The Rich Harvest Farms course is situated 50 miles west of Chicago, very close to the Aurora Municipal Airport where golf club owner, the appropriately named, Jerry Rich can no doubt have any of his select number of members - only 50 in total – and guests jet in for a casual round whenever he would like some company on his course.
Ex-computer guru Rich used Augusta as his model when he first constructed 6 holes on his 1,500-acre farm at Sugar Grove. He designed a six-hole course at Rich Harvest Farms in 1990, with multiple tee boxes and pin positions so it could be played as 18 holes. When architect Greg Martin was called in to build a proper course, extra holes were added and Rich Harvest Links became the finished article in 1998.
Jerry Rich has never revealed how much it cost to build his private playground, preferring to avoid money matters and talk instead about his support for junior golf via the Hook a Kid on Golf Foundation chapter that he founded in Illinois.
Rich Harvest Farms is a hilly course where a lake, lagoons and a creek are part of the setup. It is configured in a traditional nine out and nine back formation and the par-72 design can be stretched by over a thousand yards from the shortest tees at 6,334 yards. Two driving ranges and a practice area complete the golfing facilities on site.
The LPGA chose the course to host the 11th staging of the Solheim cup in 2009. Says Rich, “I am more than pleased that the LPGA has chosen Rich Harvest Farms to host the 2009 Solheim Cup. Players and staff alike will experience one-of-a-kind hospitality and… will equally enjoy playing, what I think, is one of the best and most pristine new courses in the nation... The Solheim Cup and 2009 cannot get here soon enough.” Rich has agreed for half of the Solheim Cup profits to benefit Hook A Kid On Golf. Despite a fight back from Europe, drawing level with their hosts at 8-8 going into Sunday’s singles, United States retained the Solheim Cup with a 16-12 victory at Rich Harvest Farms.
Mark Rolfing, the NBC Sports golf commentator has played the course a number of times. He says “People can read about Rich Harvest Farms and see how it is quickly becoming one of the nation’s new gems, but until you get out there on those hills and see those lagoons, you have no idea of how demanding the course is… It is a very challenging but fair setup, and one that will make for great match play because of the inordinate number of risk and reward situations.”
Rich Harvest is a beautiful piece of property and well-maintained. The biggest knock against it is that 12 holes have blind views for watching your tee shot land. You are constantly just aiming at your caddies and while that might be ok for a few holes, it gets old after 10 holes. Very tough course to score on, but if you are in Chicago-area, worthy of playing to check off the list!
Rich Harvest Farms seems to be very polarizing among golf aficionados. Many of the larger publications have it ranked very highly. I disagree with its high position, but it is a very good golf course. There are some quirky holes but the overall experience is pretty special. If you go into it expecting a modern design and not something on par with one of the classical area courses, I don’t think you would be disappointed. Definitely worth playing if you can manage an invitation to one of the smallest membership clubs around.
There is no doubt that Rich Harvest Farms is a generous partner to many philanthropic causes. There is also no doubt that the golf course is challenging and almost always in terrific shape. I just find it uninteresting and very little fun.