BY KATIE MATTESON
If you’ve not been to the Racine Country Club on Northwestern Avenue lately or have never had the opportunity to visit, you might not know that it’s not your grandfather’s country club.
While he’s proud of the club’s rich history, general manager John Schneider wants you to know that it has evolved significantly since the early years of strictly golf, Scotch and cigars and now has family-friendly activities for all.
“We’ve listened to our members and created a place where families can come and relax,” Schneider said. “In addition to our fantastic golf course, we also offer incredible food, amazing recreation facilities, plus lots of activities and events – all designed to enhance the member experience.”
Recent upgrades include the remodeled fitness center including new exercise equipment, a year-round golf simulator and new outdoor dining space.
The RCC traced its origins back to 1908 in a publication in honor of the club’s 100-year anniversary: “About 10 years after the country’s first golf course, a group of industrialists formed the Racine Golf Association. They leased 75 acres of land just off Osborne Boulevard and northwest of Graceland Cemetery where they built a nine-hole course…The promoters of the club were Henry and Frank Mitchell, Frank Bull, Richard Robinson, Stephen Bull, Arthur Guilbert, Charles Baker, H.M. Wallis, Fredrick Robinson, A.J Horlick, R.J. Rogers, Lucius Elliott and W.H. Cahall.
“Within a few years the lessors raised the rent considerably so the members decided to pursue obtaining property of their own. To accomplish this, on May 10, 1909, William Mitchell, James Gleason and Martin Gillen incorporated the Idlewild Land Company authorizing $100,000 in stock. This undoubtedly was for the purchase of 176 acres from Charles Wustum on the northern end of town.
“Following the purchase they formed The Racine Country Club and incorporated it on December 1, 1909. The Articles of Incorporation stated the membership was open ‘to any person of good moral character.’”
Early on the club established itself as top notch golf club. In 1910, it was said to be one of the longest and most difficult nine-hole courses in the country. By 1927, the course was redesigned as an 18-hole course to maximize enjoyment of the picturesque landscape along the scenic Root River and has since received periodic upgrades to maintain its status.
During the years before the swimming pools and tennis courts were added, the grounds were used for such sports as tobogganing, cross country skiing and trap shooting. Members still enjoy the bowling lanes that were installed when the original clubhouse was built in 1909.
In the early 1970s, the club began its evolution from a golf-oriented club to a more social/recreational facility with the addition of new men’s and women’s locker rooms, a new wing on the clubhouse, upgrade of the pool facilities, addition of tennis courts, a bathhouse and snack bar.
Future plans call for the establishment of a multi-purpose sports area for tennis, volleyball, badminton, basketball, pickle ball and winter ice skating, along with a three-mile run/walk path around the perimeter of the golf course, a new Kids Zone for movies, gaming, crafts and roughhousing, covered and heated golf range bays, a beer garden and summer kitchen, plus a floating obstacle course for summertime fun in the pool.
The club has always been a hub of social activities, including bridge, poker, fashion shows, talent shows, parties, dances, cigar dinners and holiday meals, as well as hosting weddings and other special events.
While membership numbers have ebbed and flowed through the years, Schneider said that the additional amenities, positive community atmosphere and a new executive chef have attracted more families to the club.
“We’re happy to provide the best restaurant in town for our members and their guests,” Schneider said.
The club now offers a trial year at 50% off the annual dues. In addition, young professionals (40 and under) receive further dues reductions (tiered by age) with access to all the club’s amenities, including unlimited golf.
For more information, contact membership director Mark Van Ess at (262) 637-8537, email@example.com or visit racinecountryclub.com.
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