Six years ago, Blake Crocitto was playing his first round of golf with William Ahl at McGregor Links Country Club.
The sky was overcast and the weather wasn’t great, but the golf was incredible. Crocitto, who had just picked up the sport, found himself an immediate enthusiast.
“I fell in love with the course,” he recalled Wednesday. “I fell in love with the game.”
Crocitto quickly joined Ahl, who owns a home on the 18-hole course, as a full-time member of the semiprivate club. Then last week, the two friends went a step farther — they bought the 114-acre property.
On Dec. 29, they closed on a deal to purchase the course, clubhouse, pool and tennis courts from the Dennis and Arakelian families for $2.25 million. The sale was brokered by Roohan Realty with help from the Adirondack Trust Co.
Crocitto said the property wasn’t technically on the market, but said Tom Roohan of Roohan Realty saw the duo as a good fit to operate the course. Now the partners plan to both modernize the course and honor the legacy of Michael Dennis, the prominent Wilton developer who owned the course for nearly 45 years until his death from Alzheimer’s disease last month.
Crocitto will take over as general manager of the 443-member club and golf course. Ahl, a 16-year member of the club, is expected to handle much of the course maintenance.
The new owners are bringing in Druthers Brewing Co. of neighboring Saratoga Springs to take over the club’s restaurant by April. The popular Broadway brewer is also expected to bring a test kitchen to the course, which will allow patrons to sample some of the new flavors being developed by the business.
“We are working on adding a Pilot Brewery to the facilities to serve as a test kitchen for new beer styles and will serve a full menu — very similar to the menu at our Broadway location, but with twists and variations that are left up to the chef in charge,” Druthers owner Chris Martell said in an email.
The partners are also planning to install air conditioning and heating in the main clubhouse, allowing the business to operate year-round. Previously, most of McGregor Links closed for the season in November and remained shuttered until spring.
In addition, Crocitto said they want to install a golf simulator in the main building that will be available year-round. They’re also working on a partnership with MyGolfSpy.com, an online testing company that would allow golfers to try top-of-the-line equipment before it hits the market.
But aside from the immediate changes, Crocitto wants to keep most of the McGregor experience the same. He said the course is among the most challenging in the Northeast and is respected by many area golfers.
“We’re really excited for this opportunity,” he said.
Built in 1921, the course was designed by Devereux Emmet, who also designed the Mohawk Club course in Schenectady, the Edison Club in Rexford and Congressional Country Club near Washington, D.C. The property was purchased by the Dennis family in 1970 and came to host state amateur championship tournaments in addition to qualifying rounds for the United States Open.
During his ownership, Dennis developed hundreds of single-family and multifamily homes near and around McGregor Links. As part of those developments, the golf course was offered as protected green space.
“Our goal is to keep his name alive with the course and his legacy alive as well,” Crocitto said.