Public Golf Does Not Get Any Better Than This – Mistwood Golf Club, Romeoville, IL
Midwest Golfing Magazine is thrilled to debut Preferred Properties, an inside look at the finest public courses we’ve been fortunate enough to play since our magazine was founded in 2003. The requirements for inclusion: a public course that elicits a private club feel, but doesn’t overcharge to do so. Plus, the word property is in the title so all entries must provide top-end amenities besides offering a memorable golf experience.
If you play enough golf courses you’ll start to realize that each course has a soul, a presence, or at the very least a feeling attached to it. And most times that description can be explained in one word or phrase.
At Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville, Illinois that one word is class. Thanks to the dedication, attitude, and vision of owner Jim McWethy, Mistwood has ascended to being one of the finest daily fee public courses in the Chicagoland area and the Midwest for that matter. And the heartbeat of that rise is the over 200 staff members that make class their mission 12 months a year.
“Our culture is very important to ALL members of the Mistwood team,” began McWethy. “Without our culture, we would still have a very fine golf course, but with it the overall EXPERIENCE is outstanding. I believe that my ‘culture’, which is also the Mistwood culture, is part experience and part hereditary. I worked for many years at a very successful industrial distribution business, which was started in 1920, by my grandfather. The business was very successful, and this success came from the simple idea of providing an outstanding experience for every customer all the time. I think I inherited some of his qualities, but I am also sure that working with him for over 20 years, and being around him for over 50 years, had an impact as well,” gleamed McWethy.
The par-72, 7,005 yard Ray Hearn design opened to the public in 1998 to rave reviews, but when McWethy purchased the property in 2003, he knew more could be done to bolster the Mistwood experience. In 2007, McWethy commissioned Hearn to analyze every hole and create a master plan to renovate the entire layout.
After three years of walking the property, Hearn came up with the perfect game plan in 2007. Then the economic downturn happened and all ideas were shelved. Still with much uncertainty, McWethy stuck to his guns and began a full-scale renovation in 2011. By 2014 Golf Magazine had named Mistwood “The Top Renovation of The Year.”
Everything about Mistwood (including their phenomenal logo) screams Scottish tribute. The three-year renovation project added 19 Scottish-style sod wall bunkers that give a unique style to the layout. Six holes play around a 65-acre lake (Loch St. James) and provide stunning visuals and shot values throughout. The par-3 14th requires a near 200 yard downhill shot over water while the par-5 15th is a 90 degree dogleg left with water running down the entire left side.
Besides thorough course changes, their 26,00- square-foot Scottish inspired clubhouse received a worthy addition as well. Mistwood’s 5,000-square-foot Performance Center is unrivaled in the Midwest, as – dedicated PGA Professionals offer custom fitting, club repair services and instruction year round. Plus, Mistwood is also home to the latest fitting technology the game has to offer including SAM Puttlab, TrackMan, and Quintic ball roll technology.
Andy Mickelson, Director of Golf at Mistwood, understands that his “office” is rare in the golf world. “The Performance Center is not only unique to the Chicagoland area, but is unique on a national scale,” began Mickelson. “I affectionately call the building a ‘Golfer’s Toys ‘r Us’ because it taps into what is fun and exciting about golf. The specific competitive advantage for club fitting is definitely the ability to fit in both an indoor and outdoor setting. Our club fitting bay, with the wonderful support of our partners like Callaway and TaylorMade, gives precise data using the top fitting tool on the PGA tour, Trackman. Plus, we have thousands of shaft head combinations to fit golfers of any ability. To top it off, a full service bar and restaurant within the Performance Center provides one of the best 19th hole experiences you’ll find anywhere,” beamed Mickelson.
The seeds of McWethy’s dream were planted early growing up in Palos Heights, a southwestern suburb of Chicago which is less than 20 miles from Romeoville and Mistwood Golf Club. “I grew up playing at public courses in the southwest suburbs of Chicago,” stated McWethy. “Occasionally, I enjoyed a special treat of playing Beverly, Flossmoor, or Olympia Fields. But, I did not join a private club until I was in my mid 40s. And, yes, my goal is exactly as you stated, to create a public venue that rivals, and in many cases, surpasses the experience at a private club,” concluded McWethy.
I mentioned this earlier, but the main reason Mistwood surpasses a private club experience is due to the unwavering excellence of their staff. From the bag boy who greets you upon arrival to the pro shop attendant who helps you pick out that perfect logo shirt, everyone at Mistwood acts in a way that it is evident they love their job and their venue. This reputation is not just known in the Chicagoland area according to McWethy.
“Our geographical spread is growing,” began the 74-year-old McWethy. “We are becoming a destination course. I have found that we are well known and appreciated by golfers all over northern Illinois, even members of pretty prestigious private clubs. And more and more, we are seeing groups from out of state coming to play Mistwood and to play several other rounds in the Chicago area. And, frequently, those courses included on the trip are private clubs,” beamed McWethy.
McWethy’s fertile mind is always in motion, continually asking the question, “What’s next?” When asked that query, McWethy’s answer was as original as he is. “Well, I have no immediate plans for the future, but that is exactly what I said six years ago, and there have been three new additions since then. So, stay tuned!” For more information on Mistwood GC, visit www.mistwoodgc.com.