Illinois golf course set to reopen after four years of closure

WINNEBAGO, Ill. – The old Westlake Village golf course is set to reopen this summer under a new name with new owners.

Brothers Steve and Scott Leathers purchased the 18-hole course on March 30 with the intention of restoring it to its former glory and renaming it Lynx Golf Course in Westlake Village. The course takes place in a small town between Rockford and Freeport, Illinois, about 90 miles west of downtown Chicago.

“The goal is for golf to open on August 1,” Steve Leathers said.

“The greens need to be redone. It’s really the only thing holding you back from playing golf. The greens are being renovated and reseeded.

The course closed four years ago after losing $135,000 a year for six years, Peter Beaves, owner of Midwest Irrigation and Swan Hills Golf, LLC., told the Register Star in 2018. Since then, the site of 131 acres has been converted to agricultural property. for hay production.

The course was designed in 1999 by David Esler, who also designed the Black Sheep Golf Club outside of Chicago, which is No. 8 in Illinois on Golfweek’s 2021 Best Private Golf Courses in every state.

The brothers bought Westlake Village for $550,000 and plan to invest a “significant” sum over the next five years. In return, they demand a 10-year tax abatement from Winnebago County.

In the first year the tax abatement rate would be 100%, but in the tenth year the rate would drop to 25%.

There are 172 lots that adjoin the golf course, according to aerial photos of 2021, 34 of them are vacant lots.

The number of vacant lots will soon decrease by one, as Leathers said, because he is in the process of buying one. He hopes that once the golf course reopens, it will continue to spur residential development.

The clubhouse, which has a new 25-by-67-foot deck in the back, is expected to reopen as early as June 1, Leathers said.

“So there will be outdoor seating for people to enjoy the weather,” he said. “The goal is to have music and bands here on the road.”

Leathers said it plans to hire eight full-time and seven part-time employees.

Leathers also plans to work with the Pecatonica and Winnebago school districts to make Lynx their home practice and competition course, similar to the old golf course before it closed.

The application for the tax abatement was approved 6-0 by the county’s economic development committee and is expected to go to Winnebago County Council for a vote Thursday night.

Chris Green: 815-987-1241, [email protected]; @chrisfgreen

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