Erik Sorensen’s Newbury Golf Center & Ice Cream arrives on the scene
By Bob Albright
Less than 24 hours removed from spending his entire life savings on a sprawling 27-acre undeveloped parcel of land, the look of satisfaction on Erik Sorensen’s face as he watched
the first load of gravel delivered to his new property was almost palpable.
“Now there’s a sight I’ve been waiting a long time to see,” said Sorensen, 40, in March as construction began on his planned golf instruction and ice cream center off Scotland Road in Newbury.
The first load of stone symbolically marked the end of a withering 15-month permitting process that saw the PGA golf professional from North Reading submit more than 3,000
documents to the town and attend 60 meetings, both public and private, to help make his ambitious plans for the Newbury Golf Center & Ice Cream become a reality.
“I’m living and breathing this and it’s exciting,” said Sorensen, who has traded shaping swing planes and impact positions for a life filled with blueprints and catch basin designs as he navigates his new role as general contractor. “It’s certainly been an education, but I’m really enjoying the process.”
Well, that may not be totally true. Along the way he has had to navigate around the nesting site of Eastern whip-poor-wills and assure one abutter some 450 yards away from his planned
320-yard driving range that the PGA Tour driving average is 289 yards and her windows were indeed safe.
The actual planning of the high-end golf center – which will feature no nets, a two-green short game area, a grass tee and 30 mats, including 10 that are covered, five target greens, a
year-round covered area, and a four-window ice cream stand featuring nearby Richardson’s Ice Cream – has been the fun part.
It’s a vision that has been percolating since Sorensen was on the Salem State golf team in the late ’90s and fine-tuned through an eventful teaching pro career that has seen him set up shop on such scenic practice tees as Myopia, Florida’s pristine Isleworth
CC (during Tiger Woods’ prime years at the club), and most
recently as the head professional at Vermont’s Dorset Field Club, among others.
“When I graduated college I wanted to do this, but I didn’t have the knowledge or the capital so it kind of got put on the back shelf,” said Sorensen, who through his connection with Lynn’s Tony Sessa will work his 20th Masters this April in Augusta, Georgia.
“I’ve seen the best of the best and I’ve seen what works, but
I also always knew I wanted to come back to the North Shore.”
The short game area and grass tees will be for members at the facility. Members will also receive free clinics and discounts in the pro shop. To give back to the town, Sorensen plans to donate a day of revenue annually toward a scholarship at Triton High School, along with letting the Triton golf team use the learning center free of charge. The public will be able to use the mats and sample all 27 flavors that Richardsons has to offer.
“We’ve got a flavor for each acre,” Sorensen said with a smile.
Adding ice cream to the mix was a no-brainer for Sorensen who grew up in the shadow of both the popular Richardson’s in Middleton and Sun ‘N Air in Danvers.
“Steve Jones at Sun ‘N Air has been great to bounce things off,” said Sorensen, who is also going to go through a full training session at Richardson’s.
The golf connections Sorensen has been cultivating ever since he was a teenager shagging golf balls on the range at Hillview GC in North Reading have all been invaluable in launching the project. Steve Murphy of Golf Facilities Management is going to help him construct his short game area and a former associate at Isleworth constructed the facility’s website. Sorensen hopes to have the ice cream stand and the mats up and running in June, just in time for the arrival of his wife, Sarah, and daughters, Grace, 6, and Ava, 3, who are relocating to the area after finishing out the school year.
Sorensen, who is the sole owner, feels both the concept and the location are poised to split the local fairways in an area that does not offer a basic diving range, let alone a state-of-the-art learning center, within a 15-mile radius.