Our guest this episode is Ron Cassidy, who is director of golf for the Glenview Park Golf Club and the Glenview Prairie Club. The Glenview Park Club recently reopened after a complete renovation by leading golf course architect Rick Jacobson. Learn how the renovation came to be and the challenges Ron and his team faced during the project. To learn more about Glenview Golf, visit GolfGlenview.com.
Interviewer: Walter Lis. Running Time: 17:06
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WL: Can you give us an overview of what Glenview Golf looks like? I know you have a couple different properties; maybe you can explain the courses and what you oversee.
RC: The Glenview Golf Park Club has been in the park district family since 1955. The park district purchased the property back from the old Chesterfield Country Club. When the residents that lived around the golf course — it was going to go up to a real estate development, they were going to build homes of it, and the people who had lived around the area said, “No, no, no, no, we want it to remain a golf course.”
They purchased the property 60 years ago for $550,000. Since then, obviously, they’ve done some improvement since the years have gone by. They did original clubhouse improvement in 1963 and 1964, and rebuilt and had a new clubhouse in 1965.
The renovations of the actual course, to my knowledge, occurred in 1983. And our current renovation has taken place in 2014, 2015.
In 1999 and 2000, when the Glenview naval air station closed down, the Village of Glenview annexed the 1,100 acre parcel of the old Glenview naval air station, and subdivided and did some master planning. As part of that, the park district purchased 39.3 acres, and they developed the Glenview National Nine, which was a 2,000 yard course that was specifically designed for beginners and seniors.
The Glenview National Nine is maintained at a level that you won’t see at any other nine-hole course in the area. It’s bent grass, from tee-to-green. It has a continuous cart path all the way around, and includes a very unique agreement with KemperSports Management and the Glen Club across the street in which their maintenance department actually maintains our facility to the same level as the Glen Club. So, the Glenview Park District is fortunate enough to have both a 9 and 18-hole facilities in town.
WL: So, you mentioned the Glenview National Nine, which I believe you’ve changed the name?
RC: Yes, in 2012 the facility name was changed to The Glenview Prairie Club and was completely renovated with the addition of paddle tennis. There were four paddle tennis courts built and a permanent clubhouse.
When we began operating The Glenview National Nine in 2001, we had a temporary double-wide trailer that we said to the board, “In 3 to 5 years, we’ll build something.” Well, ten years later, we finally built a permanent clubhouse, and with that, came the name change and the addition of the paddle tennis facility.
WL: That’s a very unique arrangement to have KemperSports involved. Do you think that’s the primary reason why the conditioning on that course is so spectacular?
RC: It’s certainly a contributing factor that we have such a unique agreement that we have the expertise of a course that’s maintained at a level that they can charge what they do. The Glen Club has one of the highest price green fees for a daily course in the Chicago land area, but it’s also a beautiful course.
I would say we’re fortunate enough to have the arrangement. The course was always designed to be bent grass from tee-to-green, and maintained at a standard above any nine-hole facility in the area.
WL: What kind of audience do you attract to the Glenview Prairie Club?
RC: It’s very much a junior and senior and a novice-level golf course that people come out there to go ahead and challenge their short game, get some practice on both the irons and the wedges and the putters.
You mentioned the greens are very challenging; there is lots of undulation to them, so they’re cut a little bit higher. If we put a Stimp there, I wouldn’t even venture or guess what they’re running right now, but they’re considerably slower than they are across the street, that’s for sure.
WL: Can you talk a little bit about the Glenview Park Golf Club and the renovation, and what precipitated that?
RC: All 18 holes of Glenview Golf Park Club have been renovated. We shut down the course last year on July 7th. Rick Jacobson had worked with the park district beginning back in 2011 to develop a master plan for the golf course that was in desperate need of updating. Again, the last time we had done anything major to the course was in 1983.
We approached Rick and said, “Hey, if money were ever to become available, we’d want to do something well.” July 7th in 2014, everything became a reality.
Lots of behind the scenes work that went into that, but, Wadsworth Construction started on July 7th and essentially what happened is everything got re-grassed, tees, greens, fairways. Everything was re-graded to go ahead and promote positive drainage.
They have been suffering from the washboard effect, as we called it, on some of the fairways, where you would either water, you’d get rain, and there were areas where water would sit. As we all know, grass doesn’t grow underneath water, and as soon as we tried to rebuild, it would rain again and wash the seed away.
We needed everything to flow and everything to drain really well. That was one of the effects of what Jacobson was trying to do.
We repositioned and redefined every single bunker that was on the course. Everything got more strategically placed.
In addition, the bunkers all got the all new drainage. We lined many of the faces of the bunkers. We added sand up on the face of the bunker to reduce any issues after major rain developments. We just need to go ahead and push the sand back up on the face. They’re all draining much better, even with some of the rain events that we’ve had.
WL: Based on his resume with work being done at North Shore Country Club, at Sportsman’s Country Club, and at Anetsberger Golf Course, it seems pretty obvious that Rick Jacobson would be the right choice. How did you come to the decision to work with Rick on this project?
RC: We were all really happy. He designed the Glenview National Nine, and our experience working with him at Glenview National Nine was nothing but a positive one.
What Rick was really proud of through this whole project is that growing up in Glenview, he played at Glenview Golf Club as a kid, so he had extra heart and soul poured into this project. It’s his childhood course and we knew from the beginning that it was going to be a good fit.
WL: You mentioned a little bit of the history of Glenview and Glenview golf, and it’s always been sort of a hotbed. You’ve had a tremendous amount of courses built. North Shore Country Club in 1903, and it just started from there. What would you like to see Glenview Golf in 2015 and in the next 5 to 10 years, what’s your goal? How would you like to see it evolve?
RC: I’d like to see more youngsters coming back into the game. We know as an industry, golf is really struggling to attract younger players and keep them.
I think the attraction for the younger folks has changed a little bit. I’d really love to see us go ahead and get the younger player back in, and get those folks who want to try the game, get them hooked on the fun of it, and get them back into the game and playing more often.
I think that’s just industry-wise, everybody’s doing that. But more importantly, we know that over the last several years, the course conditions, as a result of simple age at Glenview were deteriorating, so our most immediate goal is to go back and show everybody “Hey, we’ve done a nice job here. We want you to come back. We want you to enjoy this facility, it’s here for the residence of Glenview, most specifically. But it’s also here for our surrounding neighbors to come and enjoy. We want to give them a great value and a great golf course right here in their own backyard’.
WL: The final question, outside of your two courses, what are couple of your favorite courses here in the Chicago land area? What are some golf courses that you kind of respect and admire.
RC: My favorite golf course ever is the plantation course at Kapalua, but that’s a couple thousand miles away in Hawaii. So I guess that doesn’t count, huh? I’ve had the opportunity to play there a couple of times and it’s wonderful. Private clubs count?
I’ve had the pleasure of playing North Shore Country Club a number of occasions, and I really like playing North Shore. Number one, because it’s close by here, but every time I’ve been to North Shore, it’s just beautifully maintained. Danny Dinelli, the golf course superintendent, we know him really well, and we work closely with him, just does a fantastic job, and the course is always in great shape. So, I always enjoy going over there. To me, when I play it, I don’t play particularly well over it, because it’s a little bit tougher than Glenview Park, but I don’t play particularly bad either. I always seem to come out on scale with the partners I’m with, so, I would say North Shore is one I admire in the immediate area.
If I can nominate my own course, I always go over and play at Prairie Club. I just enjoy going over and bringing new folks over there to showcase the facility and how well it’s maintained, and how easy it can play for a beginner from the forward tee. So, those have got to be my two favorites.
Glenview Park Golf Club
800 Shermer Road
Glenview, IL 60025