MISSION HILLS: Thoughts about my walk down memory lane

I found this interesting. My introduction to golf came at age 11 when my mother took me to Mission Hills, then a 27-hole public facility in Northbrook, IL., along with another mother and her son, who was about my age. We still lived on the northwest side of Chicago then and didn’t move to Palatine (actually then-unincorporated Inverness) until the following year.

Mission Hills was one of the older public courses then, having opened in 1926. I didn’t return to the place until about 1975, when the father-son architecture team of Larry and Roger Packard completely renovated the facility and turned it into what I believe to be Chicago’s first golf course community. It had 18 holes that weaved between high-rise condos, and the thinking then was that the housing was too close to the golf course in many places. Mission Hills became a private facility in the middle of a gated community shortly after its opening.

Fast forward to this week and a hot, humid mid-week day. Coupons arrived via email with an extraordinary offer — $25 for 18 holes with power cart at Mission Hills. This was a perfect time for a walk down memory lane.

Mission Hills had struggled economically as a private club in recent years and, like many others, took on public play after an ownership change last year. At that price it was a bargain. Though the clubhouse was undergoing some work, the course was in good condition. It was short and tight by today’s standards – I learned that only the No. 12 hole remained from the course I played my first round on – but the housing didn’t seem quite so close to the course as it did about 40 years ago.

What intrigued me was the price. What could the greens fee have been for my golf debut in 1955-56? My guess is about $25 — and this year the fee also included a power cart. They didn’t exist back then, of course. Golf was a walking game, and we walked this time. I could be wrong about the greens fee estimate, and welcome any more accurate appraisal, but the entire experience got me to thinking, at least a few things haven’t changed all that much over all these years.