November 25, 2019 at 4:47pm
Join the Northbrook Park District in celebrating the legacy of Sportsman’s Country Club and learn more about the upcoming project to enhance the popular facility.
The Open House is set for Saturday, December 14 from 1-3pm at Sportsman’s Country Club, 3535 Dundee Road. The event features information about the planned renovation, a ‘closest to the pin’ competition in the indoor TrackMan® simulator, giveaways, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and soft drinks and a cash bar. The event also includes drawings for an Anetsberger 2020 Season Membership and a two-hour TrackMan simulator rental. Amazing end-of-season holiday sales will take place in the Golf Shop. Those interested in attending can RSVP by clicking here.
“People in the area who golf here frequently have made some great memories,” said John Billiter, PGA, Head Golf Professional for the District. “Sportsman’s has a rich history and our Open House is sure to inspire nostalgia.”
During the Open House, the community has a final chance to tour the facilities before renovations begin. The project, which is part of the Northbrook Park District’s 2018-2022: New Places to Play initiative, includes construction of a new clubhouse, improvements to the Classic 18 greens, East 9 irrigation, practice range enhancements and re-branding. Follow the progress of this project at nbparks.org or sportsmansgolf.com.
Greg Baron, PGA, Director of Golf Operations adds “I have accumulated so many terrific memories with our customers and staff throughout my 18 seasons at Sportsman’s. In many ways they are an extension of my family and for that I am so grateful. As we say goodbye to the clubhouse, my home away from home, I am sentimental but tremendously excited for the renovation that begins this winter. The new facilities will provide our golfers an enhanced experience and the improvements will appeal to the Northbrook community as well.”
Sportsman’s Country Club has long been a treasured amenity of Northbrook and an important piece of local history. The original Sportsman’s opened in 1931 and remained privately owned until the District took over the golf course in 1978. Residents rallied to save Sportsman’s as open space by circulating a petition for the Park District to take ownership of the property instead of a housing developer. Members of the grassroots committee Organization to Preserve the Environment of Northbrook (OPEN) worked to pass an $8.3 million referendum which assisted the Park District in purchasing 151.82 acres of property on August 11, 1978.
Longtime residents have fond memories of the bowling alley and chicken restaurant, Chicken in the Rough, that existed at what is now the cart barn, slated to be removed in 2020 as part of the upcoming improvements.
As Northbrook continued to grow in the 1980s, so did Sportsman’s Country Club. A miniature golf course and practice range were added in 1982 and a new clubhouse with food service and a pro shop opened in 1983. In 1987, the community again voted overwhelmingly to purchase Sportsman’s East 9 Course, which was being leased from School District 225, at a cost of $7.2 million. A total renovation of the East 9 was completed in June 1991.
In 1993, Sportsman’s adopted a trend that was happening at several Chicago area golf courses to create a haven for wildlife and native plants. Grass was left to grow in non-play areas, allowing for food and shelter for local wildlife. A dozen custom birdhouses were also added throughout the facility to attract bluebirds and purple martins. Sportsman’s became a member of the Audubon Society.
If you played golf at Sportsman’s in the late 1990s and early 2000s, there’s a good chance you enjoyed some off-season action at the NorDome—an air-supported dome that created an indoor driving range facility.
A devastating storm blew through Northbrook on May 18, 2000, damaging significant portions of Sportsman’s, including the practice range, and destroying 150 trees. The practice range reopened with a special event and much fanfare on April 28, 2001 and golf staff began the process of replacing trees, lost in the storm, later that year.
The new millennium also brought many changes and improvements to Sportsman’s. The Northbrook Golf Academy formed in 2001, and a Master Plan for Sportsman’s Country Club was created. The Master Plan, implemented in three phases, with the last completed in 2007, included a new maintenance building and bunker renovation.
Today, Sportsman’s Country Club remains a breathtaking recreation area that fulfills not only the District’s mission of environmental stewardship, but the vision of residents who had the foresight to preserve open space for the community. The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses has twice recognized Sportsman’s—in 2015 and 2018—as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Facilities that receive this honor must demonstrate maintenance of environmental quality in a variety of areas, including environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, outreach and education, chemical use reduction and safety, water conservation and water quality management.
Sportsman’s has received local and national praise for its Northbrook Golf Academy led by Michael Wenzel, a PGA Certified Teaching Professional and Director of Golf Instruction. He was named among the Best Young Teachers in America for 2018-2019 by Golf Digest. The Academy offers youth and adult instruction, summer camps and leagues. Winter golf instruction is available using the TrackMan simulator and golf pros also provide youth lessons at Greenbriar Gym, 1225 Greenbriar Lane, January through March.
The Northbrook Park District Board of Commissioners has allocated $12.5 million for the Sportsman’s Country Club project set to begin in early 2020 with a projected completion date of summer 2021. During the Sportsman’s closure, Northbrook Park District residents will be given resident discount rates at the following courses beginning spring 2020:
- Park District of Highland Park, Sunset Valley Golf Club
- Glenview Park District, Glenview Park Golf Club & Glenview Prairie Club
- Wheeling Park District, Traditions at Chevy Chase Golf Course