the back-nine completed two years later. A par-3 course opened in 2009 and quickly earned PGA Family Course designation.

Privately owned, the club is the crown jewel of the third-generation Lewis family’s business enterprise which includes local lumber and building-supply interests, home and apartment building, a private water company serving nearly half the town’s residents, and land development.

Atkinson Resort & Country Club has a premier practice facility featuring 15,000 square feet of grass tees, a 12,000 square-foot putting green, multiple bunkers, and a 65-yard short-game practice hole. Despite the sometimes harsh New England weather, golfers can hone their skills year-round. The club has heated hitting bays, a winterized driving range, and an indoor gaming room with four highly sophisticated, 3D golf simulators, offering 35 courses from which to select.

Its 75,000 square-foot clubhouse features two restaurants, 16 overnight guest rooms, and large, elegant function space to host weddings, special events and business meetings.

Doherty explained what winning the NGCOA’s Golf Course of the Year award means, “It is very gratifying for us to be recognized for everything we do here at Atkinson but going forward I think this puts us on the map of outstanding golf facilities in New England,” he explained. “We have somewhat struggled with the notion about our location. A lot of people were unaware of how close we are to Boston (45 minutes) and the fact that we are a public access golf course.”

Atkinson Resort and Country Club should get a great deal of well deserved recognition in the future. 

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