About Merrimack Valley Golf Club

Donald Ross came to our country in the spring of 1899, Ross’s skills at both greens keeping and club making were what recommended him to his new employer, The Oakley Country Club in Watertown, MA.. Shortly thereafter, in 1906 during his tenure at Oakley he designed The Merrimack Valley Golf Club, Methuen, MA. In 1907 Eugene 'Skip' Wogan began as a caddie and shag-boy for Ross. They likely walked the course together during these early years of the club. This is a very interesting bit of early history of the club. "I started as a caddie and shag-boy at my local club," said Sargent. What a coincidence. "How fitting it is to have George Sargent involved with the restoration of MVGC," recalled Kevin Kattar, the current owner.

In 2004, George received the first call to come and visit the club. Major drainage problems on several holes were the key issues to resolve. The Ross feel and classic look was gone and time had deteriorated the course features. The greens lacked character, tees were worn out, and the bunkers were virtually nondescript. It was quite apparent that the course needed a major facelift.

Shortly thereafter G.F.Sargent Design firm was retained to perform a Master Plan Study. The study revealed many other problems and the solution to achieve all the goals for funding was to bring about a totally new layout, including a housing component. The new layout preserves the character of a “Ross design” while retaining only a few holes from the original design.

The new look of the MVGC routing is 6205 yards from the back tees. The unique par variety may initially puzzle the golfer’s mind set but do not get caught up in the numbers. "The course is fair, fun yet challenging but, most importantly, is playable. A true measure of a good golf course," said Sargent.

The new layout also dictated a new clubhouse with a new location. The views from the new clubhouse are spectacular. An amazing 14 of the 18 holes are now enjoyed from all decks and viewing areas of the clubhouse.

About the Project

The challenge was to eliminate all the problems at Merrimack Valley Golf Club, which included 40 feet of peat moss on six holes, greens that had sunken over the last 100 years along with no irrigation on the fairways. Blind shots, bunker deterioration, push-up greens to name a few were among the other challenges at hand.

The project objectives were unlimited in scope and quickly the master plan study was upgraded to a major restoration/renovation project. Along with that how to fund and operate the golf course during construction was foremost a concern. "What a daunting task," recalled Sargent. "We began the project on a parcel of land owned by the Kattar family in Salem, NH near the old 3rd and 4th holes. Developing new holes on this 12-acre parcel was definitely critical for the overall success of the project. The next step was to reroute the layout once the Salem NH holes had matured. This allowed construction to continue on the remaining holes over the next three years."

The landscape changed each month and again each year while the golfers played on. The members, guests and outing golfers saw a course transform right in front of their eyes. All construction was completed in 2009 and the course has been well received since.

"What a fun project," recalled Sargent "to restore and renovate one of Ross’s earlier designs. Studying under Philip Wogan, son of Eugene 'Skip' Wogan, I feel a special connection to MVGC. The lineage is direct and the results are a credit to the Merrimack Valley area and I am hopeful the enjoyment of the course will live on."