One of the city’s two courses, Fox Valley CC, has been closed while awaiting legal decisions about its proposed sale so it can become a senior housing development. Officials at the city’s remaining course, Phillips Park, say it has picked up some players from Fox Valley, but others have taken their business to other municipalities.
The golf course at Fox Valley Country Club in Aurora, Ill. is closed, the Chicago Tribune reported, caught in a somewhat sad state of limbo, awaiting its fate.
Final details of the city of Aurora’s sale of the 106-acre tract of land to a Michigan-based firm, with plans to build a housing development for seniors, are still being debated in court, the Tribune reported. The property also features a banquet hall, and the company with that lease has claims that are being contested.
Meanwhile, several miles south, life goes on as usual at Philips Park Golf Course as Aurora’s remaining course, the Tribune reported.
“It’s a real loss to me,” Mark Vanderway said of having to now work at Phillips. A retiree, Vanderway is in his fourth year working part-time as a course ranger for the city. This is his first year at Phillips after three at Fox Valley, the Tribune reported.
“I live about 250 yards behind the second green [at Fox Valley],” he said. “I had one stop sign and two quick right turns and I was at work.”
And his son Ryan, now 15, used to walk to the course to practice, Vanderway told the Tribune. Last year as a freshman, Ryan Vanderway earned Player of the Year honors in helping to lead West Aurora High School to the Upstate Eight Valley conference’s boys’ golf title.
“[Phillips] is too far for him to ride a bike, carrying a golf bag, and he doesn’t have his license yet,” the elder Vanderway said. “It’s a shame for us to see it close, but I guess change is inevitable.
“And let’s face it, most of the people of Aurora are probably not golfers, so if it isn’t making money, it’s pretty hard to argue for the city to be in the golf business there,” Vanderway added.
Bill Russ, another retiree and 11th-year ranger, is also in his first season at Phillips Park, the Tribune reported.
“I’ve seen a lot of familiar faces out here,” Russ said. “But we’ve lost a lot of guys from [Fox] Valley who don’t come here.”
Jeff Schmidt, the city’s PGA pro who oversees golf operations, said it will take at least a year to fully understand what Fox Valley’s closing will mean to Phillips Park.
“Our play has increased a little bit,” Schmidt told the Tribune. “Some Fox Valley regulars have transitioned over here, but I can’t put a number on it.
“We’ve lost some who played there, too,” Schmidt added. “I think the tollway [Interstate 88] has long been kind of a dividing line for golf in the Fox Valley region. I think many of the golfers who live in [other western Chicago suburbs such as] St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia and North Aurora and who played at Fox Valley are now turning to courses like Mill Creek [Golf Club, Geneva, Ill.], Settler’s Hill [Golf Course, Batavia, Ill.] and Valley Green [Golf Course in North Aurora, Ill.] as much or more than to us at Phillips.”
The impact will also be felt on Aurora’s City Tournament, scheduled for July 16-17 this year as a flighted, 36-hole stroke-play event, the Tribune reported. Previously a 72-hole event held over two weekends, with two rounds at each course, both rounds will now be played at Phillips Park.