According to the Wayne Stiles Society website, “Hooper Golf Club, featured on the cover of The Life and Work of Wayne Stiles came under threat as a result of a somewhat complicated situation involving terms of an old estate, the town’s and State Attorney General’s interpretations of an associated trust, and a lease renewal with the club. Fortunately, an agreement was worked out that will allow this nine-hole gem to continue challenging golfers.”
Basically, the townspeople of Walpole – who had been left 131 acres of land by Dr George Hooper back in the 1920s – paid the Monadnock Conservancy to purchase a conservation easement from the George L. Hooper Trust, ensuring that whoever buys the property in future cannot develop or subdivide the land. While future owners are limited in what they can use the land for, it was built into the easement that the property will continue as a golf course.
This all came about because the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, which is responsible for ensuring that charitable trusts are managing their affairs properly, had looked at the relatively small income derived from renting the course to the golf club, arguing that the land could be sold and the money reinvested in the educational programs that George Hooper wanted established when he originally made his land bequeath.
So now, for the time being at least, Hooper remains one of nine surviving New Hampshire tracks that Massachusetts-born architect Wayne Stiles constructed during a career that took off after he established his own golf and landscape architecture firm in 1915, designing more than 145 golf courses across sixteen states over the next forty-year period.
Architect Tom Doak is certainly an admirer of Hooper, affording it prominence in the Confidential Guide to Golf Courses book, volume 3 as one of his eighteen Gourmet Choice selections, one that he “would take a good friend to play.” In fact, if there was ever an 18-hole composite course composed of Hooper on the front nine and Donald Ross’s Whitinsville in Massachusetts on the back nine then he’d rate this as one of the top fifty courses in America.