Course and building renovations have resumed at the venerable Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Kildeer for the new season.
The improvements aim to put Kemper Lakes on par with other Chicago-area courses as a potential PGA Tour venue.
A new pro shop with bag storage, fitting rooms and a self-serve kiosk is part of an addition to the clubhouse getting underway. The project will include a covered, open-air dining/relaxation space for three seasons, equipped with heaters and fans, and overlooking lakes toward the 17th green — the course’s signature hole.
A kitchen expansion and remodel of the snack bar at the turn is part of a full menu of ongoing work to buildings and the course itself.
“This is an extension of the project we did in 2019, and it’s a culmination of the master plan with the on-course work and facilities for the members,” said John Hosteland, general manager.
In 2019, a wall was removed and the dining area of the clubhouse enlarged and renovated to include a 1,400-bottle, temperature-controlled wine room and the addition of two golf simulators for the off-season.
About 400 guests attended Easter brunch last weekend at the remodeled facility, Hosteland said.
The focus this season will be on bricks and mortar, but substantial upgrades to the course have been ongoing.
Portions of the course are being modernized to enhance playability and visual appeal, and to provide options for all skill levels, Hosteland said.
Upgrades last fall included six new fairway bunkers and four championship tees, as outlined in the club’s master plan penned about 10 years ago.
Four championship tees scheduled to be completed this year will close out the tee work proposed in the master plan to achieve a championship course length of 7,600 yards.
Seven forward tees to make the course more family-friendly were completed last fall, Hosteland added.
Hosteland said the golf course renovations were not targeted for a specific event but have created a venue for the PGA Tour “that is as good or better than any other layout in the Chicagoland area.”
“We have a great championship golf course. We’re ready (for) what opportunities are next,” he said.
Kemper opened at 24000 N. Old McHenry Road in 1979 as the vision of insurance executive Jim Kemper Jr. It was designed by renowned architects Ken Killian and Dick Nugent, and features a dramatic layout with expansive lakes and other natural elements.
Kemper, Olympia Fields and Medinah are the only three Illinois courses since 1934 to have hosted a major championship. Kemper hosted the 1989 PGA Championship, won by the late Payne Stewart. It most recently hosted the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in 2018.
The club also has been the site of more than a dozen other pro, senior and amateur events. Legendary champions to have played at Kemper include Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman and Annika Sorenstam.
Kemper Lakes became a private facility in 2007. There are about 267 full golfing memberships, which includes access to all club events, and 130 dining memberships, Hosteland said. The initiation fee is $10,000, not including monthly due.
Since 2019, Kemper has been managed by Troon Golf, which owns or operates about 600 properties worldwide. Troon Privé Clubs members have access to private golf courses and other amenities.