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donald ross

Donald Ross

Ravisloe Country Club was established in 1901 by an ambitious and visionary group comprised largely of members of Chicago’s Standard Club. Ravisloe’s founders selected the 120-acre Briggs farm in Homewood, Illinois as the site for their new venture only after considering and ultimately rejecting another property belonging to a Dutchman named Ravisloot. While entertaining that first option, founding members decided “Ravisloot” had a nice ring to it, adapted the moniker to Ravislow and ultimately, called their fledgling club Ravisloe.

The original golf course, laid out by Theodore Moreau and James Foulis, covered only 101 acres of the Briggs property and was reasonably playable by fall of 1901. A modest frame cottage served as the original clubhouse. By June 1902, the golf course had undergone drainage improvements, a second frame clubhouse was in use and an early Green Committee chair had commissioned the scientific reconstruction of the greens.

In 1910, the Club purchased an adjacent 55-acre parcel and revamped the entire golf course. Well-known golf architect William Watson oversaw changes to the course during the 1910-13 time span. Golf luminaries like Harry Vardon, Edward Ray, Warren Wood and Chick Evans praised the course’s championship character, suggesting only the addition of more “traps and pits” as the greens were not sufficiently guarded.

In 1916, the Club invited the world-renowned Donald Ross to put his imprint on the course. The Ross renovation, carried out from 1917-19, rendered Ravisloe much more distinctive and challenging. Fine-tuning per Ross’ directives continued until 1924.

In the meantime, Ravisloe replaced its 1902 clubhouse with a Spanish Mission-style masterpiece designed by George Nimmons, the same architect behind Olympia Fields’ noteworthy clubhouse. That same iconic clubhouse remains in place today, evoking all the splendor and elegance of the Gilded Age during which it was built.

Flash forward to the next century, and the next step in the evolution of Ravisloe’s 18-hole course. In 2001, Club membership commissioned the esteemed David Esler to restore the course features consistent with Ross principles. Esler’s renovation garnered critical acclaim and popular applause. Its singular ambiance, fabulous amenities and world-class golf course notwithstanding, however, Ravisloe was experiencing declining membership and economic stress…like so many other courses nationwide during a very troubled time.

In late 2008, after 107 years as a storied country club with a proud and strong Jewish heritage, Ravisloe closed its doors. What would become of this historic property? The Village of Homewood and the Chicago golf community watched and waited.

Enter Claude Gendreau. An acclaimed veterinary surgeon, Dr. Gendreau is an innovator in his field and one of the first board certified specialists to practice outside a university setting. He is also an ardent advocate for eco-responsibility and sustainable living. Viewing Ravisloe as a special urban open space that should be preserved and enjoyed by everyone, Dr. Gendreau purchased Ravisloe in February 2009 and opened the course to the public. His commitment to restoring this historic course to its illustrious days has resulted in Ravisloe being rated, in 2014, Sixth Best Public Access golf course in Illinois by Golfweek Magazine. The goal is to assure the viability of this special urban open space for social and environmental benefits for decades to come.