The Course: Onwentsia Club
First imagined as a seven-hole golf course with sunken tomato cans for holes, Onwentsia developed into a prestigious club capable of challenging the best players in the world by 1895. The club played host to the 1899 U.S. Amateur won by H.M. Harriman, the 1900 Western Amateur won by William Waller, the 1906 U.S. Open won by Alex Smith and the 1915 U.S. Women’s Amateur won by Florence Vanderbeck.
A number of talented architects have contributed to the championship layout. Charles B. Macdonald designed the first nine holes in 1895, and Herbert J. Tweedie finished the second nine in 1898. Tom Doak did a subsequent golf course redesign.
Location: Lake Forest, IL
Architect: Charles Blair Macdonald (1895); Herbert J. Tweedie (1898)
Head Golf Professional: Nick Papadakes
Golf Course Superintendent: Scott Vincent
Championships Hosted: 1899 U.S. Amateur, 1900 Western Amateur, 1906 U.S. Open
2022: Naperville Country Club
Location: Naperville, IL
Architect: Tom Bendelow (1921)
Naperville Country Club will host its first Western Junior championship 100 years after opening as a nine-hole golf course with sand greens. Shortly after opening, renowned course architect Tom Bendelow came in to build a challenging 18-hole golf course on the 124-acre property.
Bendelow’s design remained intact until 2006, when architect Steve Forest completed a major course renovation. He focused on adding length to the golf course and developing new green complexes. The result is a difficult test of golf.
2023: Midlothian Country Club
Location: Midlothian, IL
Architect: Herbert J. Tweedie (1898)
Midlothian Country Club holds a special place in the history of the Western Golf Association and golf in America. One of the founding clubs of the WGA in 1899, Midlothian was one of the country’s first 18-hole golf courses. In its early days, it was one of the only golf clubs in the world to own its own railroad, which it used to ferry members the three miles between the club and Chicago.
The Herbert J. Tweedie design has hosted a number of prestigious professional and amateur events. Billy Casper won the 1969 and 1973 Western Opens at Midlothian, and Walter Hagen captured the 1914 U.S. Open. The club also hosted the 1901 Western Open and the 1901 and 1917 Western Amateurs. This will be Midlothian’s third Western Junior championship.
2024: Ruth Lake Country Club
Location: Hinsdale, IL
Architect: William B. Langford and Theodore J. Moreau (1922); Arthur Hills (2005)
Founded in 1922 by nine local businessmen, Ruth Lake Country Club – like Ruth Lake, which comes into play on multiple holes – was named for Linus Ruth, a Hinsdale native who died in World War I. Renowned architects William B. Langford and Theodore J. Moreau designed the classic 18-hole layout, and Arthur Hills oversaw a restoration in 2005. Drew Rogers did a bunker renovation in 2019-2020.
At 6,700 yards from the championship tees, the par 71 layout will test the field. Ruth Lake Country Club has hosted a number of championships and qualifiers for the PGA TOUR Champions, LPGA and USGA, including qualifiers for the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open and U.S. Mid-Am.