KANKAKEE, Ill., Oct. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- A century of magical moments and memories will be highlighted when past and present members of Kankakee Country Club gather in the club's dining hall on Friday, October 30 to celebrate its centennial.
The dinner kicks off a series of special events that will take place at Kankakee Country Club throughout 2016. Established in 1916, Kankakee Country Club was developed originally by Tom Bendelow, a pioneering American golf course architect who was inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame in 2005. Nestled along the Kankakee River about 60 miles south of Chicago, the 5,853-yard, par 70 layout was updated and redesigned by John Darrah in 1963.
Between 150 and 200 people are expected to attend the celebratory dinner. Rende Langlois, current president of Kankakee Country Club, said that all past presidents have been invited, as well as the surviving widows of those now deceased. "I wrote a private letter to each president, asking that they wear their nice blue president's jacket with a Kankakee Country Club emblem in the lapel, if they can still fit into it," he said with a chuckle.
The dinner will set the stage for a year of special activities, said Langlois. "Being our centennial year, we'll have one main event every month. Older members are pulling up historic pictures, old score sheets and such. Some of our members have been here for 70 years, so we'll ask them what the dress code was like, to reflect on what it was like then and how we've advanced."
Incoming president David Tyson, who succeeds Langlois on November 12, says that several generations have enjoyed golf and social outings at the club. "I've been a member since 1978," he said. "Right now we have 360 total members with 190 social members and about 170 of them are golfing members. The course was redesigned back in 1963, and my parents were members then.
"My grandfather was also a member," added Tyson, "along with people like Wilbur Payne and Ray Mortell and Don Mortell, who is still here." Tyson said that Don Mortell's wife Margie is involved in the centennial planning. "Margie has a couple of scrapbooks that she's put together with old photos from our history."
The club has welcomed its share of notables through the years, such as legendary Chicago Cubs shortstop and Major League Hall of Famer Ernie Banks; Chicago Bears owner Mike McCaskey and Bears stars Jay Cutler, Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton; Kevin McHale, star professional basketball player for the Boston Celtics for many years; long-time PGA Tour and PGA Seniors (now Champions) Tour professional golfers Fred Couples and Andy Bean and LPGA Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez; and the ZZ Top Band.
Much has happened since Kankakee Country Club, which rests on the site of former hunting grounds, became a golf course and country club. Brian McCauley, the club's general manager, notes that improvements through the years have included "additional dining rooms, a swimming pool and the expansion of our course from 9 holes to 18 holes."
Perhaps the most memorable moment of all occurred in 2015. "We had an historic rainfall in June of this year," said McCauley. We had to close hole #17, which was under water for five consecutive weeks, for four months."
Langlois added "we had 29 inches of rain in 32 days. I had never seen anything like it. Hole #17 runs parallel to the Kankakee River, and we had to completely reseed and rebuild the 17th fairway."
The course now is back to its pristine condition, and Langlois says more improvements are just ahead. "To start the next 100 years, we will be redoing all of our greens next year, the first time since the course was changed from 9 holes to 18 holes in the '60s. We're going with state-of-the-art, hybrid bent grass."
The formal gala will begin with cocktails at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by popular local singer Misti Kohl and a 5-piece band consisting of Steve Wunder playing saxophone and piano and adding vocals, drummer Chris Field, Tyke Hendershot on bass and guitarist Nick Costa.
Earlier this year Kankakee Country Club signed a three-year agreement with Green Golf Partners (GGP), one of the country's leading golf course management and development companies, to manage "the jewel of the Kankakee valley." GGP regional vice president John Rader oversees operations, working with general manager Brian McCauley and head golf pro Don Yrene.
The private, 18-hole golf course is finely manicured and maintained in "tournament condition." While not especially long, Kankakee Country Club provides a significant challenge with its tight, tree-lined fairways and well-bunkered greens that are very small and fast. Scenic river views, course conditions and rolling terrain are among the reasons why Kankakee Country Club is known as one of the finest private clubs in Illinois.
Kankakee Country Club is a private facility, featuring an 18-hole golf course, manicured practice area, two championship tennis courts and a competitive swimming complex. A recent clubhouse renovation provides more atrium area for casual dining, a new poolside snack bar and patio. Additional renovations will allow for better parking at the front of the club as well as construction of a new pro shop.
About Green Golf Partners
Green Golf Partners is one of the fastest growing golf course management companies in the United States. The senior management team, with over 100 years of experience combined, is considered to be some of the leading golf course management experts in the game of golf in the world. The entire Green Golf Partners team believes that celebrating the game and emphasizing fun is critical to the long-term success at the projects which they develop.
The Green Golf Partners portfolio features courses in five states across the country, including such notable properties as Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Kildeer, Ill. and the Belleview Biltmore Golf Club in Belleair, Fla. For more information on Green Golf Partners, go to www.greengolfpartners.com.
Green Golf Partners
217-359-1024, ext. 2024 (o)
SOURCE Kankakee Country Club