The century-old Oak Park Country Club has been sitting on lush green grass on the border of Elmwood Park and River Grove since 1914.
The history of the club began with golf course designer Donald Ross, who designed the club as his first solo project.
“In the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, Phyllis Diller and Milton Berle would come to Oak Park,” Joseph Travaglio, the club’s general manager said regarding two of the many entertainers who came to the area. “Our history, as far as events, really catered to Hollywood.”
Golf instructor David Leadbetter has been quoted as saying he wouldn’t be where is he is today without Oak Park. Other notables include Horton Smith, who won the Masters Tournament in 1934, Dick Metz, who won the 1938 U.S. Open, and Lloyd Mangrum, who won the 1946 U.S. Open all called Oak Park home. Most importantly, Errie Ball, who won the 1934 Masters Tournament, called himself a member.
Today, the Oak Park Country Club is 6,855 yards. The club has 520 members. To join, one must be invited. Like any country club, it does bridal showers, weddings, fundraisers and, of course, golf outings.
“We reinvented our logo from our fifth anniversary,” Travaglio said, as one of the ways the club is celebrating the milestone.
The 100-year anniversary was May 19, marked by a hickory shaft tournament in which players dressed in 1914 attire and used wooden golf clubs.
The club is gearing up for a “party of the century” Sept. 20, a black tie event that is to include six bands, a fireworks display and food.
“There will be a lot of secrets from the past,” Travaglio promised. “There’s going to be surprises.”
Children of members will be able to put artifacts in a time capsule that will be buried. Fifty years from now, the capsule will be opened. Kids will also be able to celebrate with a centennial kid’s party that includes ponies and a drive in movie screen.
Club members were given a complimentary Centennial Book. The book is not for sale, but can be downloaded on the Oak Park Country Club’s website.
“We love our community,” Travaglio said. “There is a lot of history here.”