Appointed Consultant for Course Restoration
An effort was made to first organize a golf club in Kenosha, Wisconsin in or around 1897 by a group known as Kenosha Golf Club. Initially, a nine-hole course was developed on a farm just west of town. By 1898 the group dissolved and reorganized as Kenosha Country Club. In 1903, additional land was acquired and the course was expanded to a full 18-hole layout.
In 1920, the community continued to grow and prompted the group (Kenosha Golf Club) to come together again to consider relocation to a new site, one that was ultimately developed where the club still resides today. Once the 175-acre parcel of land was purchased, the club hired renowned golf course architect, Donald J. Ross to lay out a new golf course for ‘Kenosha Country Club’ and according to local newspaper articles, was planned to be ‘one of the finest golf courses to be found in the Middle West’. In March of 1921, the construction of the course commenced with intentions of completion by October 15th of the same year. In the fullness of time, the course would be completed in November of the same year, for a sum nearing $60,000. Seeding was done in August of 1921 and the course was finally inaugurated for play on May 20, 1922. Interestingly, I observed very well-preserved ledger sheets held by the Club that indicate the various phased expenditures during the development of the course, with purchasing of equipment, grass seed, fertilizer and even the fees to Donald Ross and his assistant, Walter Hatch.
Through the years, the clubhouse has undergone updating and renovations and the club grew from what was strictly a golf club to what is now more of a family based facility, with swimming and tennis among its added amenities.
The golf course, still recognized among the best courses in the state, plates a design that remains amazingly intact after 93 years of evolution, influence and use. The Club continues to honor its history by featuring a likeness and reference of its original architect, Donald Ross, on its logo. The KCC website even makes the clever slogan, “A Donald Ross course, for not as much as you think….”
Clearly, the perception of Ross’ imprint on Kenosha Country Club continues to be held in high regard, as well it should. Ross is responsible for over 400 course designs in the United States, many of which are notably acclaimed, historically treasured and have played host to the most prestigious of golf tournaments. Kenosha Country Club is one of only two Ross designs in the state of Wisconsin, along with Oconomowoc Golf Club (west of Milwaukee), which was built seven years earlier. As such, there appears not only to be the rationale to preserve this storied course and design, but there also seems the interest and pride among the members to continue to honor and improve the course.
To say this course is a diamond in the rough is an absolute understament. Rare is the occassion that an architect can essentially rediscover a Ross design that is virtually untouched. The original design is very nearly entirely intact. By the same token, the course has undergone normal evolutions, what with a wave of misplanted trees, filled-in bunkers, fairway realignments, added tees and shrunken green surfaces... but that is all normal fare for a course nearing 100 years in age. The fact that the physical features of his course are essentially in their original form today is truly amazing. Our efforts will be centered on uncovering the details of the original design intent and presenting them again in a form that will render the course "new" again.
When complete, I suspect this course will gain quite a bit of talk... mostly because not many know much about its existence. And then there will be those who commonly seek out courses of this vintage... especially a Ross design so near all of the grand courses on Chicago's North Shore.
One of only two Donald Ross designed courses in Wisconsin