The Merrimack Valley Golf Club is About Family

The Merrimack Valley Golf Club, owned by the Kattar family, has been a landmark in Methuen, MA for more than 100 years. The “Gem of the Merrimack Valley” is a hot spot for golf, food, fun, and functions, but the Kattar’s are about more than mere socializing. They are about social conscience.

In 2015, construction was completed on a one-of-a-kind Veterans Memorial at the course, adjacent to the 17th hole. The memorial features an exquisitely designed stone wall and common area, benches, and majestic flags representing all branches of the military as well as POW-MIA. As with most things at Merrimack, the concept was all about family.

“My father (the late family patriarch George Kattar), other family members, and many friends are veterans,” explains course owner Kevin Kattar. “This is a place where people can walk by, sit, and never forget. It is about remembrance and being thankful for the sacrifices made by veterans.”

This breathtaking tribute and testimony to patriotism, bravery, and commitment sits at the highest point of the golf course and is illuminated at night. “You can see the flags from anywhere,” relates Kattar. “I have seen golfers stop at the memorial and get very emotional. Many veterans come by and salute these flags.”

The Merrimack course was originally designed by the legendary Donald Ross in 1906. Beginning in 2004, George Sargent, Jr. of GF Sargent Design based in Franklin, NH, began work on drainage issues and an eventual redesign at Merrimack.

Area courses with Sargent’s architectural imprint include Nashua, Point Sebago, Montcalm, Stonebridge, Salem, The Woodlands, and many others.

A longstanding member of the highly respected American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA), Sargent has worked in all facets of the golf industry in his 67 years, from caddying to course owner. He is also an Air Force veteran who served in Da Nang, Vietnam in 1969 and 1970.

“Kevin and his family asked me to pick a good spot for the memorial,” explains Sargent. “My vision immediately brought back memories of the guys I served with in Vietnam. We were just kids, and none of us were sure that we would make it through each day. We did not know if we would ever get home.”

Sargent has worked on over 20 courses in New England, but the Merrimack memorial holds a solemn place in his heart. “It really is a special and unique place on the golf course. It means just as much if not more than any honor I have ever received in golf architecture.”

Sargent’s father, a World War II veteran, helped set some of the stones in the wall surrounding the memorial, making the project even more personal.

Says Sargent, “The Kattar family has helped so many people here in the Merrimack Valley. They understand that freedom is not free and that veterans made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It is not only about those who serve, but about their families and loved ones as well.

“We are planning to do an annual golf tournament that benefits veterans and their families so that this memorial will have an ongoing purpose.”

The construction of the Veterans Memorial took over a year from concept to completion, but for Kevin Kattar and his family, it became more of a passion than a project.

He states, “It required a lot of planning. You could not just wing it. George’s eye for design was the key. It is such a beautiful and honorable spot. It has really become a quiet place to reflect in the middle of all the chaos of golf.

“You can go to a thousand courses and not see anything like this. This memorial will be here for perpetuity, and it makes me smile that it will be here forever. To me and my family, it’s all about heart.”

John Molori is an author and columnist for numerous publications. Like him on Facebook at John Molori, Twitter @MoloriMedia. Email molorimedia@gmail.com.