The History of Glen Flora Country Club

Glen Flora Country Club ~ Established 1911

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  • In the Beginning
    • In 1911, on January 5th, The Glen Flora Country Club came into existence. The golf course was located on Golf Road, just west of our present site, and the Clubhouse was situated behind the Railroad Station on a small hill. The incorporators were William G. Strong, Claire C. Ed- wards, and Elam L. Clarke. The property was part of the Clay Farm and was leased, not owned, by Glen Flora. The records of the first secretary of Glen Flora Country Club, C. Ray Whitney, list the Board of Governors as Russell Price, H.H. Smith, William G. Strong, A.C. Fischer, George Goodnow, Charles Ebert, and Elam Clarke.

      The Club prospered and the membership grew. In February of 1920, the Club acquired its present property by granting fifty Life Member- ships to members willing to extend Glen Flora $1,000.00 each. The property, known as the Adams Farm, was purchased for $45,000.00. Each Life Member then extended the Club $500.00 more to construct a Clubhouse. On November 8, 1920, Glen Flora Country Club moved to this present site. A.K. Bowes, then secretary of the Illinois Title & Trust Co. was elected secretary of Glen Flora and held that office until 1935. The first President of Glen Flora, 1919 to 1920, was C.L. Dodge and the Building Committee Chairman was Charles Whitney.

      What is now our practice fairway was purchased later from Charles Ingalls for $5,500.00. The golf course was designed by our former Pro Austin Clayssens, and Alex Perry from Old Elm Club. What is now our 10th hole was then the 1st hole, and our Golf Shop was located at the northeastern corner of our Clubhouse.

      Our golf course record, by a professional is 64. This was accomplished in 1928 by none other than Glen Flora’s course designer and Pro, Aus- tin Clayssens. (The Club Manager at this time was Miss Flanigan, and it was reported she prepared terrific food.) Contrary to Club lore, Byron Nelson does not hold this record. Byron shot a remarkable 67 in 1943.

      The course record by an amateur is 65, shot in 1952 by Mike Stolaric of Waukegan. This record was tied by Dave Hiner in 1994. (A real accomplishment with watered fairways!)

      During the 1920’s, James Miller was Club Champion and as a member of Bob O’Link, he shot his age, 75. In 1925 Glen Flora had its youngest champion ever. At the age of 16, William Fitch, son of Keith Fitch, won top laurels.

      The 20’s were rather notorious, as many members residing in Chicago would travel by train to Waukegan on Saturday morning for golf, imbibe most of the night, and golf again on Sunday morning. In 1955 and 1956, many Waukegan members were doing the same and enjoying it immensely.

      During the difficult years following the crash of 1929, Glen Flora Country Club survived very nicely without assessments or raising the dues. This was accomplished by an ingenious contraption called a slot-machine.

      Golf records list the 1922 Ladies’ Champion as Mrs. Whyte, mother of member Charles L. Whyte, Jr. Member “Pamp” Foley, whose mother was an avid golfer, recalls that she was assigned locker No. 1. Records al- so show that an outstanding woman golfer of way back when was Inez Clark Champington. During the same period, Lee Harmington of Wilson Sporting Goods was the leader in the men’s field.

  • Major Advancements
    • Major capital improvements appear to have been nil until 1954, when the firm of Ganster & Henninghausen was directed to design and construct a swimming pool for Glen Flora. The pool was opened in 1955, and in 1969, fourteen years later, Bill Ganster was informed the pool was much too small. Following the grand opening of the pool, Glen Flora was host to the Western Open of the Ladies’ Professional Golf Association. Many members caddied for the ladies, for nothing more than to assist them in selecting clubs on our more difficult holes. Records show that Jackie Pung, the Hawaiian star of the tour, hit her tee shot onto Sheridan Road at No. 11. Records do not name her caddie.

      In 1962, Glen Flora proceeded with much needed improvements. A new Golf Shop, Ladies’ Locker Room, and offices were constructed. The Clubhouse building was given a new look and we watered our beautiful fairways.

      Glen Flora hosted the Ladies’ Midwest Amateur Tournament soon after, and the girls showed the members how to drive the tough ninth and seventeenth.

      In September of 1963, the three greatest names in golf competed for $50,000.00 in prize money at Glen Flora. Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player tested our course for 36 holes and came away with nothing but praise. Player scored a 136, 4 under par for first prize of $20,000, Nicklaus’ 138 was worth $16,000.00, and Palmer at 141 collected $14,000.00. On his last round, Jack Nicklaus hit all 18 greens in regulation and still only scored par. “Gary’s Gallery” came into being during this tournament. Steve Lindberg, son of member Don Lindberg, and five of his friends, dressed in black to match their leader. They followed Gary Player carrying their large placard reading “Gary’s Gallery”. This was the last major golf event held at Glen Flora.

      Glen Flora’s first official Club Professional was one of our founders and the designer of our golf course, Austin Clayssens. Austy served 13 years. Forbes Leith, Club Professional number 2, served 13 years through 1948. Glen Flora’s third Golf Pro, Jerry Glynn, operating out of a tiny white cottage behind our first tee, stayed with Glen Flora through 1964, a total of 16 years. 1964 brought Ken Henry to Glen Flora, a two time Olympic medal winner—one gold!-not for golf, but speed skating. A tremendous achievement, Ken served Glen Flora for 30 years! In 1967, Glen Flora remodeled the kitchen from top to bottom. In 1968, we completed an addition to the Bar and Grille and redesigned the area completely. The upstairs Ballroom-Dining Room was completed in 1969 and the Men’s Locker Room in 1970. At this point, most members felt our Clubhouse improvements were completed. On December 19, 1970, our Clubhouse was completely destroyed by fire. A fire that started on the second floor in the early morning hours was not brought under control until late in the day, leaving only the Golf Shop standing. After insurance settlements and agreements with the general membership, the firm of Ganster & Henninghausen was contracted to design and build a new Clubhouse. Nine months from the date of the fire, construction began. The anticipated completion date was mid 1972, resulting in the current Clubhouse.

      Starting in 2007 and finishing in 2008 The club house, men’s locker room, ladies locker room, bathrooms, both kitchens, pool, pool house, tennis courts and golf shop were all remodeled to what you see today. It was a much needed facelift at the time to accommodate more of a family atmosphere. As the years continue on, we continue to improve with new flooring installed the last two winters and upgrades in décor, paint and finishes every season.

      The golf course has been improved with landscaping and a double row computerized sprinkler system. With the exception of changing the starting hole in 1942 (reversing the nines), the course layout is much the same as originally designed. Still a challenge...still a great golf course!

      This brief history of Glen Flora Country Club was assembled with facts from the Waukegan News-Sun, the Waukegan Public Library, from personal experience, and interviews with many of our staff members.

      George L. Harlow

      “Mr. Glen Flora”—Club Historian
      1924-2015
      GFCC Member 1952-2015

      Addendum

      The member equity owned club was sold in November 2015 to Mr. Dean Chudy and family of Libertyville. The club remained a private country club with the continued objective of being one of the finest private country clubs on Chicago's North Shore.   Following this idea, Glen Flora improved with many renovations to the golf course and the clubhouse.  Clubhouse improvements made included renovations to all dining rooms, bars, main entryway, locker rooms, golf shop, exteriors, patio, parking lot and various other areas.  Golf course improvements include a new green complex, tees, cart path system, stream and ravine work, bunker drainage and many other aesthetic upgrades.

Glen Flora CC is a private family oriented Lake County country club, located just under 20 minutes from both Lake Bluff, Illinois and Lake Forest, Illinois.
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