History of Park Ridge Country Club
When the Chicagoland sports stories for the year 1906 were compiled at year end, the biggest story had to be the Cubs-White Sox World Series, the first and, as of today, the only all-Chicago World Series. Much further down the stories list might have been the founding of a country club in the city of Park Ridge. A group of local businessmen and doctors who had first hung a shingle with the name “Park Ridge Country Club’ above the entrance to a group of five tennis courts on Northwest Highway wanted to broaden their sporting and social interests in a club……
“The object for which is formed to promote the social, moral and physical welfare of its members
and others, to encourage social intercourse and athletic sports, to rent, purchase or otherwise
acquire, a club house, tennis courts, golf links and other necessary and proper grounds.”
And broaden the founders did, as have those who have followed them. From the first steps in 1906 to the present day, the Club has evolved across the full spectrum of family-oriented country club activities and facilities.
The Club’s first clubhouse was the small, modest farmhouse from the Robb Farm. It wasn’t big enough for a grand ballroom but it provided space for social gatherings and locker rooms. In 1912 famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright was engaged to provide a “proper” building to serve the membership. Wright designed a connector to another farm building as a basis for expanding the original farmhouse. Two short, blocky buildings became the base for an expansion into the long, low lines of a prairie style building with a sleek expanse of glazed window and screened porch.
In 1925 the first clubhouse to be built from the ground up was constructed. The impressive two-story red-brick colonial Georgian-style building provided larger spaces for dining and social gatherings, significant improvements to the kitchen and locker room facilities, a card room, and office space.
The 1925 clubhouse remained without significant renovation for forty-five years. It has been enlarged and enhanced via major projects in 1969 and 1987, and as part of a 2001 Capital Plan. Today it stands as a perfect venue for the Club’s traditional family and social functions.
The first “proper grounds” acquired was the former Robb Farm located just north of Sibley Avenue and west of Prospect Avenue, and the first priority for use of the land was a golf course. The history of the Park Ridge course is best viewed through the lens of the notable golf course architects who designed and developed it over the years. The first of these was H.J. Tweedie, known as “The Father of Golf in the West.” He designed 13 courses in Illinois between 1898 and 1906, the last of which was the original Park Ridge 9-hole course.
In 1911, Tom Bendelow was hired to expand the course to 18 holes. Bendelow is credited with the design of more than 600 courses (some estimates say up to 1,000) across thirty U.S. states and five Canadian provinces, including more than sixty courses in Illinois. His prolific work earned him the title: “The Johnny Appleseed of American Golf.” His work at Park Ridge included the incorporation of 97 sand traps.
In 1915 the Club acquired an additional 20 acres in the northwest corner of the course and hired William B. Langford to rebuild the course. His work remains the dominant influence on today’s golf course. Langford developed a national reputation for outstanding courses, including the Ridgemoor and Skokie country clubs in Illinois and the Links at Lawsonia in Wisconsin.
William Langford’s design at Park Ridge remained without significant modification for 85 years. In 2001, architect David Esler was engaged to provide a hole-by-hole restoration of the course, including some infrastructure improvements and the correction of patchwork changes made over the years. Esler’s stated goal was to make the course more “Langfordesque.” His work was well received as a beautiful prairie course with a parkland atmosphere. The latest modifications to the Park Ridge course were completed in 2021 under the direction of Greg Martin, a Chicago-area award-winning architect and a former president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects. His primary task was a complete renovation of the course bunkers but he also developed closely-mown chipping areas and opened up areas to provide additional playing options.
Racket Sports and Swimming
The five early tennis courts on Northwest Highway served members for several years but there were no courts on club premises until 1940 when three clay courts were built. A major renovation in 2001 brought a fourth court and a Tennis House. Paddle tennis was added to the racquet facilities in 2017 with four courts and a Paddle Hut that has become a winter social hub.
A swimming pool complex that was first considered in the 1920s became part of the club in 1958. It was remodeled in 2001 with a new pool and an extended sun deck and snack area.
As reflected in our Mission Statement, we plan to continue what our founders began in 1906:
“PRCC creates a lifetime of memories through a diverse social and sports experience
that is welcoming, unpretentious and family oriented.”