-- by Pete Mandich
Anyone who has ever caddied will tell you that during those (6) hour rounds in 90 degree heat - the mind
has a tendency to wander. And many will dream someday of growing up to be successful enough to be a
member of some fine course, and have someone carry their (25) clubs, (5) dozen balls, and (100) lb.
overblown golf bag; but one dream always stands out above the rest - to actually own your own golf course!
Well, for IV former caddies this "dream" has become a reality. These IV former caddies - brothers Mark & John Haines, Tom Kaufmann, and Jim Reilly should serve as an inspiration for all those current "Loopers" still toiling away on the fairways of any course still lucky enough to offer a caddy program. And, as you will see, they did not buy just any golf course when they took over Lincoln Oaks G.C. in Crete, IL.
Lincoln Oaks Golf Course, as it is currently know, was once part of a grand vision of (4) private courses - built on over 1,000 acres - surrounded by beautiful homes, lakes, tennis courts, polo grounds, riding trails, etc. Lincoln Oaks was the first course built, in 1927, the second course (now known as Lincolnshire Country Club) was completed soon thereafter; but courses #3 & #4, although started, were soon to lose out to the crash of 1929.
Lincoln Oaks G.C., and Lincolnshire C.C. (which still exists as a private club, and shares a parking lot/maintenance facility with Lincoln Oaks) were both designed by the most prolific golf course designer of his day - the tremendously talented Tom Bendelow. Mr. Bendelow, who was known as the "Johnny Appleseed of golf" during his career, who, in conjunction with American Park Builders Inc., was credited with building upwards of (600) golf courses during a thirty-five year period! Included in their long list of successes are the beautiful Olympia Fields C.C., as well as, the outstanding Medinah C.C., both in suburban Chicago.
Also noteworthy: Lincoln Oaks G.C. - When it was part of the (36) hole Lincolnshire C.C. - was the host for many years to the "Lincolnshire Open"; a P.G.A. Tour event which boasted the largest purse for any one day event on the tour, and drew all of the best players of the 1950s & 1960s.
In 1988, for mostly economic reasons, Lincolnshire C.C. sold off the (18) holes we now know as Lincoln Oaks G.C., and the course was opened to the public. Lincoln Oaks G.C. was once again put up for sale in 2005, and that is where this foursome of former caddies re-enter the scene!
2006 - Present
Today's Lincoln Oaks G.C. maintains the same (1927) Tom Bendelow design - with some minor modern modifications. The course still has beautiful bent grass greens & fairways throughout, some rolling hills, over (100) mature trees, a couple of ponds, and is well manicured and bunkered from tee to green. New drainage, and continuous cart paths, have seen to it that only (1) day in the last (5) years has been lost due to course flooding; four sets of tees are now available making the course challenging - or accommodating - depending on your skill level. The five par 5's on the course may look inviting on the car, but their risk/reward aspect make you think before firing away. the second cut, (rough), is usually mowed generously low; the greens, although small, will hold a shot - and putt true; the yardages are well-marked - and visible; the carts are well-maintained; and, the speed of play is excellent.
The course includes a wonderful grass driving range, and with every green fee, range balls are provided free of charge. Also, adjacent to the range there is a (100) yard practice hole, including some well groomed practice sand traps.
If you are planning an outing in the future, include Lincoln Oaks G.C. on your short list. The holes are laid out in such a fashion to allow for friendly banter among the participants, and the clubhouse can handle approx. (100) for dinner. The bar seats (20) with (3) great T.V.'s, and outside grilling is available.
Picnic tables are outside for your convenience, and the food - from breakfast-to outing "fare" gets very high marks. And for those looking to join a league - look no further - leagues are available every day - with the Thursday night mixed league being something truly special. Individual, and family, memberships are available and very reasonably priced.
Most of all, when visiting Lincoln Oaks G.C. you will notice the service! Mark Haines knows how to make you feel right at home; and his staff consisting of: General Manager Bob Seymour, ass't manager Angela, and Mark's wife Kimberly (who handles the accounting and food & beverage duties); or other family members like daughter Lindsey, son Keith, or John Haines and his children Kristin, Jennifer, Steven, and Joe will make you take notice of the family atmosphere throughout Lincoln Oaks G.C.! Lincoln Oaks is extremely proud of its community involvement, assisting in fundraisers, and other fine charitable causes; and is home to both the Boys and Girls golf teams from Marian Catholic H.S., Crete, IL
The village of Crete, Illinois - located approx. (20) miles south of Chicago was founded by the husband and wife team of Willard and Dyantha Wood; who traveled from the state of Vermont seeking a place in the "western" United States to settle down, raise a family, (they had 10 children), and develop a farming homestead. In 1836 they named the town "Crete" after the island they read about in their family bible.
As word got out back east of the fine, fertile, farm land available in the area, more and more settlers moved to the village. A fur trader named Gordon Hubbard established a trade route which assisted these pioneers in their travels, and Hubbard's trail, as it was known, bisected the village - helping establish businesses and commerce. This "trail" is now known as Main Street (and) Dixie Highway, and continues to be a major link to the surrounding communities.
Crete has grown from a predominately farming community, into a south-suburban home for many businesses and light manufacturing. One of the early 20th century landmarks to spring up is the now famous "Balmoral Park" Race Track. Built in 1925, (and originally named "Lincoln Fields"), This historic facility was the inspiration of Colonel Matt Winn - who owned and operated Churchill Downs (the home of the Kentucky Derby). Today Balmoral Park Race Track continues to attract horse racing fans throughout the midwest.
Currently Crete is a wonderfully active community of approx. 9,000 residents, with many fine shops &restaurants downtown, a new high school, a multitude of civic organizations, and great park/recreational facilities. Come visit the village of Crete, meet the friendly people, and try out some of the golfers' favorite haunts - like - Chuck's, Jason's, Northwoods, (all in town), or Paulie's Pub just a short drive from the course - you are sure to want to come back!
Historic Lincoln Oaks G.C. could not be in better hands. And I hope that a few young people may see this story, and realize that if you study, work hard, and "dream big" you too can achieve your own personal goals. And, for the record, Mark & John Haines caddied at Olympia Fields C.C., Tom Kaufmann caddied at Edgewood Valley C.C., and Jim Reilly caddied at Beverly C.C., all in-or-around Chicago. John & Tom were "Evans Scholars" at the U. of Illinois, and Jim was an Evans Scholar at Northwestern. To learn more about the Evans Scholars program, you can log on to: evansscholarsfoundation.com. And see more about one of the truly great organizations in the history of our fine sport.
For further information concerning Lincoln Oaks G.C. - call the course at (708)672-9401 -or- visit their website at lincolnoaksgolfcourse.com. Lincoln Oaks G.C. is located at 395 E. Richton Rd. in Crete, IL 60417 - 1.6 miles west of Rte #394 on Richton Rd. Drive time approx. 20-30 minutes from anywhere in Lake County Indiana.
Congratulations to the P.G.A. Tour on the fine series of "winter" tour events. They have been very entertaining, with new stars emerging, and crowds are responding. Case in point - 500,000 people attended the Phoenix Open! And it was great to see Phil Mickelson win his 40th title!
When Lexi Thompson (a 16 year old on the L.P.G.A. Tour) won last year, it seemed incredible. Well, if you missed it, a "new" 14 year old star won in January! Congratulations to Lydia Ko of New Zealand.
Winter - What winter? With (50) days of 40 degree-or above weather this winter, the players in the region got a well-deserved bonus. Not to mention the courses that wisely remained open. Bob at Lincoln Oaks, Jim at Glenwoodie, Debra at Minne Monesse, Mary Beth at Indian Ridge, John at Scherwood, and Rich with the Valparaiso Park District, all reported some record play.
Thumbs up - for Jon & Steve Chontos the owners/publishers of Golf Plus. For beginning their 20th year in business. Nice work guys!
Shout out to Steelworkers Local 1010 on their continued involvement in golf. Among the many events they are planning for the upcoming year is a "open-to-all" event on Friday April 6th at Minne Monesse G.C. in Grant Park, IL. Thanks to our friends Jaime Calderon - and - Jesse Hernandez for the heads-up. For more info you can contact the local at (219)298-3100.
Remember many courses still have low rates this time of the year, and courses are less crowded - take advantage. If bad weather does persist however, continue to visit our friends Don & Cecilia Ernst at the "Dome" in Crown Point. And take note of any "demo days" at your favorite course, or, Ringo's and J&M Golf stores - a perfect way to try out what is new in golf. And we are glad to see how successful the turn-outs were at the recent Orland Park & Rosemont golf shows - nice job by all.
Good Luck: To all the high school golf teams this spring - and - to the new "team" out at White Hawk C.C. in Crown Point.
As always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions, questions, stories, etc. Please contact me at our e-mail address: email@example.com or leave me a voicemail at (219)947-4314.
Special thanks this month to:
The fine people at Lincoln Oaks C.C. - including Bob Seymour and Mark Haines. Pat Herbert with the Crete area Chamber of Commerce. Kathy, Ellen, and Chris at the Crete Public Library. Michael Modrzejewski and Terry Dekker for all their help, my wonderful wife Mary for everything, and Mrs. Phyllis Monks - the author or many fine books on the history of Crete, Illinois who could not have been more helpful.
Sorry to report - Golf Plus Newspaper, my wife Mary, and I, have lost a good friend. Steven "The Preacher" Glover, an outspoken radio personality with WJOB AM in Hammond, Indiana, passed away recently due to a massive heart attack. "The Preacher", along with good friend "Big George" Vincent, were kind enough to let me come on the air with them this past year to discuss region golf - and I had a blast. Although I never knew what "The Preacher" might say, I always knew it would be entertaining! "The Preacher" knew his golf, having worked at golf facilities in the area, as well as, having his own golf column at one time. He really enjoyed seeing all the familiar region names pop up in the Pepsi/Illiana Events - or - in the hole-in-one submissions. And I know he would have enjoyed this month's story about the Lincoln Oaks IV. He will be missed at Freddy's, and indeed throughout the region. His words at the end of each broadcast always rang true, and were quite prophetic - "Remember you are just renting space on this big rock, so relax, swing as hard as you can, and say your prayers." Our condolences go out to his family and many friends. 10-4 Preacher.