Northampton Country Club, and co-owners Jim and Chrissy Casagrande, selected as New England Golf Course Owners Association’s 2024 Golf Course of the Year
Published: 12-08-2023 3:52 PM
Modified: 12-08-2023 10:59 PM
If it feels like a family affair at Northampton Country Club, that’s because it is. And the power of that family was awarded a prestigious honor this week.
The New England Golf Course Owners Association (NEGCOA) awarded NCC, and co-owners Jim and Chrissy Casagrande, their 2024 Golf Course of the Year Award this week during the organization’s annual convention in Haverhill. The Casagrandes also just found out that NCC has been selected as the 2024 Jemsek National Course of the Year, and they’ll be recognized again in January at the NGCOA Golf Business Conference in Orlando.
“It’s pretty mind blowing,” said Jim Casagrande, who has been the head professional at NCC for 20 years. “I’m very humbled by the whole thing. It feels a little bit like a David and Goliath kind of thing, here’s little Northampton Country Club that gets put on the map here. We just keep trying to plug away here and do the best we can. I still haven’t fully processed everything here but it’s a huge honor.”
While Jim Casagrande has been NCC’s pro for two decades, the family took ownership of the club in the summer of 2016. Chrissy Casagrande said the club has been a considerable part of their lives over the past seven-plus years.
“Even though we’re a golf course, we’re still a small business,” she offered. “People think golf course and money, but in the end we are a small, family-owned business. We’re not the only ones out there, we’re like the other small businesses trying to make it work. So obviously, to be recognized like this is just great.”
Northampton Country Club has undergone some changes since the Casagrandes took over in 2016. In addition a few on the course improvements, as well as the addition of two golf indoor simulators, Jim Casagrande said there have been significant upgrades to the banquet facility as well as food and beverage.
“We’ve been very fortunate since we owned it that we’ve had some very good superintendents and they’ve done a wonderful job getting the golf course going in the right direction,” he explained. “There have been some special projects that we wanted to accomplish, and we’ve done them little by little. We don’t have a huge budget but it doesn’t cost you to work a little bit harder and get some projects done. I want to make this place the nine-hole cat’s meow, if you will, in the area… we want it to be a beautiful place, we want it to be inclusive, accessible to the public.
“Our wedding venue and catering has exploded,” he continued. “So we’re very pleased with where that’s all going, All of that, we’re fortunate because we have such a strong, loyal membership here. In the golf industry, you can’t just be a golf course, or at least we can’t just be a golf course. That mortgage keeps coming, we’ve got to keep that cash flow going as best as we can and we’re extremely fortunate that we have the support from our members and the community that we do.”
Jim and Chrissy’s daughter Anna Casagrande, who played collegiately at Southern New Hampshire and Bryant, submitted Northampton Country Club’s application for the award in a 20-page proposal that showcased the club’s merits. Jim and Chrissy said they weren’t aware that Anna was putting together the application until she was already a ways down the road.
“The memories from my childhood years bear witness to a landscape of camaraderie and dedication,” Anna Casagrande wrote to the NEGCOA. “Here, I stood witness to the tireless work of my parents, who continue to invest countless hours into this place. Their unwavering commitment knows no bounds, as they immerse themselves in the daily ins-and-outs, a testament to a passion that has been the greatest teaching of hard work in my life.”
The Casagrandes said they were overwhelmed by the response from the NEGCOA when receiving the award earlier this week.
“When they initially called to tell us we won the award, they basically said they were so impressed with what our daughter put together, our club sounds like a wonderful place,” Jim Casagrande recalled. “So we were just floored by that. Being self-employed and in this business, it’s a lot of hours, it’s a tough industry. [Anna] kind of grew up with it from Day 1. To have her put this together and nominate us, it puts a big lump in my throat.”
The Casagrandes will accept the Jemsek National Course of the Year Award, which “recognizes a golf course that epitomizes exceptional course quality and management excellence, makes important contributions to its communities and the game, and is a model of operations to its peers,” next month in Orlando. NCC was one of four regional winners (East Region) up for the national award, and was selected over fellow finalists A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort (Kewadin, Mich., Midwest Region), TPC Sugarloaf (Duluth, Ga., South Region) and Chambers Bay (University Place, Wash., West Region).
“It shows that with a little initiative, anything can happen,” Jim Casagrande said. “Everybody was so genuine in their warm responses to us. A few other courses came up and said, ‘wow, we got to apply for this, it’s just not for the big guys.’ So they made us feel on cloud nine… it feels like somebody was looking out for us out there.”