About

The Kazanjian history began when a family immigrated to America in the late 1800s from Armenia. The family found their way in this country through the tough days of the Depression and World War II, to a better time where sheer perseverance, foresight and determination have led to the present Whirlaway Golf Center. Now into its' fourth generation of family involvement, you will always find Mark Kazanjian in the Whirlaway Golf Pro Shop.

The tale begins with Mark’s grandmother Rose, the matriarch of the Kazanjian clan and the six Kazanjian boys: George, Arthur, Victor, Joe ("Saco"), Menas (Casey) and Khacho (Harold). Back in the 1920s, there was a 9-hole golf course carved out of a potato farm called Loch Haven that Mark's father, Joe (Saco) worked at as a 12 year old, and Saco's older brother, George, ran as the head pro. With the shadow of the 1929 Wall Street crash hanging over the country, Loch Haven was a victim of the economic times and went bankrupt.

In 1931, risk-taking Rose, unbeknownst to anyone, decided to mortgage the family house and purchase a 10-acre tract of the old golf course. According to Mark, "My grandfather wanted to kill my grandmother over this one. But it was in keeping with her character. If she lived today she would probably own half of Methuen!"

Carving out the range from three of the old golf holes, George managed the place and Saco worked when free time from school would allow. George ran the place for two years, but left to get a real job. There just was really no business back then. In 1934, Sacco left school in the 10th grade and took over the place. He built a teeline that was basically clay, and I bought 500 golf balls at 2¢ apiece. They named it Riverside Golf Center after the Merrimack River, which flowed across the dirt road.

The only people who played golf back then were the doctors and lawyers in town. A basket of balls for 25¢ and to pick up a little tip they would help tee up the ball on those old-style 'carrot' tees. Sacco always could remember several of the best customers because they really helped our family. For example, Dr. Hoffman, a distinguished older gentleman, was like a godfather to them. He would hit balls here and the Kazanjian family would barter medical check-ups. Dr. Bersil, a dentist, did the same for dental work, and Mr. Rosenberg, a lawyer, did the same for legal work."

During WWII, four out of the six brothers saw battle, and Riverside Golf Center was closed. Saco was in the Engineer Corps in the China, Burma, India theater. Against all odds, every brother returned back to the U.S. after the war, and the place reopened in 1947 with a twist. The Town of Methuen would give a seasonal liquor license to that family with the most sons who fought in the war. With the brothers all pitching in, the family built a 40 ft. by 30 ft. lounge next door to the 20 ft. by 10 ft. kerosene-heated "shack" that served as the office for the range.

The Lounge was named the Whirlaway Café named after their favorite horse the 1941 Triple Crown winner. In 1967 the family decided to move the range operation into the lounge building.

In the 1970’s golf started to pick up a bit and then in 1972 Saco’s son Mark then on the High School golf team took a ride to the Wilson Golf Factory in Newton, MA. There he purchased gloves, hat’s, balls and Sam Snead Blue Ridge starter sets and began to sell them at retail. It was at this time the Kazanjian family changed the name from Riverside to Whirlaway Golf Range & Pro shop.

Mark’s golf career looked promising, he was accepted to a first year PGM program at Ferris State College in Michigan in 1975 but decided to stay and attend UMass Lowell. At UMass Lowell he played on the golf team and competed in the NCAA Golf Tournament in Columbus OH in 1977. His golf passion seemed to imitate the growing national interest in golf. Mini tours sprung up like the Grand National Professional Golf Tour that had planned an 18 city tour to compete with the PGA tour. Mark earned his way on by qualifying during a 4 day events at the Troopicana GC in Las Vegas.  He was ready to go out on tour until the sponsors pulled the plug in 1980. Mark decided it was time to focus exclusively on the family business.

After several small expansions on the original lounge building from 1980 – 1987 Mark and his family decided to put up a $1.2M dollar two story 16,000 sq ft building. During this construction a concrete and steel two story driving range was built with new covered and heated tee’s. Grandmother Rose would have difficulty recognizing this place, but without her intuition Whirlaway Golf would not have existed.

What started as a 200 sq. ft. experiment in 1972 turned into a 5,000 sq. ft. pro shop filled with golf inventory. Over the years Mark has sold thousands of clubs, taught thousands of people, young and old, along with helping people to understand the game of golf.

The fourth generation comes in with Mark’s children, Marko and Laurel who have worked in the shop since they were 10 years old. Even today when they walk into Whirlaway Golf their instinct is to help customers with their golf needs. They too, like their Grandfather Saco and Father Mark have a passion for the game of golf.