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Sacred Heart Purchases 150 Acres in Milford for $6 Million

Golf course, country club will pave the way for new academic programs, says Petillo

Great River Golf Course

Sacred Heart University has purchased 150 acres along the Housatonic River in Milford, which includes the 18-hole Great River Golf Course and a 32,000-square-foot clubhouse. The parcel, for which SHU paid $6 million, is only a 15-minute drive from the University’s main campus.

“With this purchase of land, we have an unprecedented opportunity to more than double the University’s acreage,” said Michael Kinney, senior vice president for Finance & Administration at SHU. “I want to emphasize that no tuition dollars will be used to make this purchase. Rather it is a strategic decision for the long-term benefit of the University and, as a purchase from our investment portfolio, will allow for further diversification. In addition, the cost per acre makes this one of the most value-added purchases the University has made to date.”

“This investment is not only an investment in a golf course, but an investment in our core business,” said SHU President John J. Petillo. “Ownership of the course will allow us to develop new academic programs in the areas of golf management and hospitality management and will complement our current programs in exercise science, sports communications and sports management.

“A golf management program — for which we will seek PGA approval — would be the only one in metropolitan New York and New England, one of the most saturated areas on Earth for golf courses,” Petillo continued. “We also expect it will provide opportunities for vital, hands-on work experience and internships for students, and we hope to host national golf camps and regional and national NCAA championships there.

“This is a game-changing opportunity for us that we strongly believe will better the university and improve its long-term viability and opportunity for growth and prosperity.”

With this purchase, SHU will join more than 80 other colleges that own golf courses, observed Bobby Valentine, SHU’s executive director of Intercollegiate Athletics. “We believe this will help us sustain what has already become an elite golf program that has been number one in New England and has won three conference championships and participated in three Division I NCAA tournaments since 2007,” Valentine said. “It will also help us to recruit and retain the best student-athletes.”

Just 11 miles away in Milford-Orange, Great River is a signature PGA facility that has ranked fourth-best in Connecticut.

Great River’s members can expect, at a minimum, the same excellent services and amenities on the course, in the clubhouse and at the restaurant that they have always received. “We believe this will only be the starting point for many enhancements that are to come,” Kinney noted. “There is no doubt that Great River will continue to thrive through a stable partnership with a major University, and our mutual values of excellence, service and high quality will remain a top priority.”

Already, Great River is scheduled to host a major SHU event: the 2016 Pioneer Open golf tournament — one of Sacred Heart University’s premier fundraising events. It will take place Monday, June 6, and proceeds will support university scholarship programs.