Sportsman’s Country Club’s Total Makeover

SPORTSMANS-GOLFOver the past four to five months the entire population of the Chicago area has been thrust into a vortex of disheartening news about COVID-19 with politicians and medical experts unable to put any positive spin on the happenings. The covid vortex contained bad news for local golfers including the temporary closing of courses followed by limited tee times and pairings, touchless flagsticks, and minimal clubhouse services. But amid this maelstrom of “badness” for golfers there is one bright spot surfacing — the remodeling project of Sportsman’s Country Club in Northbrook is right on schedule.

In 2018, the Northbrook Park District launched a capital initiative project which included improvements to the golf courses, practice facilities and clubhouse at Sportsman’s Country Club. The Northbrook Park District Board of Commissioners allocated $12.5 million for this project.

After a thorough review and analysis of their plans the Northbrook Park District Board of Commissioners along with and the Golf Project Team selected Rick Jacobson, President, Jacobson Golf Course Design, Inc., of Libertyville, IL, as architect for the improvements at both golf courses and the range at Sportsman’s Country Club. Rick had worked with the Park District in 2004 on the Anetsberger Golf Course remodel and was the course architect for the 2005 renovations at Sportsman’s Country Club. The Board asserted that they are dedicated to the goal of enhancing the overall golf experience at Sportsman’s and to becoming a desired destination for the entire community and they therefore re-engaged Mr. Jacobson.

More than a century ago, noted architect and urban planner with deep ties to Chicago, Daniel Burnham said “make no little plans” and this quote can be specifically applied to the 2020 makeover at Sportsman’s Country Club. The entire Sportsman’s Country Club golf facility will be upgraded and improved, including all 27 holes from both courses, the clubhouse, driving range, and parking lot.

The Sportsman’s golf complex features two courses, the Classic 18 course, and the East 9 course. Upgrades to all 27 holes include: total reconstruction of all Classic 18 greens and re-grassing of all East 9 greens; re-grassing of all fairways on both courses; and, the addition of forward tees on all 27 holes. Improvements have been made to the East 9 irrigation system. Improved drainage with sub-surface pipe installation has been implemented on both courses along with contouring around and expansion of the lakes for better stormwater management and drainage. The project includes the trimming, relocating, or removal of various mature trees with the addition of 200 new trees.

SPORTSMANS-GOLFThe former clubhouse has been demolished and is being replaced with a new clubhouse whose floor is 5 feet higher than the previous clubhouse floor. The restaurant in the new clubhouse will afford an improved year-round dining experience with flexible space for private parties and special events. Also included in the new clubhouse is an indoor golf room with Full Swing Golf simulators.

The old grass and topsoil on the driving range has been stripped and seed for new grass has been planted. The driving range will feature new target greens and tee stations and golf cart parking at the tee line.

The new short game practice areas, including practice putting green and chipping green with practice bunker, will be situated near the #1 tee and #9 green of the Classic 18 course. The facility’s parking lot will be re-paved, and a new driveway entrance pond will be added for aesthetics and to catch rainwater runoff.

“We are extremely excited and tremendously proud to continue our relationship with the Northbrook Park District team on a project that will enhance the Sportsman’s Country Club golf experience for residents and guests”, said Jacobson.

Sportsman’s is closed for the 2020 season with a scheduled reopening in the summer of 2021.


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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