Pontoosuc Lake Country Club sold, but will golf return?

Former Pontoosuc Lake Country Club owner Jeff Moxon mows the course back in 2018. The course has been sold to a group that includes the CEO of Mill Town Capital, but it was unclear whether it would remain a golf course.

PITTSFIELD — Pontoosuc Lake Country Club has been purchased by a group that includes the CEO of Mill Town Capital of Pittsfield, but whether it will remain a golf course remains unclear.

Pittsfield Forests LLC purchased the 134-acre parcel off Kirkwood Drive this week for $895,000 from Pontoosuc Lake Country Club Inc., according to documents filed at the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds.

Neither the club's former owner, Jeff Moxon, nor Tim Burke, Mill Town's managing director and CEO, could be reached for comment on the plans for the site.

Moxon's family owned the venerable golf course since 1945, and been involved in its management since 1923, when Moxon's grandfather, Charles "Chick" Moxon, became the assistant pro.

Facing ongoing financial difficulties, Moxon sought to turn part of the property into a solar field last year, but that plan was shot down by the Conservation Commission amid concerns about the volume of trees being cut, the slope of the property and its proximity to wetlands..

He then reduced the course layout from 18 to nine holes and renamed it Black Rose Golf Club, but the course didn't open this year, according to longtime member Kevin O'Hara. The course still has all 18 holes, he said.

"It's just a gem," said O'Hara, Pontoosuc's reigning club champion. "It would be a loss for Pittsfield if it didn't reopen as a golf course."

Burke is one of three members of Pittsfield Forests LLC that are listed in papers filed with the Secretary of State's Office, but the limited liability company's address is listed in care of Rex Capital Advisers, a national financial advisory firm headquartered in Providence, R.I.

A. Max Kohlenberg of Rex Capital Advisers is also listed as a member of Pittsfield Forests LLC in papers filed with the state. According to U.S. News and World Report, Rex Capital has $948.4 million under management. It could not be determined if any of Rex Capital's funds are invested in golf courses.

Mill Town Capital is a private investment group co-founded by Burke in 2014 that has made investments in several Berkshire properties. In May, Mill Town purchased Bousquet Ski Area in Pittsfield for $1.07 million. In July, the group issued a comprehensive outdoor recreation plan for Berkshire County that it had compiled with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.

The original course was built on the site of a farm located on the west side of Pontoosuc Lake. In 1935, it was incorporated into Pontoosuc Lake Country Club.

The course was renovated in the 1930s with help from A.W. Tillinghast, who designed such notable golf courses as Bethpage Black, Baltusrol and Winged Foot, which have all hosted major professional golf championships. In 1939, work on the course was performed by Wayne Stiles, who had redesigned the original Taconic Golf Club course in Williamstown 12 years earlier.

The course also received national recognition during the 1930s for instituting $10 golf fees during the Depression.

"All the thrills without the frills is the watchword of what is without doubt the cheapest golf organization in the world," the New York Sun wrote at the time.

In 2013, Pontoosuc was one of 17 Berkshire County golf courses that were reviewed by Lihn's Golf & Lifestyle Guide.

"Unfortunately, while the greens have improved in recent years, the overall condition of the course isn't up to the standards of most of the county's other courses," Pontoosuc's reviewer wrote. "If more money was invested into upkeep, this course would rank higher on the list of the county's courses."

In an interview with The Eagle in 2018, Moxon said he hadn't read the review but didn't dispute what had been written.

"I've done what I could with the resources," he said at the time.

O'Hara compares the prospect of losing Pontoosuc with the loss of Pittsfield's historic railroad station, which was torn down as part of a 1968 urban renewal project, a decision that still rankles some longtime city residents.

"My great hope now is that they reopen it as a golf course," he said. "I wouldn't want it to be much else for that matter. If it goes, it's going to go the way of our historic train station. It's got that timeless quality like Fenway Park. Once it's gone, it's gone."

Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com or 413-281-2755.