A Rich Tradition of North Shore Clubs
Since the late 1800s, country clubs have played an important role in the development, culture, and lifestyle of the North Shore. While each emerged and evolved for different sets and generations, they offer a glimpse into the early motivations and historical significance of our oldest clubs, many of whom who have endured for more than a century.
Onwentsia Club: Lake Forest resident Rose Farwell, daughter of Senator Charles B. Farwell, was the driving force behind Onwentsia’s birth. A lover of the game of golf, she implored her husband, Hobart Chatfield-Taylor, would-be founding father and first president of Onwentsia, to build her a diminutive seven-hole course on her father’s lawn in Lake Forest. It wasn’t long before Chatfield-Taylor and other influential men in 1895 relocated what was initially called Lake Forest Golf Club to its current 18-hole location. They changed its name to Onwentsia, an Iroquois name signifying, “a meeting place in the country of sporting braves and squaws.”
Exmoor Country Club: 1896 saw the birth of Exmoor Country Club. The state’s third oldest club, Exmoor had its golf course designed by famed architect Donald Ross. The club boasts three members who won the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship: H. Chandler Egan, S. Davidson Herron, and Charles E. “Chick” Evans—who became one of the most acclaimed American amateur golfers of his time, eventually earning induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1975.
Skokie Country Club: Established in 1897 by a group of Chicago businessmen, Skokie was chosen in 1922 to host the U.S. Open. Called the National Open then, the 15,000 spectators paid the first-ever admission fee of $1 to watch the best golfers of the day compete, including Walter Hagen, John Black, and Bobby Jones.
Michigan Shores Club: This club traces its beginnings to 1904, when Wilmette’s first social club, The Ouillmette Country Club, moved from its original Wilmette location to where Michigan Shores stands today.
Evanston Golf Club: In 1898, this club was founded by nine men who decided the town had waited long enough to have its own club. In the early 1900s, when the club lost its land lease, the membership split over a disagreement over where to rebuild the club. This resulted in the formation of two clubs—Evanston and Westmoreland.
Westmoreland Country Club: Established in 1911, Westmoreland was named because the group and club had indeed moved “West-for-more-land.”
Lake Shore Country Club: In 1911, Howard Van Doren Shaw designed Lake Shore Country Club’s grand clubhouse on the lake, when David Adler was still on Shaw’s architectural team. Frank Lloyd Wright later built a house on the edge of the course to capitalize on the spectacular enclave of ravines and trees. In his signature style, Wright seamlessly blended the home with its surrounding natural environment.
Indian Hill Club: Opening in 1914, this New England-style club stands on the site of an old Potawatomi Village, hence the name Indian Hill. In fact, the 10th tee is the high point on the grounds and once used as a lookout point.
Old Elm Club: Originally, this club was launched in 1913 for men to play golf, especially on Sundays when other clubs didn’t allow it. Still a men’s only club, Old Elm remains a bastion of the old guard.
Shoreacres Golf Club: In 1916, a group of younger men who did not yet have access to the private clubs decided to start a club just south of Great Lakes. They took over some surplus military barracks, still used as locker rooms today, to form Shoreacres. In 1923, they built a clubhouse designed by architect David Adler, which was destroyed by fire in the 1980s, and later rebuilt to look like the original.
Knollwood Club: By the mid-1920s, more Chicago people wanted weekend recreation on the North Shore. Knollwood Club was founded in 1925, offering not just golf, but equestrian sports and trails. Surrounded by a neighborhood laid out by Edward Bennett, its informal style follows the design cue of east Lake Forest—curvilinear roads winding among the houses on two-acre lots.