Niskayuna

Mohawk Golf Club continues upgrades; housing may be proposed on site

Mohawk Golf Course's new patio overlooking the 18th green is seen in Niskayuna on Wednesday.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Mohawk Golf Course's new patio overlooking the 18th green is seen in Niskayuna on Wednesday.

NISKAYUNA — The Mohawk Golf Club is preparing another in the series of upgrades the country club has seen in the two years since a new owner took over: Construction of a 12,000-square-foot maintenance building.

Town officials recently approved the plans for the facility. The price tag is unknown since bids have not yet been sought for the project, but it could run in the $2 million range.

The club is also testing the waters on a concept that was first aired several years ago: building housing on a now-wooded parcel on the east edge of the club property.

The idea of selling off acreage to a developer never advanced beyond the conceptual stage, and when he bought the club in 2019, Michael Rutherford said he wasn’t going to pursue it.

The idea has resurfaced again, but is still only a concept in the early stages of study, said Bill Sweet, a longtime club member who is serving as a consultant on some of the projects underway.

He organized and led a meeting with club neighbors in October to gather their thoughts and said they offered positive and negative feedback. This is what he was hoping for, and it will help guide the process if it goes forward.

The improvements made at the Mohawk Golf Club since 2019 include a reconstructed swimming pool, a new cabana building for it, a new patio area surrounding the pool, repaved parking lot and extended/improved paved cart tracks. This last little detail has been important in the wet 2021 golf season, limiting the possibility of cart damage to the wet ground.

“We’ve had an inordinate amount of rain and our superintendent has had his hands full,” Sweet said.

Earlier this year, the club brought Mazzone Hospitality in to handle its outside banquet functions. The club continues to have its own chef for day-to-day operations, Sweet said, and has been busy with members holding their own functions on site.

The amount of activity could be due to the familiarity members have with the clubhouse and the comfort that provides amid a pandemic, Sweet said. But he doesn’t know how commercial event venues are doing in the area, so he can’t say for sure.

The changes have helped boost the club’s ranks to nearly 300 members, Sweet said.

There’s a simultaneous effort to retain the historic character of the golf course itself, which dates to 1903 and was designed by noted golf course architect Devereux Emmet.

“He did a fantastic job,” Sweet said. But trees are continually planted or removed and grass is mowed. An inch one way or a foot the other way every season can alter the layout over decades, and somebody always thinks some feature should be slightly longer or a little shorter.

Director of facilities Andy Eick works to prevent the course from changing through slow evolution, even as other parts of the campus are intentionally changed. Historic images and old aerial photos are among the tools used.

The housing development being discussed would abut the golf course, occupying a 12-acre triangle-shaped tract that is now wooded.

Rutherford earlier this year purchased the house at 1245 Ruffner Road — it was on the market and the lot could become a relatively level access road to the houses if they are built. The club already owns a strip of land fronting onto Ruffner Road, near the 14th tee box, but it’s steep enough that people go sledding there in the winter.

Neighbors who own property on Ruffner Road contiguous to the 12-acre site were invited to an Oct. 12 meeting to discuss the concept of building houses there.

Nothing has been decided, Sweet said — whether to build townhouses, condominiums, single-family houses, or nothing at all. Analysis of what’s possible, what the best use is, and what the profit margin would be must come first, along with projections of what’s ahead for the high-flying residential real estate market.

Also important is what’s best for the golf course, Sweet said, as these houses would front directly onto it, and what’s acceptable to the neighborhood.

And so the meeting was held for something that isn’t yet proposed and doesn’t have a timeline.

“We basically were trying to solicit input, which we got, some positive, some not,” Sweet said.

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