Keep Seggy Strong

Before Boston Strong came along, a similar mantra – Keep Seggy Strong – was established at a challenging private course on Route 44 on the Taunton/Rehoboth line.

Segregansett Country Club may be a bit off the beaten path, but that path leads to a facility with a significant historical presence that is looking to rejuvenate itself in the private club market.

Established in 1893, Segregansett CC predated the formation of the United States Golf Association by a year and was one of the Founding Clubs of the Massachusetts Golf Association. According to the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund, it is believed that Mr. Ouimet’s brother, Raymond, lived in this area of southeastern Mass. and was a member at Segregansett.

Rob BaxterToday, a member notices a lot of changes at Segregansett, especially on the watch of Rob Baxter, the new director of golf. For the 48-year-old Baxter, that means he’s a jack-of-all-trades, like troubleshooter and range ball retriever. Baxter has worked at numerous clubs in Rhode Island and southeastern Mass., including his first head professional position at Crestwood CC in Rehoboth from 1997-2008.

Now, he sometimes has to lock the pro shop in order to tend to business out on the course while leaving a record sheet on a table outside the door for members to sign in.

“I was once used to assistant professionals and a caddie master,” said Baxter. “Some things now are kind of new for a private club experience. Seggy is rebounding. The golf club has struggled for a couple of years, but clubs are being more innovative with memberships that suit a wide variety of people. The dynamics have changed. Clubs have to be a little more open and available for people to play.”

“I’ll put this layout against any in the area,” added Baxter. “This course has been around for over 100 years. It’s a little off the beaten path, but it’s as strong as there is around here.”

A clear indication of Segregansett’s strength is its list of upcoming events this summer. Highlights include hosting the final round of the Taunton City Open, which was concluding as this issue went to press, the popular Women’s Golf Association of Massachusetts Cris Eaton Foursomes on July 8, and a USGA Senior Amateur qualifier on August 7.

SeggieOne of the newer initiatives at Segregansett this year is a non-member league (35-40 players) that tees off every Wednesday between 3:30-5 p.m. There’s also a setup of new hybrid tees for senior golfers that are in play on holes 1, 4, 8, 9, and 15 in order to help seniors carry hazards and make things a little easier than playing from the standard tees. Reciprocals with other clubs are also a priority at Segregansett this year.

“It’s extra revenue,” said Baxter. “Private clubs wouldn’t even be open to that once before. Outside access is nice. However, you don’t want to devalue a membership, especially when people are looking at how much they are averaging per round at Seggy. Public golf will always do fine, but it’s a balancing act at a private club. Yet, we have to be more aggressive with outside play. We pick our spots because at what point does a member lose his benefit as a member?”

In the meantime, the golf course is in fantastic shape with highlight holes being the par-5, 521-yard second hole with a sharp dogleg left and water that could come into play if you drive it too far. No. 7 is another long, 529-yarder that climbs uphill at the end, followed by successive 400-plus yard holes for Nos. 8 and 9.

“No doubt, the front nine is a stern test,” said Baxter. No. 11 is short at 340 yards but a precise approach shot is needed to a severely-sloped and bunkered green. The two best par-3s (13 and 17) are on the back side with the 18th being a solid finishing hole.

Bob DiCesare is an award-winning golf writer for The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, MA and The Enterprise in Brockton, MA, both Gatehouse Media newspapers and a regular contributor to New England Golf Monthly.