FALMOUTH, Mass. -- It's not a new phrase, but the "country club for a day" certainly has a new meaning at The Cape Club by Troon, which is scheduled to open Aug. 3 on the Massachusetts Cape.
The club, which is two years in the making, bears little resemblance to its predecessor, the fully private Ballymeade Country Club, except that the new owners are looking to treat golfers at this new public facility like private club members.
Of course this phrase has been thrown around for years when it comes to high-end, daily-fee courses. But at most of those facilities, it simply meant a better-than-average course in good condition, an attended bag drop and someone to clean your clubs and put them on the bag rack at the end of the round. That's often when the "country-club-for-a-day" experience ended.
This isn't the plan at The Cape Club, where golfers will be encouraged to practice, eat lunch, play and stick around for drinks and watch the ballgame and/or eat dinner at the newly renovated clubhouse.
"The new Cape Club by Troon offers the quality of a private club, but it is open to the public," said Ryan Payne, director of golf at The Cape Club. "Together with Troon, we've created a first-class golf destination designed to enhance a member-for-the-day experience."
The plan for the new club is to eventually become the Cape Club Resort, which calls for 28 single-family homes and 80 golf villa and cottages where groups or individuals can spend the night, week or month. There will be no memberships.
Eventually, resort shuttle services will take overnight guests to area beaches located just three miles from the Cape Club Resort. Additional future amenities call for a resort pool with bar and food service overlooking the golf course, an open-air event pavilion overlooking the ninth and 18th holes, as well as a luxurious spa with fitness center and indoor pool facilities. The residential, cottage, spa and pool elements of the resort are currently in the permitting and planning stages.
But the biggest draw here is the golf course, one that's vastly improved from the old.
Wider fairways, better views
Ballymeade, which opened in 1987, was a high-end country club through much of its existence. But in recent years it had fallen upon hard times, and conditioning had gone downhill until the new owners took over a couple of years ago and shut it down for renovations.
But even before the old course's demise, it was always difficult, said Payne, who was a pro at Ballymeade before stepping into his current role.
"It was very narrow before," Payne said. "The landing areas were crowned, and there were lots of blind shots before. It's an all-around better golf course now. It's a much better golf course."
The only similarity between the old and new, it seems, is the routing. Close to a million cubic yards of earth were moved to reshape the course, provide elevated tees and open up the many blind spots that had been there before. Every hole is essentially new and by mid-summer, though it was still a few weeks from opening, the course already had a fairly mature look to it.
The new design and construction were spearheaded by Ron Despain, vice president of golf course development. With 18 new large contoured greens, wide contoured fairways that no longer drop off into the woods and stunning Augusta white-sand bunkers both in the fairways and around the greens, the course is imminently more playable and visual than before.
Perhaps the best vantage point comes on the ninth and 18th holes, where the two par 5s culminate around a large water feature. The resort's clubhouse sits high above both holes.
Additionally, the course got new drainage, a new irrigation system and cart paths created from white crushed stone to match the look of the Augusta white-sand bunkers.
The Cape Club's state-of-the-art practice facility
The Cape Club also has a new practice facility, adjacent to the clubhouse to integrate golf, dining and social activities to provide a unique entertainment experience for guests. Distance-tracking technology has also been integrated into the practice facility so golfers can accurately track ball speed and distance for each shot. Long-term plans for the practice facility include the construction of an upper deck with seating areas that allow guests to dine, practice, take in football or baseball games on flat screen televisions and socialize, all within steps of the practice tee.
The practice facility opened before the course, along with the new restaurant, the Cape Grille Steak & Seafood, which has been packed most of the summer. Under the direction of one of the Cape's most respected executive chefs, Tim Miller, the restaurant offers an eclectic selection of steaks, seafood and desserts, along with a full bar, TV screens and great views of the golf course.
Clubhouse enhancements included a complete renovation of fixtures, furnishings, marble tile accents, siding, windows, doors and more. The renovated clubhouse is home to more than 20,000 square feet of banquet space, groom and bridal suites, golf shop, meeting space and the Cape Grille Steak & Seafood.
As for the anticipation of the new course, the tee sheet for August was filling up nicely in July.
"There's a huge buzz," Payne said. "And the restaurant has been killing it."
The Cape Club, destined to become one of the best daily-fee golf courses in New England, is located five miles from the Bourne Bridge, the gateway to the Cape. It is less than an hour from Boston during light traffic.
For more information on The Cape Club, visit www.capeclubresort.com or call 508-540-4005.