History of Glen Oak Country Club
With chapters of its past written by some of golf’s storied names, Glen Oak Country Club is rich in tradition. For more than 100 years, Glen Oak has been a vibrant hub for its members’ golf, social and family activities.
Established in 1911
The grounds of Glen Oak were a family farm until purchased by the organizers of Pickwick Country Club in the early 1900s. Pickwick commissioned noted golf course architect Tom Bendelow, who designed the original 9-hole course. For reasons unknown Pickwick soon went under. Fearing the prime piece of real estate would be converted to a housing subdivision, the former Pickwick officers worked diligently to find new ownership. Their fears were abated when, in 1911, Glen Oak Country Club was formed.
The name “Glen Oak” was selected as being representative of both Glen Ellyn and Oak Park, the hometown of many original members. For decades, these west suburban members would make their way to the Club by train, the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railroad. There was even a “Glen Oak” stop on the line, its small depot just a short walk from the Club’s first tee. The railroad is long gone, replaced by the Illinois Prairie Path, but the stone remnants of Glen Oak’s depot entrance remain and can be seen near the ninth hole tee box.
The Course Original architect Bendelow, known as the “Johnny Appleseed” of American golf, was brought back by Glen Oak to complete the 18-holes. A prolific architect who created Medinah Country Club No. 3 and East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, among many others, Bendelow’s design philosophy has been described as a “naturalist’s approach” in that he embraced and utilized a site’s natural features. Fellow naturalists William Langford and Theodore J. Moreau rebuilt the course in 1922. Later, Albert Tillinghast (1935), David Gill (1965) and Bruce Borland made alterations. More recently, Rick Jacobson was retained to keep the course up-to-par.
Legendary Names in Glen Oak Lore
“Lighthorse” Harry Cooper, a Brit, was the Club’s most renowned golf professional from 1930-1937. With an impressive 31 PGA wins, Mr. Cooper is often considered the “greatest golfer never to have won a major.” Only Vijay Singh has surpassed Cooper’s record of wins by a foreign- born tour player. Cooper and Bill Dawson, an accomplished amateur and long time Glen Oak member, competed in the 1934 inaugural Masters tournament.
Nicknamed because of his ruddy complexion, "Pinky" was one of the club’s most beloved caddies during the Cooper era. He is immortalized in the fountain statue near the Club’s entrance and the Club’s logo, a young caddie under an open golf umbrella. Both evoke the spirit and history of Glen Oak as well as the Club’s commitment to a thriving caddie program and walking golf.
The 1990’s - Today
Glen Oak’s stately clubhouse, built in 1924, was substantially remodeled in the 1990s. It retains its vintage charm but with modernized amenities. In 2004, the Club built the “Lodge,” a comfortable, casual building and home to Glen Oak’s avid skeet & trap shooting team. A large, wood burning fireplace is the Lodge’s center piece during the colder months, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere to have lunch, watch a game or gather with friends.
In 2016, the Club saw significant renovations with the construction of a brand new aquatic center. Infrastructure upgrades also brought in Lake Michigan water to the Club. A renovated veranda added unrivaled, outdoor dining space with stunning views of the course, and intimate seating around fire pits brought a resort-like feel to the Club. In 2021, Glen Oak installed a new water irrigation system and constructed a two-story complex featuring Paddle Tennis and Golf Simulators adding to year-round amenities and programming.
By providing a superior golf experience and exceptional recreational and social activities, Glen Oak fosters friendship and camaraderie for its members and guests. Since 1911 the club has not only endured, it has thrived.