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Vineyard Golf Club

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The Rotary Club of Martha’s Vineyard and Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) announced they will stage the Vineyard Charity Golf Classic in late September to benefit Island charities and MVCS service programs.

The tournament is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 28, at the Vineyard Golf Club, the award-winning course in Edgartown that recently redesigned several of its holes, according to a press release.

For the past 10 years, the Rotary Club has helped stage an annual golf tournament that has raised more than $100,000 for various Island charities and scholarships. This year, Rotary asked MVCS to join the effort, said Rotary board member and golf tournament chairman Delos Lander.

“We believe Rotary and Martha’s Vineyard Community Services will provide an incredible day for golfers that will ultimately benefit a number of worthy programs across the Island,” Mr. Lander said.

“We’re delighted to join with the Rotary Club, which has a long history of service, to raise awareness and funds for so many worthy Island causes,” Victor Capoccia, president of the MVCS board of directors, said.

For more information, contact Delos Lander of Rotary at dlander@yourislandbank.com, or Amy Houghton of MVCS at ahoughton@mvcommunityservices.com.

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The charitable arm of the exclusive Edgartown club gives back richly.

The exclusive Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown features manicured greens and a beautiful clubhouse. — Photo by Laurence Lambrecht

The Vineyard Golf Club, an exclusive 18-hole golf club off Edgartown-West Tisbury Road, has quietly become a friend to the Island community in 13 years of operations, dispensing $1.8 million to Island nonprofits through the Vineyard Golf Club Foundation.

According to several recipients, the private club also has a knack for showing up for organizations with high demand for critical and important services, including reaching out to nonprofits and inviting applications for financial aid.

“They are rock stars, we love the VGC foundation,” an effervescent Diane Malcomson, development officer for Boston Medflight, said last week from her Boston office. Medflight transports 100 to 125 critically ill Island residents a year by helicopter to Boston hospitals each year. It makes about 300 flights from Nantucket annually.

Medflight recently received a $40,000 grant from VGC Foundation to help purchase a fixed wing aircraft for transport flights. “They have their finger on the pulse of Vineyard needs and they reached out to us,” she said. “We met in October, long after the summer season, and every one of the committee members were there for our presentation. You can tell they take their work seriously.”

Ms. Malcomson, a longtime summer visitor to the Island, said the VGC effort is critical to the life flight work. “We are a nonprofit and we are compensated for $6,000 of a life flight cost of $15,000,” she said. “We serve the sickest of the sick and we come when we are called without reference to ability to pay. Because we are Boston-based, people sometimes don’t recognize us as an Island nonprofit, so we’re grateful for VGC Foundation’s willingness to recognize us.”

“The fixed wing is a godsend because it is cheaper to operate and allows us to land in areas where a helicopter can’t,” she said. Medflight has received $87,000 in VGC donations over the past 8-10 years.

Pete Lambos, executive director of the busy Martha’s Vineyard Boys and Girls Club, lauded the VGC Foundation’s acuity in recognizing need. “They give us a $5,000 grant every year for operations, but last year they donated $35,000 to repair our leaking roof system,” he said. “I think they know what’s going on because a lot of members and trustees donate privately and are Island residents so they see our benefit to the community. They’re very good to us. We’re glad to have friends like that just down the road.”

A review of past and current VGC Foundation giving indicates an emphasis on healthcare, kids programs, conservation, public safety and housing needs.

The MV Arena received a $100,000 grant ($50,000 outright and $50,000 in matching funds) to repair its roof. “We invited them to come in and present,” said Scott Anderson, general manager of Vineyard Golf Club. “The ice arena is a staple of the community, particularly in winter. I see the benefit of the arena for my kids and for the whole community. We are lucky to live here and have that resource.”

Arena president Jim Kelleher said the board was pleased to receive such a generous donation from the Foundation. “It is clear that club members understand and appreciate the vital role that the arena plays in our community,” he said. “This gift, which really saved the facility, will allow for the rink to remain open and active for the next generation of Vineyarders. The arena is a fantastic resource for our community, and we look forward to the challenge of raising the necessary funds by September in order to receive the second portion of the matching grant from The Vineyard Golf Club Foundation.”

Habitat for Humanity, which helps residents build family housing, received a $10,000 grant this year to develop a thrift store platform, to receive, store and sell furniture and home goods.

“$1.8 million is a substantial sum,” Mr. Anderson said. “With 305 members, many of whom also donate personally to Island organizations, we’ve been able to build some reserves to devote to community projects.

“Now we have some traction. People know to come to us, and we have developed a straightforward online application process that generally takes 45 days from submission to delivering funds. The board wants the money back out in the community quickly.”

The VGC foundation website also notes that donations have been made to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and YMCA building funds in past years. Rounds of golf on the exclusive course are donated for auctions and fundraisers, and each September members relinquish the course to local organizations, including the Vineyard Nursing Association, The Rotary Club, and MV Ice Arena for their annual fund raising tournaments.

Application can be made online at www.vineyardgolf.com. Deadline for submissions is June 30 of each year, and additional grant cycles with invitations to present to the board are offered from time to time as donation funds are available.

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A round of golf in the summer can be pretty pricey but there are ways to lower the cost.

President Barack Obama, shown here on the first day of his 2013 vacation at Farm Neck Golf Course in Oak Bluffs, is among the many Island visitors who spend time on the links on Martha's Vineyard. — File photo by Nancy Lane/The Boston Herald

Affordable golf. On Martha’s Vineyard? In the summer? Actually, yeah. In fact, there’s even an inexpensive option.

Island golf courses appear to have constructed a fee schedule designed to maximize income during the season and still provide affordable in-season golf to a pretty passionate group of year-round Island golfers who hold a resident membership in one of the Island’s many clubs and visitors able to play at off-peak times. Affordable off-season and winter memberships are offered by Edgartown and by Mink Meadows. Off-season rates at Island courses are in line with off-Island courses.

One might think the five courses here would probe the outer limits of pricing as Island purveyors sometimes do. But that’s not the case with golf.

Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs and the Edgartown Golf Club have not raised prices in years, and while in-season midday rates are zesty, $160 at Farm Neck, reading the small print can get you on for just a few dollars more than nearby off-Island public courses charge in-season. Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown is a members-only club and doesn’t have public play or rates.

Courses in upscale communities such as Pembroke, Wayland, and Scituate feature greens fees with a cart in the $60-70 range for 18 holes. Pinehills in Plymouth, a top-quality course, gets $100-110 for 18 holes and a cart in season and charges about the same as Farm Neck and Edgartown for early and late day rounds. Mink Meadows is less expensive than Pinehills for off-peak tee times.

You can play Farm Neck early in the day for as little as $80, half its midday in-season rate. Edgartown plays all day for $70, though you need to play a round with a member before earning three additional rounds at that price without a member present. Mink Meadows in Tisbury offers 18 holes for $95, with a cart for $113, midday in-season, but you can play nine early for $35, or $46 with a cart. Play nine late in the day for $45, $56 with a cart at Mink.

“I think Island golf fees are reasonable,” Mark Hess, general manager at Edgartown Golf Club said this week. “Our rates have remained the same for about five years. And relative to resort areas, golf rates here are really reasonable. Go to Hilton Head [S.C.]: you’re looking at $150 or more easily. There are fair rates out there and you ought to be able to get on. The number of Island golf courses is sufficient to meet demand.”

Farm Neck is humming along nicely, head pro Don Costello said. “Our rates have been unchanged for three years,” he said. “Greens fees at other top-rated resorts are two or three times higher than ours. The number of rounds are up this season. Our pro shop does a good volume of business. We have top brands and we’re less expensive than the (golf) warehouses. We see it as a service for Island golfers for their clubs and equipment.”

But the hands-down most affordable, and probably the coolest golf experience you’ll ever have, is offered by The Ancient and Honorable Chappaquiddick Links (AHCL) on North Neck Road on Chappaquiddick.

This 105-year old course was built by and is maintained by descendants of the Marshall family which owns the property and attendant buildings. It’s nine holes, and a classic Chappy experience. Featuring two par 4s and seven par 3s, the 1,325 yard beauty wends its way along the Cape Poge Bay shoreline. The family maintains the rustic course as a matter of love.

“No, it’s not a moneymaker,” said Brad Woodger, who manages and maintains the course for the family. The AHCL, also known as the Island Ball Watchers Society, is real golf presented in a droll, understated Island way.

It’s a private club, which actually means pretty much anyone can play at a rate of $40 a round, though recognized Islanders often get a discount. There is still be an honor box for off-season golfers. Sir Reginald the Crow is the course mascot and logo-bearer and keeps an eye on all things golf. The Ancient and Honorable is reluctantly up for sale by the family. Golf course, main house, outbuildings and 18 acres for $12.5 million. No buyer yet.

Mr. Hess and Mr. Costello play Chappy and enjoy it. “It’s really a fun course and golf doesn’t come any more affordably,” Mr. Costello said.