An overview of the Onwentsia Club.

The Onwentsia Club takes its origins from a small seven hole course laid out in the lawn of Senator Charles B. Farwell's (located where Lake Park is today) in 1893.  This short course was laid out by Mr. Chatfield-Taylor, husband to Mrs. Rose Farwell Chatfield-Taylor, between the flowerbeds and trees using sunken tomato cans for holes.  This diminutive course was known as the Lake Forest Golf Club. 
It became so popular that by the end of the summer of 1893 everyone involved realized that it was too congested and something had to be done.  Mr. Chatfield-Taylor felt nothing was too good for his wife so in the spring of 1894 he arranged with Mr. Leander McCormick to let the Lake Forest Golf Club put nine holes on the eastern portion of his farm.  This is the current location of Lake Forest Country Day School at the corner of Green Bay and Onwentsia Roads.

The course installation was no big deal since it had no bunkers.  It's hazards were, mainly, the trees it wound between, Mr. McCormick's sheep and a large pond in front of the first tee. The golfers felt that not only were the holes uninteresting but the Chicago and Northwestern noisy steam trains passed so near them on the second hole that they were very annoying. In additional the only Clubhouse - a deserted sheep shed - was most unsatisfactory. 
Again, Mr. Chatfield-Taylor galvanized into action. This time he was assisted by the McCormicks, Farwells, Byron Smith, Alfred L. Baker and Albert Dick. They decided that this time they would choose a permanent site and create a quality situation.
As a part of this the name - Lake Forest Golf Club - was changed to an Iroquois name Mr. Chatfield-Taylor selected - Onwentsia. This name meant a meeting place - in the country - of sporting braves and squaws. Because the Indian name covered it, it would have been redundant to call it "Country Club".  So-from its inceptions-it was simply called Onwentsia.
The group identified the 175-acre farm of Mr. Henry Ives Cobb to be the site of Onwentsia. Mr. Chatfield-Taylor-by now the Club's first president-went about seeing to it that everything that was done was first class. The Club hired Robert Foulis - one of the three Foulis brothers - to be the Golf Professional. Much more noteworthy was the golf course architect they retained to put in the first nine holes the course consisted of in 1895.  This was Charles Blair Macdonald.

The First Summer

Map of Lake Forest showing the locations of the three golf courses described above.


  • 1893 - Seven hole golf course is laid out in Senator Farwell's lawn - Lake Forest Golf Club
  • 1894 - Lake Forest Golf Club moves to corner of Green Bay and Onwentsia Road with nine holes
  • 1895 - Onwentsia is organized and moves to present location
  • 1899 - US Amateur 
  • 1906 - OC hosts US Open
  • 1914 - OC hosts the International Lawn Tennis Challenge - Australia plays Canada
  • 1927 - Lindeburg selected to design Clubhouse
  • 1928 - current Clubhouse opens on November 3rd

Onwentsia Club

50th Anniversary Celebration Program