Reviving the Greens at Wiltwyck

An 85-year-old golf club is being rejuvenated by its own members.


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Wiltwyck Golf Club’s beautiful grounds and buildings were in danger of being sold for redevelopment until a group of investors — club members themselves — stepped up and bought the club.

Photos by Ralph G. Speer

 

Wiltwyck Golf Club, the Kingston facility that’s had its own birdies and bogeys over the past 85 years, is finding new life yet again, thanks to a member/investor group.

Formed in April 1933, the golf club began with a nine-hole course off Hurley Avenue. Twenty years later, construction of the NYS Thruway threatened to slice that course in half, but the resourceful Wiltwyck club took that as an opportunity to purchase the Steward Farm on Steward Lane in the Town of Ulster. In 1955, an 18-hole, par-72 course was unveiled at the new locale, designed by renowned golf course architect Robert Trent Jones. 

In its heyday during the IBM era, the popular club sported as many as 500 members who enjoyed not only world-class golf but also tennis, a restaurant, and a pool. Once Ulster’s IBM plant closed in the mid-1990s, though, membership declined — dwindling to around 200 in recent years.

Add in a heavy debt load, and upgrading or reinvesting in the facility had become difficult. By last fall, Wiltwyck’s future as a golf club seemed precarious.

Then in late November, a group of 11 investors, 10 of whom are dedicated Wiltwyck members, offered to buy the club. They named themselves “New WGC,” and on January 10, they took custodianship of Wiltwyck for an undisclosed amount. It will be governed by five managing members, including investors Bill Collins of Accord and Heidi Kirschner, executive director of the Kingston YMCA.

The facility is being infused with new life. “The new ownership team is committed to modernizing the facility,” the club’s new golf pro Luke Burbach says, “and to creating more amenities and facilities around what we have.”

Plans include a renovated bar and restaurant, a pro shop, a new locker area, and shoe services, in addition to the pool,  tennis and pickleball (a type of paddle tennis) courts, and a banquet facility. “We’re working to create a spot where people will want to hang out,” Burbach says.

Part of Wiltwyck’s reinvention is opening its formerly members-only club to the public, though there are plans to keep many benefits and amenities — including preferred tee times, locker room access, and free bag storage — strictly for members. www.wiltwyck.org.

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