Fun atmosphere the goal at Girard golf course
By Kathleen Clark
GIRARD (May 3, 2018) – On the west side of Girard is a golf course that has been a part of the community for nearly 100 years. Residents have fond memories not just of the nine-hole course with its lake and scenic vistas, but also of visiting, fishing and enjoying the lazy weekends of a Midwestern summer there.
Last year, the Oak Leaf Country Club closed its doors. The future of the place was uncertain until Pat and Kristi McLean of Girard took over ownership this spring. Now the course, Oak Hills Country Club and Winery LLC, is taking on a whole new life. In recent years, the course operated as a semi-private venue, open to the public only on certain days. Now, the course has memberships available but is open to the public every day.
Kristi McLean says, “This place has been a community staple for a long time. We want to have an open and friendly atmosphere that is family centered, we hope to get the families back out here.” McLean looks forward to getting kids involved at the course. “We have to have kids out here, we want to give them every opportunity to get outside we can. We want it to be a fun, social place to be.” To aid in that goal, there is an open junior golf league for fourth through 12th graders and kids golf free with a paid adult on Mondays. McLean says members will be able to fish at the course’s lake and there could even be some bank fishing tournaments held for youth in the future.
Oak Hills will host not just the junior league, but a complete lineup including a men’s and women’s league as well. So far, McLean reports interest has been fantastic and the leagues are filling up quickly. A number of tournaments will be held throughout the year too.
The McLeans are in the midst of an extensive renovation of the clubhouse, which will soon be home to a winery and restaurant. “We are still looking for a chef, and have been visiting with wine suppliers,” says McLean. Something that will be unique to this Midwestern Illinois course is the nearly 500 grape vines that have been planted around the course. McLean says they will try their hand at producing a signature label as soon as their grapes are ready but will turn to other wines, many of them local, for the time being.
The most notable change in the dining portion of the clubhouse will be a new cherry wood bar that extends the length of the east wall and offers a sunny view of the golf course, pond and wrap-around porch. “We saw this porch and thought it would be the perfect setting for outside entertainment,” says McLean.
The improvements won’t stop there. McLean says they will soon have an additional outdoor venue area that will include an event tent and seating among a collection of fire pits. There will be a pro shop and a video gaming room.
“It’s been good seeing people out having fun,” says McLean, “Some people have been coming out every day, and a few even come out twice a day.” She is happy to be able to provide a place for people to get together and get outdoors.
One frequent golfer is Nathan Jones of Girard. He often meets with John Huxtable of Virden for an early morning trek around the course. “I’m happy to have the course here,” says Jones, who started golfing at the urging of Huxtable about seven or eight years ago when Jones was in his sixties. He often golfs a round in the morning and another in the afternoon. He says he is thankful for a course close to home.
The Oak Hills Golf course is located 18698 Country Club Road, Girard and the phone for the clubhouse is (217) 627-4103.