Golf Course: Town seeking input on new name (Southborough Golf Club?) and moving ahead with funding articles

Above: The Golf Course Committee would like to see the new name for the property honor its roots as the Southborough Golf Course founded by philanthropist George Peabody Gardner (image left of portrait by AL Zorn in MFA’s collection from GCC’s materials; right posted to Facebook by Neil A Theriault)

The Board of Selectmen plan to vote on a new name for the St. Mark’s Golf Course at their February 27th meeting. Before that, the community is invited to send in their suggestions and thoughts.

Why the rush? The Town wants the name in place to allow management to work on marketing for the golf course.

Of course, marketing is a moot concept if there’s no operating golf course. Keeping the course open and running will depend on funding approval by Annual Town Meeting voters.

Both issues were covered in the Golf Course Committee’s presentation to selectmen last week.

The GCC recommended renaming the Town owned course as Southborough Golf Club. Members recounted its history as the original name for the course prior to St. Mark’s School’s purchase.

At selectmen’s request, they have posted historical background on the Town website for the public. That includes this rationale for the name choice:

George Peabody Gardner circa 1899 by AL Zorn in MFA from SGC materials posted by GCC
(click to enlarge)

By choosing “Southborough Golf Club” as the name, the Town connects the future of the course to its beginnings as a place open to all for recreation. Its modest beginnings and history, when [founder] G.P Gardner could have afforded to join or create a fully private country club, speaks to his philanthropy and modest spirit that we should emulate.

You can read more here.

Selectmen were mostly supportive of the choice. But they wanted more feedback before deciding.

Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf recommended allowing the public a chance to weigh in. (To do that, E-mail

Selectman Brian Shifrin wanted feedback from the president of the management company that will have to market the course.

In January, Shifrin shared that the St. Mark’s name had been a marketing challenge for management. People purportedly assumed it was for exclusive use by the school. Management had suggested the name Southborough Links. (At that time, GCC suggested Southborough Country Club, incorrectly referring to it as the original name. Selectmen worried that would also seem exclusive.)

Last week, the board opted to put the word out to the public, reach out to course management, and plan to decide at the end of this month. (No mention was made of a naming committee or the naming policy).*

In the discussion, GCC members also updated the board on Articles they hoped to bring to Town Meeting.

They explained that the Community Preservation Committee re-opened its application window for them. It had closed in September, but the CPC is giving them the chance to apply in time for this year’s ATM. (The presentation and vote were scheduled for last week but postponed to this Thursday evening, 7:00 pm at Cordaville Hall.)

They are applying for funding that covers the cost of redesigning and installing the areas of holes 1 & 9 impacted by the Public Safety Building. They hope to also cover parking and a retaining wall.

Members explained that there are another $200K in costs that can’t be covered by the CPC or the Public Safety Building project. Those are being brought to voters in a separate capital funding Article.

Selectmen were supportive of both Articles.

*The naming policy adopted by selectmen last summer was clearly geared to deal with naming facilities after people. But it didn’t restrict to that. Selectmen are entitled to revise that policy. (They may even have the authority to override their own policy without changing it – I’m not a lawyer.) I was just surprised there was no discussion about the policy, especially since the need to look at the policy was referred to in January and a copy was included in their packet last week and the meeting prior.

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