HAMPDEN – The former Hampden Country Club, now a premier $45 million 18-hole championship golf course with a 26,000 square-foot country club called GreatHorse, is at work to open its doors tentatively for early August.
GreatHorse President Guy Antonacci told Reminder Publications the project has been in development for three and a half years. The Antonacci family, who has been in the horse breeding business for approximately 40 to 50 years, purchased the property in January 2012.
“We think that the horse business shows a lot of history and tradition that we have,” he added.
The interior of the clubhouse features more than a dozen paintings of horses throughout the building and GreatHorse’s logo bears an image of a horse as well, which is adorned in tables in the dining room of the country club.
What attracted Antonacci to the property was the mountainous view with a golf course that had “good bones,” he said.
The Hampden Country Club closed its doors and foreclosed in December 2011. Jerry Antonacci, Guy’s father, along with Jerry’s brother and business partner Frank, purchased the course at an auction on Jan. 10, 2012. The brothers also operate USA Hauling and Recycling in Enfield, CT.
Guy graduated from the University of Tampa in 2010 with a degree in entrepreneurship. The year after he graduated he tried to make it as a professional golfer.
“After about a year, I quickly realized that I was not nearly good enough,” he added. “I came back here and was anticipating going into the family business, into the garbage business, and six months later we ended up buying this place.”
Guy said he considers GreatHorse one of his lifelong dreams.
“This is about as big as a dream job as this gets for me,” he noted. “It’s been a lot of work and a long time coming.”
He added that the reaction to GreatHorse has been great from the town of Hampden and its residents.
“I think the town of Hampden really appreciates what we’re doing up here and I think they're excited to see what we can bring to the town and excited to see what the future holds up here,” Guy said.
The design for GreatHorse was spearheaded by Brian Silva, a foremost golf course architect in the country, according to a press release from GreatHorse.
An initial 44 bunker renovation later turned into a complete rebuilding of the course to include 186 bunkers throughout the course with United States Golf Association approved specked greens and tees, new grass on the fairways as well as Silva’s challenging course design that stretches out across 7,300 yards.
“We quickly realized what the property could potentially be, so it was at that point we were really going to make it a championship golf course,” Guy said.
The clubhouse features a 185 seat dining area, an adjacent horseshoe bar, a 10,000 foot al fresco terrace with an out door fire pit, a fitness center, spa room, two indoor golf simulators, and locker rooms equipped with saunas, steam rooms, and private lounges.
Adjacent to the clubhouse is an outdoor pool still under construction that will feature nine private cabanas, a children’s splash pad. Four paddle tennis courts and two tennis courts are also located nearby the club.
Guy said if GreatHorse has 120 to 130 members he would be “very happy.” The club currently has 113 members.
Head golf pro Billy Downs, who previously served as the golf pro for the Hampden Country Club for three years, said working for GreatHorse is “pretty much a dream job.”
In response to a question regarding if he thought the Hampden Country Club would ever be turned into a championship golf course, Downs added, “I’d be lying if I said, ‘Yes,’ way back when I was here before the Antonacci’s bought it. After the first couple months, you knew it was going to turn into a first class operation with all the amenities possible.”
For more information about GreatHorse visit www.facebook.com/GreathorseMA.
Anyone interested in becoming a member of GreatHorse can contact Membership Director Lana Packard by email at lana@GreatHorse.com or by phone at 566-8010.