A Little History on Bartlett Hills Golf Club

Bartlett Hills is proud to have hosted the inaugural Bill ‘Tik’ Tiknis Classic golf outing on Sunday, April 7th. This event, which was shared with the Village of Bartlett, was to commemorate longtime resident Bill Tiknis for his outstanding commitment to the community as well as being integral in leading the efforts for the purchasing of Bartlett Hills in 1978.

With over 80 golfers participating, Sunday was a beautiful spring day for golf, drinks, a nice lunch, and great speeches by head golf pro Bob Gavelek and Village Mayor Mike Airdo recognizing Tik. In the spirit of giving, a portion of each player’s entry fee was donated to a charity of Tik’s choice with over $600 raised for the Hanover Township Food Pantry.  We graciously thank all those who contributed and participated in this event and helped honor a Bartlett Hills icon.

Bartlett Hills looks forward to making this event a yearly occurrence and hope it continues to grow over the years.

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‘Tik’ (Pictured second from the right)

And now a nostalgic walk down memory lane about Bartlett Hills…

In 1920, the land now occupied by Bartlett Hills was still farmland. It probably was farmland back to the middle 1850’s when the first settlers from Germany came to Hanover Township.

Sometime in the early 1920’s, a group of Chicago businessmen decided to build a private club, which would include a golf course, equestrian facilities, and a swimming pool.

They chose Bartlett, a very small town in farm western Cook County as the location for their club. In Bartlett, they found a perfect spot, 143 acre farm owned by E.H. Glos, It had rolling terrain, an abundance of trees and was almost on a major roadway, Route 20 or more commonly known as Lake Street.

Charles Maddox, of the Maddox Golf Course Design and Construction Company was hired to design the course.

Mr Maddox had a great sense of humor, or was an avid card player. In his design, he created five distinctive greens, four in the shape of cards, a heart, a spade, a diamond and a club. The fifth was the famous or infamous 7th green, in the shape of a star. This green probably caused more golf anguish than any golf hole outside of Augusta National.

Changes to the course, including all new greens during the last few years have eliminated these “special greens”.

Mr Maddox was also responsible for the design of two area courses, Old Wayne and Stonehenge.

Construction on the golf course began in 1923, and supposedly it was complete in 1924. The earth moving operations were performed by horse drawn equipment and the strong backs of some local young men.

The plans called for a clubhouse to be built on the wooded hill area behind the current holes #1 and #11. Supposedly, the irrigation pond in front of the 12th tee was somehow to be used for swimming, or perhaps a pool was to be built in this area. No one knows for sure. The old barn, which was later used as a clubhouse, was to be a stable for the horse lovers in the club.

The entrance to the club was to be off of Lake Street (Route 20). There was an easement along the old 4th green, which went out to Lake Street. The easement was still in existence until the last few years, when the construction of new homes in the area caused it to be abandoned.

These plans for the private club were never developed, but Bartlett Hills still operated as a private club until the 1929 depression. Like so many other business at he time, the club failed, and reverted back to the Glos family in the early 1030’s. Ed and Harriet Glos operated the golf course until 1962.

They lived in an old farmhouse, which was on a hill near the old barn. This house came down after they sold the golf course in 1962. During the operation of the course, they gave jobs to many of the young men and women in town.

Because members of the group were growing older, and because of estate problems within the group, they decided to sell the course in 1973.  A small group of local men tried to buy it, but were unable to arrange the financing.

In early 1974, a land development company, Paramount Development corporation, approached the village with a plan to develop the golf course into a huge residential complex. The plan called for 1,851 residential units, which would house over 5,000 people.

The Village board at that time vigorously resisted this plan. Bill Tiknis, Village President, pointed out that while this plan was so detrimental to the community, it could be defeated, the next one might not be. At some point, the golf course would be lost. And naturally, Al Lehman’s group was anxious to sell, so the Village had pressure from both sides.

In 1974, the Bartlett Hills Preservation Commission was formed. This commission was charged with investigating ways for the Village to acquire the course. They checked on various funding sources-federal, state, foundations, and even joint efforts with other communities. Any plan which would allow the continued existence of Bartlett Hills. None of these efforts were successful.

In fact, in a strange development, the Streamwood Park District in July 1975 conducted a Streamwood referendum to buy Bartlett hills. Fortunately, this was rejected by their voters.

After much effort and hard work by out commission and the village board, it was determined that the only way we could accomplish our goal was to hold our own referendum. We would ask the people of Bartlett if they would agree to small increase in their taxes in order to buy the golf course.

So work began in 1977 to set up the machinery for a referendum.

In April of 1977, there was a change in administration of the village. Fortunately, the new board, headed by village president, Dick Belz, agareed with the direction we were heading and kept on with plans for the referendum. They worked hard and successfully to inform our citizens of the threat to our community.

The referendum was held on February 25, 1978 and passed almost 4 to 1-1, 129 for and 301 against. This referendum was for $1,9000,000- $1,7000,000 for the golf course and $200,000 for needed equipment and improvements.

On that great day in February, the people of Bartlett bought 143 acreas of green grass, trees, and open space. The fact that there was a golf course was incidental. Bartlett Hills was dedicated to the community on July 9, 1978.

After the village assumed ownership of the course, the village board formed a Bartlett Hills Golf Commission to assist in the management of the day to day operation of the course.

Dick Stilin, and some of his family who had been running the golf course for the previous owners left, and the commission’s first decision was to hire a golf professional. Bob Gavelek, who was the assistant pro at Elgin Country Club, was hired as our first and last golf professional. Bob is still General Manager today.

Doug Papp was hired as our grounds superintendent. After Doug Papp left, the commission hired Joel Purpur, an outstanding young man who did a lot to shape the development of the course. Unfortunately, we lost him to River Forest Country Club, where he is still employed.

John Gurke was hired after Joel, and did a fine job for us. He is currently at the Aurora Country Club. Our next Superintendent was Kevin DeRoo, who grew up in Bartlett. Kevin is still with us and is doing a great job, and the course shows it.

The old barn had been transformed into a clubhouse, and served as our clubhouse for many years. It became a focal point for social events, for great food and service and for fun. Many long lasting friendships were developed in the old barn.

Unfortunately, the old barn did not physically meet the standards set by our society today. A decision to demolish it and build a new clubhouse was made in 1995. The old barn came down on November 20, 1995. An era had come to an end.

But, with the end comes a new beginning. Construction of the new clubhouse began on January 18, 1996. It was completed the following year on April 21, 1997.

The Food & Beverage operation is managed by Paul Petersen as Food & Beverage Director, Mateo Ortiz as Executive Chef, Tony Staskewicz as Sous Chef, Mary Gearhart as Wedding & Event Director and Evan Blum, Banquet Assistant.

During the 25 years the village has owned Bartlett Hills, many improvements and changes have been made. In addition to the new clubhouse, a new maintenance building was built in 2002. Hundreds of new trees have been planted, all new greens have been built, cart paths, and irrigation system is in place, and bent grass fairways were put in. New equipment to maintain the course is constantly being updated. And now the clubhouse is updating its interior to better serve our community and surrounding communities for social events. Bartlett Hills has become one of the premier public courses in our area.

The investment the people of Bartlett made in 1978 has returned a fine golf course, a new clubhouse, and a source of revenue for Bartlett. But most importantly, it retained “143 acres of green grass, trees, and open space.”

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Excerpts from Bartlett Hills 25th Anniversary Event’s program.

Pam Rohleder/Bartlett Historical Society.

Introduction of Bill Tiknis Classic by Evan Blum.

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