Fred Curtis, Jr is 49 years old and is married with six children residing in Harvard Mass. In 2006 he sold Curtis Industries, LLC, a designer and manufacturer of golf course related equipment including Curtis cabs and range enclosures for golf cars and utility vehicles. In 2012, he purchased 250 acres of land in Harvard Mass including the foreclosed Shaker Hills golf club. The course closed in 2012 for major course wide renovations including the new signature 18th hole and the adjoining clubhouse.
I was fortunate in my earlier career to be able to grow a small family business of a few employees into a much larger business of hundreds of employees and significant revenue. The eventual sale of that business and a desire to diversify with real estate — including a small business — Shaker Hills singlehandedly propelled me to enter the golf industry.
MATT WARD: What was the tipping point item that compelled you to purchase Shaker Hills a few years back?
FRED CURTIS, JR. The tipping point in purchasing Shaker Hills was the clarity of significantly improving the product through the vision of the 18th hole and clubhouse redesign.
MW: What’s been the reaction from golfers since you took over?
FC: The reaction of golfers has been overwhelmingly positive to the 2012 renovations. Although I do not run the course day to day, my family and I reside on the course and are avid golfers. This allows me to constantly interface with golfers. And, whereas my commitment to course improvement is forever, I realize the importance of the golfers input as vital so I go after it.
MW: Have any major changes been carried out on the golf course since assuming ownership?
FC: The 18th hole went from a straight par 4 of 440 yards to a sweeping par-5 dog-leg of 565 yards playing back to the clubhouse. There’s been full clubhouse renovations highlighted by a 100-person top deck with dramatic views of holes 1,9,10 and 18 — a new driving range and 19th hole practice area, new putting green, 30 new bunkers and 10 new tees. We’ve also provided for 5 fairway extensions and significant irrigation upgrades.
The vision of the 18th hole and clubhouse renovations fosters not only an incredible golf experience but directly creates a one of a kind environment for functions / events that needs to be seen to be believed. The outward 30 acres directly in front of the clubhouse is a naturally tilted hill that falls directly to the clubhouse. My renovations centered around the enhancement and leveraging of this natural beauty. Whether it’s a wedding / club championship or corporate outing. Whether it be the spectating of the golf or simply the natural manicured beauty from the clubhouse the overall areas is now undeniably unique.
MW: Many facilities are making a concerted effort in providing top tier customer service. How would you define customerservice and what value has it brought you?
FC: Service is tops in any business. At Shaker, our commitment here starts with the people. Our experienced GM — JoAnn Upham — leads seasoned professionals such as Andy Jordan — the head golf professional and Josh Noiles our Superintendent. Andy’s background is strong on service coming exclusively from a private course background. Josh is also super detailed and very communicative with our patrons.
FC: Business is excellent at Shaker Hills with rounds and functions way up year over year since opening. Roughly 3 out of 10 of our golfers are new patrons — having never played the course previously. We see a robust market with no reservations.
MW: What steps are you taking to get more people to both come to Shaker Hills and take up golf as a leisure activity?
FC: Our never ending commitment to course improvement and achieving the wow factor continues to support incremental growth at Shaker Hills. Also, we continue to strategically simplify the golf course to attract new players.
MW: You could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be?
FC: Simplify the game.
MW: Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
FC: Find something that you’re passionate about and go after it with your heart — advice I received from my dad — Fred Curtis, Sr.
MW: You wake up each day — what drives your passion to excel?
FC: I’m driven by a clarity of vision that energizes me towards a better place.