McHenry Country Club: Birthplace of the Metalwood


1st Hole – McHenry Country Club

Founded in 1922 and situated on the edge of a docking canal portion of the Fox River, there is quite figuratively a “boatload” of golf history that exists at McHenry Country Club.

Today’s par-71 layout of McHenry Country Club began as a 9-hole course that opened in 1922. Al Purvey, the first superintendent at the course, along with Harry Hall King are acknowledged to be the original architects. Just before 1926, again under the direction of Al Purvey, another nine holes were added.

During 1953 some holes were lengthened and trees planted, but MCC’s parkland-style layout with the perimeter routing for the first nine and an interior routing for the second nine has remained virtually the same over the past eight decades, with only slight adjustments made a few years ago by local modification-architect David Esler. An uncommon feature of MCC’s routing is that both nines finish with a par-3 hole; furthermore, golfers will not encounter a par-3 on the front nine until hole #8, making that nine’s finish a totally unique conclusion.

Just as the course itself expanded, so too did the building(s) that serve as MCC’s clubhouse. It took three men just one day to build the first MCC clubhouse — a 14-foot by 30-foot wooden structure that contained a lunch counter and restrooms. With the 1926 addition of nine more golf holes came the need to expand the tiny clubhouse, so more room for lockers was added. The current clubhouse was built in 1953 with major and minor renovations in 1970, 1988, and 2003; throughout its sixty-three year existence the clubhouse has been carefully cleaned and maintained so as to attain 21st century appeal and functionality.

Three generations of a single family have made a major contribution to the history of McHenry Country Club. Vale Adams was the club professional at MCC from 1962 until 1981. Vale was known locally and nationally as a great golf instructor. Vale’s prowess as teacher gained him a spot on the back of Kellogg’s Special-K cereal boxes showing the proper way to hit mid-iron shots.

Next, Vale’s son, Gary, after leaving college, started working as a golf salesman. He observed that new golf balls worked well with irons, but not wood clubs, so he started tinkering to create a metal driver. In 1979, Gary Adams borrowed $24,000 on his house and leased a 6,000 square foot building in McHenry, Illinois and founded TaylorMade Golf. He originally had three employees and sold only one item, his newly invented 12-degree loft metalwood.

gva_birth_metal_woodThe original TaylorMade factory (today, the site of a CVS Pharmacy) was located just one-half mile from McHenry Country Club, and the MCC practice range was the site for field testing all of the clubs designed and produced in the original factory. Gary went on to build two more companies that featured metal woods: Founders Club and McHenry Metals. Thus, Wikipedia has named Gary Adams as the “nominal inventor of the modern metal wood”.

Gary’s son, Brad, grew up in the Adams’ house alongside McHenry Country Club and continued the family tradition of working in the golf industry. Brad’s full given name, Bradley Vale Adams, pays homage to his family bloodlines. Brad won the Illinois PGA Junior state championship at age 18; moving on to college, Brad was educated at Augusta State University, a noted golf powerhouse, and shortly after college, at age 24, Brad was one of the founding members of Odyssey Golf (putters). Brad then held executive positions at Never Compromise and YES!!! putters. Brad’s newest golf endeavor is set to launch shortly — Bloodline Putters. Now based in Jupiter, FL, Brad is an honorary member at McHenry Country Club.

Gary Adams passed away in 2000 after battling pancreatic cancer, and in tribute to Gary, TaylorMade donated funds to build the Gary V. Adams bridge on MCC’s signature #8hole. The stone footbridge will forever honor the “father of the metal wood”. Vale Adams passed away in 2014, and played golf up until the day he died, five minutes after leaving the golf course. Visitors to MCC can view the many honors and collection of TaylorMade clubs given by Gary Adams to his home course in the McHenry Heritage Room located in the lobby of the MCC clubhouse.


8th Hole – McHenry Country Club

Scott Beaugureau is the current head golf professional at MCC, and when asked the question ‘when considering joining a country club, what might be the main reason someone would choose McHenry’? Scott replied “because McHenry Country Club is a pure golf club that offers the best and most complete practice range in the area”. MCC’s practice area includes a 15-acre full-flight driving range measuring 280 yards. The grass teeing area is 100 yards wide; there are 5 target greens on the range, and the practice area also features a greenside practice bunker and a fairway practice bunker.

Additionally, there is a practice putting green and a warm-up net adjacent to the #1hole teeing ground. With its emphasis on golf, MCC does not offer tennis or swimming. Beaugureau went on to state that MCC has the highest percentage of single-digit handicap membership in the CDGA. Of its 220 members (60 equity members, plus 160 Gold membership), there are 80 that carry a single digit handicap. MCC has hosted the Illinois Senior Open for the past four years.

MCC is an open acceptance club. There are no tee-time restrictions, meaning any member can play at any time. Doctors will tell you that walking is good exercise and MCC encourages its members to be healthy and walk. The MCC layout featuring a short distance from green to next tee is a perfect fit to promote walking.

Beaugureau estimates that nearly 60% of MCC’s rounds are played by walkers. For those preferring to ride, there are two options: an annual trail fee for golfer-owned riding cars or rental cars per round at the course. During the summer, caddies are another available option. MCC’s caddie program has produced 30 Evans Scholars since 1996.

MCC has erected a new directional sign at the corner of Green Street and John Street. This new sign is in approximately the same location as the original wooden arched sign. Along with the directional arrow, the new sign announces that memberships are available, so if you are a golfer looking to join a country club, then McHenry Country Club is looking for you.

McHenry Country Club

Phone: 815-385-1072
820 North John Street
McHenry, IL 60050


Greg Miles

Greg Miles has been a writer following golf in Chicago since 1990. For the past 30 years he has been a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and currently is classified as a GWAA "Life Member". He played his first round of golf on his 11th birthday, and since then has played more than 7,300 rounds of golf in his lifetime at 517 different courses. He has interviewed more than 280 golfers across all the professional tours along with famous celebrity golfers. Additionally, he is a member of several other competitive and honorary golf associations, as well as the Golf Nut Society.

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