Originally designed by Arnold Palmer Design Group, White Eagle Golf Club is located on approximately 163 acres. There are three nine - hole courses; holes 1 through 9 are referred to as the Red Course and holes 10 through 18 are the White Course. Holes 19 through 27 were developed at a later date and are referred to as the Blue Course.
The first of the three nines to open was the White Course in August 1989. The first few weeks that the club was open, members had to play the White nine twice to get in an 18 - hole round.
The 13th hole, which appears to have the most mature trees today, was the first hole on the golf course to be finished. The 1988 Cavalcade of Homes featured model homes on the 1400 and 1500 block of White Eagle Drive, backing to the 13th hole. So this was finished in the early Spring, several months before the rest of the golf course was open.
Arnold Palmer played a ceremonial first round on August 7, 1989 with then head pro Kent Sirois and several local dignitaries and friends of Harold Moser. During that round, Sirois eagled the par five 15th hole by holing out a wedge. Arnold eagled the 17th hole, after he struggled on the 16th hole.
According to an August 30, 1992 Chicago Sun Times article
|“When Arnold Palmer stepped up to the par-3 16th tee for the first time August 7, 1989, the course`s designer discovered something most members already knew: this is not your typical par - 3.
Palmer`s first drive, a one - iron on the 220 - yard hole, fell considerably short of the green. Pulling out a 3-wood, Palmer`s second tee shot found a small lake which borders on the right. His third and final try, another 3 - wood, found a greenside bunker.
``I think I made this hole too long,`` Kent Sirois recalled hearing Palmer joke.
The Red nine opened a few weeks later, in September 1989. In July 1992, it was announced that a third nine holes was under consideration. That course opened in 1995.
Twenty - five years later, and the course remains relatively the same as it was originally designed. Palmer’s vision was a links style golf course based upon the prevailing wind.
Because Harold Moser was selling homes, and home buyers preferred trees versus tall fescue grasses that “looked like weeds,” hundreds of trees were planted and the course developed into more of a traditional golf course.
Within a couple of years of the opening, fairway bunkers were added to the 4th hole and the 18th hole to catch errant tee shots. The fairway on the 18th hole was raised after the original design. The back teebox on the 12th hole was not in the original plan and was added later.
The 20th hole used to have a waterfall next to the green that included bricks and cement, but the design never worked and was removed.
The bunker on the 25th hole near the green was added to help catch errant shots that fell off into the water hazard. Golfers today are still happy to be in that bunker.
The back teebox on the 26th hole was not part of Arnold Palmer’s design. When Palmer came to open the course, then pro Kent Sirois said “that’s not your tee.” Spectators began to chide Palmer and Sirois, saying “come on, hit it from there…” Palmer and Sirois both used their drivers to hit the green and make par. This shot measures to be over 250 yards.
The original design of the 27th hole was a tighter fairway than what exists today. Fill was brought into the water known as Fawn Lake to widen the golf hole.
A walking bridge off the island 18th green towards the clubhouse was added and named the Adlfinger Bridge, after former member and club champion Tim Adlfinger who passed away.
White Eagle Golf Club Course Records
Men’s Course Records
Red to White rotation – Championship “Gold” Tees ( 7,211 yards )
67 TIGER WOODS ( 7/2/1995 )
Red to White rotation – Regular “Blue” Tees ( 6,678 yards )
64 RON POTTER ( 9/13/1998 )
White to Blue rotation – Regular “Blue” Tees ( 6,586 yards )
64 ERIC STIEGEL ( 8/17/2011 )
Ladies Course Records
Red to White rotation – professional ( 6,274 yards )
65 MARTA FIGUERAS-DOTTI ( 8/13/1993 )
STEPHANIE MAYNOR ( 8/14/1993 )
KATIE PETERSON-PARKER (8/18/1994)
ROBIN WALTON (8/21/1994)
Red to White rotation – amateur (5,052 yards)
71 BRITTANY PULS (8/22/2006)
From building a golf club out of a corn field to hosting world famous celebrities, Jim Nicholson has fond memories of his “great adventure” at White Eagle Golf Club. “It was a once in a lifetime experience,” he said. “It was a great adventure building the club from scratch. It was a fun time, a stressful time, but always interesting.”
Like so many of the club’s early staff, Jim was brought in by Harold Moser. He had worked his way up to manager at Cress Creek and jumped at the chance to run the new facility.
“When Mr. Moser decided to build White Eagle he asked me if I wanted to be involved and of course I said yes,” he said. “He was a great individual. He had a far reaching insight into people, trends and the economy.”
Like any business, the club started small. Initially there were 100 members, but the number grew to more than a thousand golf and social members over the next 10 years. “The operating costs were huge and being a young club we had to grow it,” he said.
They grew it in part by getting White Eagle onto the golf club map. They played host not only to the LPGA but hosted the CGA Chicago Classic from 1995 to 1997. “The Celebrity Golf Classic was a great way to grow the club. It gave us a lot of media exposure,” Jim explained. “It really helped establish us.”
Celebrities included basketball Michael Jordan, soap star Jack Wagner and Bears Coach Mike Ditka. “Jordan was very tall and a very strong presence,” Jim said.
Someone else who got involved was Naperville Mayor George Pradel. “During one tournament we had huge tents outside the kitchen in the parking lot where we cooked hot dogs and burgers; The mayor came out and grilled some burgers for us. He was having a grand old time.”
Nicholson retired in 2005 and was followed by Jeff Cohen from 2006-2009. Our current General Manager is Paul Geallis who has an excellent background and fine reputation to carry on the tradition.
How WEGC developed into an outstanding facility…
Ray Schei was White Eagle’s first golf course Superintendent from 1988 to 1990. Gil Valesquez was hired in 1990 until his retirement in 2010.
“An exciting and challenging time” is how Valesquez describes his move from Cress Creek to White Eagle Golf Club in 1990. When White Eagle Golf Course was ready, Harold Moser knew exactly who he wanted to look after it. The same man who had supervised his previous course for 22 years.
“We had to put a lot of drainage in. It was an exciting time. Cress Creek was flat where this is not,” he recalled.
As Course Superintendent, Valesquez was responsible for everything from making sure the greens were cut every day to planting trees and keeping bunkers at their best.
“It was meant to be a links course, but Mr. Moser asked for evergreens to be planted,” he said. “I believe it was because the homeowners asked for them. We planted a lot along Route 59 to help reduce the noise.”
The original design called for a “links course” without trees, which included high fescue grasses. Because Moser’s primary business was to sell homes, the early feedback was that homebuyers wanted lush landscaping and did not want to view grasses that looked like weeds. As a result, Macom planted 1,500 trees including oak, ash, maple, hawthorn, Scotch pine, Norway spruce, redbud, cherry and flowering crab apples.
In 2010, Jim Canning became Golf Course Superintendent. Under his supervision and expertise, the course is in better condition now than it has ever been. New sophisticated equipment has been added, as well as modern golf course maintenance and applications to the grounds.
In Addition to Golf...
White Eagle Golf Club has centered its life around its golf course, yet has kept current with today’s lifestyle of family oriented activities. Swimming has been a part of WEGC’s activities since 1990.
WEGC member Beth Pojman reminisces, “Many traditions have continued over the 25 years; the DJ Party, the Pasta Parties and Parades before the big meet for the seniors, and the celebration banquet at the end.”
“The swim team had a high of 250 participants aged 4 to 18. In the beginning, the team was capped and people lined up at three in the morning to get their kids on the team in certain age groups,” recalls Pojman. White Eagle Club’s swim team currently has approximately 150 members.
In 1998, the team won the Naperville City Championship. Many swimmers have gone on to swim in college, Olympic Trials, and international meets.
White Eagle swimmer Kevin Cordes was the NCAA Swimmer of the Year in 2013 and 2014, and is the current American record holder in the 100 and 200 - meter breaststroke ( short course ) as well as the 100 and 200 - yard breast stroke. Many of his records in the WEGC pool still stand today.