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The Man Who Saved Ravisloe

March 23, 2009

Last month we blogged about Ravisloe Country Club, a 108-year-old private club (whose course was at least partially designed by Donald Ross) in the Chicago suburb of Homewood. Forced to close because of declining membership, Ravisloe was bought by a local veterinarian and self-described "land banker," Claude Gendreau, who immediately announced his intention to operate Ravisloe as a public course.

Former Chicago Tribune golf writer Ed Sherman has a more complete article today in his Chicago Business blog, including the explanation from Gendreau -- who isn't a golfer -- about why he decided to buy a golf course. Basically, he thought it was a beautiful piece of property. And he thought if more golfers had the opportunity to enjoy it, it had a chance to be successful.

"I don't like things that are exclusive," Gendreau told Sherman. "I don't like that this club was closed to the public for 108 years. It'll be nice to open it for more people."

For months, the smart people analyzing the overbuilt, oversaturated golf course industry have been predicting situations like this: private clubs going public. If other situations play out the way this one did, things can't be all bad.

-- G.R.