Photos courtesy of Susan Seymour
In May of 1921, Mr. and Mrs. Will Davis purchased farmland from the Dillingham family on Blush Hill and soon after built a golf course and an archery golf course (similar to golf but with bows and arrows instead of clubs and balls, and wickets instead of holes). The Davis Family-owned The Waterbury Inn (later destroyed by fire in 1935) was located on the corner of Main Street and Park Row in Waterbury Village. Summer guests of the inn would arrive by train from cities to the south and Canada to the north to enjoy the recreational amenities on Blush Hill.
On May 21, 1941, the corporation of Blush Hill Country Club was formed by a group of local golfers led by Max Ayers. Shares (voting only) of the corporation were sold for $25.00 each. On June 6, 1941, Blush Hill Country Club purchased the golf course and land for $1,000 from Mr. & Mrs. Davis.
In the summer of 1956, a new clubhouse was built, where it stands today, by a group of volunteers enlisted by Dr. Robert Kennedy and under the supervision of Ernest Metayer. What remains of the original clubhouse is the fireplace that stands in the gardens located by the 9th tee. The private home that is in the middle of the course has had three owners after being sold by the Davis family separately from the golf course. The owners were Rob Carpenter, Frank and Meta Reschke, and currently Don and Shannon Linde.
From the 60s through the 90s Blush Hill Country Club enjoyed the popularity of golf and at one point had 300 members, with a waiting list. For many of those years, Blush Hill operated under the direction of a PGA golf professional and held tournaments and social events throughout the summer months. During those years, it was often said by Waterbury locals that Blush Hill was as much a social club as it was a golf course. All the while, Blush Hill was still governed by the stockholders and much of its success was attributable to the volunteer spirit of the membership.
Things started to change in the golf industry in the early 2000s. Memberships in golf courses were declining and golf courses were struggling to stay viable with many closings. Blush Hill Country Club was not immune to this decline. Membership declined, as did daily rounds of golf. Several strategies were employed to keep sustaining the course. The stockholders decided they could no longer justify a PGA professional on the payroll and instead began to hire club managers. Beginning in 2003 and continuing to this day, an annual Calcutta Fundraiser is held each year. Lifetime memberships were sold beginning in 2005 for $5,000 each and later they were $10,000 each. Ten members, to date, have stepped forward to purchase a membership for themselves and family members. In 2011, the land on the corner of Blush Hill Road and Lonesome Trail that had previously been used as a driving range was subdivided into two building lots and sold for family homes.
During these years the number of tournaments and club events declined. The once-popular Robert Kennedy Member Guest and the Fall Classic tournaments were no longer held due to lack of participation. The board of directors and stockholders knew that the success of Blush Hill in the years to come would also depend on utilizing the clubhouse for non-club events. With advertising along with word of mouth, the banquet hall became a form of revenue. Events such as weddings, birthday parties, bridal and baby showers, rehearsal dinners, memorial gatherings, corporate events, and Waterbury and Harwood Union High Schools’ reunions began to fill in the summer calendar.
The weather has also had an effect on Blush Hill over the years. In April of 2011, there was a storm that caused damage to the course. Then August’s Tropical Storm devastated parts of downtown Waterbury and impacted Blush Hill Country Club again. The torrential rains of both storms washed-out cart paths, sand traps, and property roads. The employees and members worked hard to get the course back up and running as soon as possible following both storms.
2020 brought Covid-19. With statewide restrictions, the summer started slowly for golf in Vermont. Once golf courses were opened in the summer of 2020 it was with many restrictions. Inside facilities could not safely open and thus, all events scheduled for the clubhouse were canceled. However, as the summer proceeded the weather was favorable and the grounds crew kept the course in amazing shape; daily greens fees and cart rentals were up substantially from 2019. This was the silver lining to Covid-19. Golf was something people could enjoy safely, and it brought many new faces to Blush Hill. It also helped us think outside the box, with live music outside on Friday evenings. Additionally, we saw something we haven't seen in years...families playing golf together, with children learning the game.
In the years to come, undoubtedly there will be more challenges ahead for Blush Hill. Our goal is to continue to make improvements to the course, replace some of the aging equipment, and update some of the facilities. Most of all, we hope to bring more of our community to Blush Hill to share in the golf experience, to enjoy our gorgeous location with the nicest views in town, and to ensure it is here for future generations.