Cape Ann Golf Club, Essex, MA, is the only public course on Cape Ann today. The course is owned and operated by the Stavros Family, with its property conserved forever through Trustees of Reservations private land protection agreement.
Cape Ann Golf Club is located on a beautiful site overlooking the salt marsh along the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway (RT 133) in Essex, MA. In the 1920’s, business partners James Stavros and James Thanos, operated a dairy farm on the property which was destroyed when a lightening storm struck and set fire to their barn. The storm claimed their livestock, and the business was lost. Left with a wide stretch of land, Stavros and Thanos asked Eugene "Skip" Wogan (then golf pro at Essex Country Club and protégé of Donald Ross, pre-eminent course designer of the day) to create a golf course on the land. In 1931, James Stavros and James Thanos opened Cape Ann Golf Course at the height of the depression.
In the 1940's James Stavros bought James Thanos out of the business and moved operations forward with his family. James’ nephew, George Stavros Sr., joined the business in 1953. Two decades later, George took ownership and continued working there until 2014. During that time the family set the foundation to conserve the land, the game of golf and expand business through a series of improvements. In the 1980’s George constructed the clubhouse and began digging an irrigation pond off the side of the ninth fairway, to create a more sustainable watering system. In 1999, an irrigation system was put in place, bringing water from the pond to the grounds, enhancing conditions across the course.
Nature has always led the play on Cape Ann’s course with its unique ecosystem and weather patterns shaping conditions from one season to another. The natural beauty and coastal environment at Cape Ann Golf Club truly set it apart from all others. The course features nine holes, with a number of water holes overlooking the Essex River. The fourth hole dog leg left, that sits atop the hill is best known for the view, overlooking the Essex salt marshes, Essex River and backside of Crane Beach.
Throughout the years, Cape Ann Golf Club has greeted notable visitors, including the author, John Updike, who played the course from time to time. The late James Stavros was honored through character portrayal, as "Harry" in a story called “The Golf Course Proprietor” from Updike’s book, Golf Dreams. Updike mentions the course in his essay “This Crowded Life”, and “The Big Bad Boom”, another story from Golf Dreams, which describes the fourth and seventh holes at Cape Ann.
CAPE ANN GOLF Club TODAY
The Cape Ann Golf community has grown in membership since 1931. Today it is George's son Jim, his wife Norrie, sons, Jim and Tyler, and brother, John Stavros, who operate the business. In 2016 the club celebrated its 85th Anniversary and is poised to move ahead with a continued commitment to providing the best public golfing experience and value for players, with ongoing facility updates, thoughtful land conservation and professional association with USGA.
With each new season, Cape Ann Golf Club welcomes players who enjoy a fun and challenging round on a course with some of the most spectacular coastal views in New England. In addition to annual course updates, the club has completed a series of larger projects over the last few years. These include renovations to Fairway Pub restaurant and bar, which is open to public and non-golfing visitors, as well as course drainage improvements, renovations to the first hole and installation of a Pine Valley Waste Bunker between the fifth and sixth fairway (link to renovation photos). Course renovations have been completed under the direction of Jerry Deemer, who has worked on many prestigious golf course and athletic field construction projects, including Salem Country Club (in preparation of 2017 US Senior Open Championship) and renovations to historic Fenway Park in collaboration with Roger Bossard in 2005. Cape Ann Golf Club looks forward to many exciting games, tournaments and finding the next club champion on newly improved grounds of the most beautiful nine-hole public course on Boston’s North Shore. We hope you will join us for a round at Cape Ann Golf Club sometime soon! Follow these links to Cape Ann Golf News and our Calendar of Tournaments to learn more about membership and events.