over 100 years of tradition, family, and excellence
In the over one hundred years of the Club's prosperous existence, Champaign Country Club has grown to become the premier country club in Champaign, serving as a home away from home for generations of families and friends. While many things have evolved over the decades, the myriad of memories associated with everyday fun, exceptional golf, celebrations with friends and family, and lifelong friendships remain at the foundation of the Club today.
The Early Days
In October 1904, members of the Champaign Golf Club met with other civic leaders to formulate a plan to start a country club. Within a few weeks, more than 100 charter members had joined the newly formed Champaign County Country Club. Although golf was the thread that tied these members together, the goal was for the Country Club to serve as a social hub for gathering and activities, as well as a golf club.
The Club founders decided on 40 acres of the Chester farm on South Prospect Avenue. According to records, “the gently rolling ground, the grove of venerable walnut trees, and the stately, elm-lined drive to the house were the principal attractions which led the newly organized club to choose the site it did.” The Chester estate featured a large farmhouse, which was planned location for the new Club headquarters. A year later, the formal opening on the new Clubhouse was held on July 4, 1905, with a putting contest, tennis games, clock golf, fireworks, and dancing. In the next few years, a dance hall, tennis courts, croquet courts, and a bowling alley were to the Club’s social activities.
Tom Bendelow, one of America’s pioneer golf course architects, designed the 9 hole layout on 40 acres of the E.O. Chester farm. The original nine holes boasted sand greens, unwatered fairways, and cornfields and pastures to the North and South. An additional purchase of 60 acres in 1923 allowed for the construction of the 18 hole course, under the guidance of Willie B. Still, Scotch professional. It was completed for play in the spring of 1925 and featured an increase in greens fees from $1.50 per day.
Surviving & Thriving…
The next ten years included the golf course additions of a Pro Shop, practice green, golf carts, locker rooms and a practice range. A swimming pool, the first in the county, was built and the first aquatic activities at the Club were offered. Though the Depression’s economic loss and unemployment brought financially tough times for the Club, with sacrifice and creative thinking on behalf of the membership and staff alike, the Club was financially sound again by 1936. From there, the social scene picked up and membership grew to 500. The 1950’s brought even more prosperity and Club improvements included a grille and bar, bath house, updated kitchen, women’s locker room, new dining room, and the iconic circular drive was constructed.
In December 1960, the name of the Club was changed from Champaign County Country Club to Champaign Country Club to bring it into agreement with the group’s by-laws regarding members living within county lines. Clubhouse improvements and renovations continued as membership growth was also steady. In the 1970’s the membership roster of 632 represented several generations of many families, a special characteristic of the Club’s membership that is still thriving today.
Fast forward to 1990, the Club President and Board of Directors proposed an plan to build a new Clubhouse with a plea stating “We have a long and distinguished tradition and the reputation of being a premier Club in our community and throughout the Midwest. As we look toward the next century, it is imperative that the Club be able to meet the expectation of it’s members.” With support of the membership, and patience during construction, the new 36,000-square-foot state-of-the-art Clubhouse opened in May 1992.
From Then to Now…
In 2004, the Club celebrated a century of tradition with a Centennial Celebration, honoring the generations of loyal members and employees whose commitment to excellence allowed for the historical celebration. Most recent Clubhouse renovations in 2014, pool and pool complex renovations in 2015, continually golf course improvements, and steady membership efforts, has allowed the Club to continue to thrive today. Thanks to the strong leadership of committed Board members, the dedication of loyal employees, and the active participation of its members, the Champaign Country Club has withstood challenges of the past century and looks forward to a bright future.
Today, the Club’s 450 members enjoy the championship 18-hole golf course and practice facilities, Clubhouse and grille, three pools and poolside grille, Har-Tru clay tennis courts, state-of-the-art fitness center, dynamic youth programs, and year-round social events. Just like the early days of the 1900’s, the Club’s membership, made up of generations of friends and families, is what makes the Club a place unlike any other.