While golf, tennis, swim, and private country clubs started coming onto the scene around the Barrington area as long as a century ago, they are far from extinct. Both public and private clubs remain a vibrant and relevant part of the social fabric of our communities today. In 1921, Barrington Hills Country Club established the first such private institution in our community. Originally built for the owners of gentleman’s farms, who wanted clubhouses reminiscent of their own country estates, area clubs have been offering differing versions of the “club” experience.
Club membership remains an integral part of the Barrington lifestyle—even with the ever-evolving priorities and desires of
the Millennial and younger generations. Many of these younger families grew up here, moved to Chicago or away somewhere for a time, and are now moving back to raise their families. Generations young and old continue to value the ability to gather, connect, and play at a club where everyone knows their name. And, for some, the status of a country club membership still means they’ve “made it.”
Each club within our sprawling geographic footprint offers its own distinct personality, set of amenities, and price point. Some are private and exclusive with an initiation process (often veiled in secrecy) and commensurate fees. Others pride themselves on being open to the public with modest membership and greens fees. Some focus on swim and tennis only, enabling more families to belong to a “club” and for kids to take advantage of tennis, swim team, and summer camps and for parents to socialize. One club offers boating, and fishing on its own private lake. Another is alcohol free with a singular focus on the game of golf. Yet another was home to Michael Jordan when he played for the Chicago Bulls. Golf greats the likes of Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer have played at other area clubs.
In recent years, many clubs have added things like paddle tennis and pickleball to their sporting activities, developed wine clubs, relaxed their dining dress codes, integrated apps and technology, and offered more casual and creative dining options (like farm-to-table and locally sourced produce and meat). Many continue to enhance their junior golf, tennis, swim, and camp programs, a plus for families who want their children to engage in meaningful summer activities and perhaps develop a taste for belonging to a club.
No matter what your family’s goals and budget may be, there seems to be a club for everyone.
Here is Country’s roundup of public and private clubs around the Barrington area:
BARRINGTON HILLS COUNTRY CLUB
Amenities: Golf, tennis (8 Har-Tru clay courts), paddle tennis (with paddle hut), junior golf program, skeet shooting from November to March, social events, wine club, “city caliber” dining, “men’s-only” locker and dining room.
Fees: $$$ – $$$$ depending on level of membership
Inside Scoop: Affectionately referred to as “a club in the country,” this is the oldest, most traditional country club in Barrington. It was originally built for the owners of gentleman’s farms. Back in the day, the club offered horse jumping and fox hunting. The golf course was designed by Golden Age golf architect George O’Neill and restored in recent years by Tom Doak. Considered by some to have “the best greens in the Chicago area,” the club periodically hosts the U.S. Open Qualifier. A little known fact is that Barrington Hills Country Club has been hosting the Barrington Play-Reading Group since 1942. BHCC is a very private and exclusive club, with membership “by invitation from a club member,” sponsors, seconders, and letter writers prior to board approval.
300 W. County Line Road Barrington Hills 847-381-4200 barringtonhillscc.com
BILTMORE COUNTRY CLUB
Amenities: Golf, tennis (4 Har-Tru clay courts, 2 asphalt, lighted courts), pool, beach, lake, boating, fishing in a fully stocked lake, and winter ice fishing. Full junior golf program, two ladies leagues, and organized golf events. Extensive social calendar. Wine Club, featuring wine lockers, monthly wine dinners, and the annual Grand Fall Wine Tasting event. Brews its own Biltmore Bog beer. App for members. Farm to table, locally sourced dining program. Herb garden on site.
Fees: $$ – $$$$, depending on level of membership
Inside Scoop: In addition to its extensive golf and tennis programs, Biltmore is unique for the fishing, boating, and swimming in its privately owned Honey Lake (it is one of only two clubs in the Chicago area with its own private lake and cabana area). It is also a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary consistently recognized with the Audubon International Award for its aesthetically pleasing grounds. Members enjoy the lovely terraced outdoor patio with heaters and patio lights along with a recently renovated clubhouse and an 18-hole golf course. Membership to this private club requires application with two sponsors, attendance at a membership committee meeting, and approval by the board of directors.
THE CLUB AT WYNSTONE
Amenities: Premier golf experience, tennis (4 Har-Tru courts, 2 hard), pickleball, swimming program, year-round clubhouse and dining facili- ties, wine club, and lockers. Extensive social activity calendar, including family events and the popular annual Progressive Dinner (usually preceded by cocktail parties at member homes).
Inside Scoop: The centerpiece of the club is the Jack Nickalus Signature Design golf course, which has been ranked as one of the “Best Courses in Illinois” by Golf Digest. Nicklaus visited the club in 2011; only 30 of his 450 courses are designated as Signature Courses. Characteristics of Nicklaus’ strategic design elements are very prevalent, with elevated tees and large greens protected by deep bunkers. Wynstone’s golf course was home to Michael Jordan when he played for the Chicago Bulls. Membership is by invitation only and requires approval of the ownership group.
One South Wynstone Drive North Barrington 847-304-2800 wynstone.org/golf
FARMINGTON BATH & TENNIS
Amenities: Aquatics (swimming lessons, swim, dive and water polo teams, clinics, and adult lap swim). Tennis, private tennis lessons, junior lessons, men’s and women’s leagues as well as Men’s Pro Am. Social program and activities.
Inside Scoop: Reasonably priced family-oriented club offering swim, tennis, and social activities. Singles, families, couples, and retired memberships available.
INVERNESS GOLF CLUB
Amenities: Golf, tennis (Har-Tru courts), swimming, dining, and social activities. Winter ice skating, cross country skiing, and sledding in winter.
Inside Scoop: Known for rolling terrain and slippery greens, the original golf course was later updated by golf course architect Brent Wadsworth under the watchful eye of Arthur Hills. Inverness boasts a French provincial style clubhouse in a Camelot-like setting among large trees and ponds, with the Salt Creek flowing throughout the property. Private member-owned club with membership by invitation only.
102 N. Roselle Road, Inverness 847-358-2340 invernessgolfclub.org
KEMPER LAKES GOLF CLUB
Amenities: Golf, dining, junior golf program, and social activities. Specialty dinners, wine pair- ings, farm-to-table dinners, music nights, annual Wine Tasting in November featuring vineyards from around the world. Currently adding an additional dining room and new technology.
Fees: $ – $$
Inside Scoop: Known for the difficulty of its golf course, where members continually test them- selves and where the golf course never plays the same way twice, especially the final three holes, which members refer to as “The Gauntlet.” The club has hosted numerous championships over the years including the Men’s PGA Championship in 1989 and the Women’s PGA Championship in 2018. Golf greats Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Annika Sorenstam, Greg Norman, Hale Irwin, and the 1989 PGA Champion, Payne Stewart have played at Kemper Lakes.
24000 N. Old McHenry Road, Kildeer 847-320-3450, kemperlakesgolf.com
LAKE BARRINGTON SHORES COUNTRY CLUB
Amenities: Golf, driving range, putting green, pro shop, restaurant.
Inside Scoop: Tucked within the Lake Barrington Shores community, this unassuming and friendly golf club and course offers a clubhouse with full dining, beverage service, and special holiday events. Men’s and women’s golf leagues play weekly.
40 Shoreline Road, Lake Barrington 847-382-4240 lbsg.com
MAKRAY MEMORIAL GOLF CLUB
Amenities: 18-hole golf course completely remodeled and reopened in 2005 after being renamed for its late founder Paul Makray. Also known for its banquet and wedding venue that can accommodate up to 250 people.
Inside Scoop: Originally founded in 1962 as Thunderbird, Makray prides itself on being a “public golf club with a private club experience.” The public is welcome to enjoy the golf course (with its continuous golf cart path), the restau- rant, and events (like its summer music series and Easter and Mother’s Day brunches). Makray has been hosting the Illinois State Junior Amateur championship every June for more than a decade.
1010 S. Northwest Highway Barrington
SOUTH BARRINGTON CLUB
Amenities: Extensive tennis program with indoor and outdoor courts (hard and clay), platform tennis with full-service hut, aquatics program starting at 6 months of age, group and private lessons, fitness program and private trainers, badminton, childcare, social activities.
Inside Scoop: Offering country club appeal in a family atmosphere for 50 years, this club began as a tennis club and has evolved and expanded over the years to add numerous indoor and outdoor courts, a fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools, paddle tennis and accompanying paddle hut. While it is a part of the South Barrington Park District, it retains private club-level amenities and atmosphere.
3 Tennis Club Lane South Barrington 847-381-2570 sbpd.net/club
STONEHENGE GOLF CLUB
Inside Scoop: This club prides itself on being a traditional golf club in the truest sense. It was designed by golf course architect Charles Maddox on a great beautiful piece of park land property in North Barrington horse country. Privately owned by its members, it offers only the game of golf, some dining options, and no alcohol whatsoever. It doesn’t even have a website. The club does not offer outings or leagues so that the course is always available to its members.
27250 Route 22 Barrington 847-381-8600
Key to Fees:
$$: $5,000 – 20,000
$$$: $20,000 – 30,000
$$$$: $30,000 and above