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New owners to keep Hampden Country Club intact

Date: 1/23/2012

Jan. 23, 2012

By Chris Maza

HAMPDEN — Let the rumors end here – Hampden Country Club will remain a golf course.

That is the message new owner Jerry Antonacci gave Reminder Publications.

Antonacci, along with his brother and partner Frank, won the rights to the course, which closed its doors after foreclosure in December 2011, at an auction on Jan. 10. The brothers run USA Hauling and Recycling in Enfield, Conn.

Upon its closing and the announcement of the auction, there was speculation that whomever purchased the property would look to use the land for development. Antonacci, however, said running a country club is the plan, with his son, Guy, overseeing the day-to-day operation of the club.

“My son is an avid golfer who had once tried to play professionally and we’ve talked about running our own golf course for some time,” he said. “When we had the opportunity to buy [Hampden Country Club], we figured we’d give it a shot and we got it at a good price.”

Antonacci indicated that head golf pro Billy Downs would be returning, as would golf course superintendent David Rafferty.

With his lawyers currently working on closing the deal for the final sale, Antonacci said he plans to open the course as a private club on April 15, weather permitting.

“We have to close on it and I’m expecting that to take another week to 10 days, then we’re really going to get working at it,” he said.

Antonacci said he felt the course, with its panoramic view of the Pioneer Valley, has the potential to be a top-rated course and his family would be investing in its improvement.

“The course has the bones to be a very nice course,” he said. “It just needs some tender love and care. The superintendent’s budget the past few years is not where it’s supposed to be.”

The picturesque views, he believes, will also help the catering side of the business, which will also resume with Hampden House returning.

“The view is phenomenal and I think it sells itself with the catering,” he said. “We have a lot of the same staff, so the high quality of the catering will continue.”

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