GOLF, Illinois (Sept. 1, 2015) – Onwentsia Club in Lake Forest, Illinois, will host a Western Golf Association golf championship for the first time in more than a century when the 103rd Western Junior Championship is played there in 2020.
Since its creation by the Western Golf Association in 1914, the Western Junior has been a proving ground for future PGA TOUR stars, including past champions Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar also have competed in the Western Junior.
The Western Junior, the oldest national junior golf championship, has been played in more than 15 states and at several prestigious Chicagoland golf clubs, but never at Onwentsia, which was established in 1895.
The Onwentsia Club was among 11 charter clubs that established the WGA in 1899 to help spread the game of golf across the Midwest. A year later, the club hosted the second Western Amateur. The U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open also have been played at Onwentsia.
“Few golf clubs have the tradition and history of Onwentsia,” said Vince Pellegrino, the WGA’s Senior Vice President of Tournaments. “The club holds a special place in the history of the WGA, and we’re excited to bring this event and a field of the country’s best junior players to Onwentsia.”
Onwentsia’s beginnings trace back to 1893 when the club, known then as Lake Forest Golf Club, consisted of a diminutive seven-hole course in the yard of Sen. Charles B. Farwell. Players navigated flowerbeds and used sunken tomato cans for holes.
In 1895, the club moved to its current location on Green Bay Road and was given a new name – “Onwentsia,” an Iroquois word that means a meeting place of sporting braves and squaws.
The club hired Charles Blair Macdonald, who founded Chicago Golf Club, to design the first nine holes. The second nine were designed in 1898 by famed golf course architects Herbert J. Tweedie, James Foulis and Robert Foulis. The course was renovated by Tom Doak in 1996.
“As a founding member of the WGA, we welcome the opportunity to help carry on the tradition of the Western Junior Championship and host the finest junior players in the country,” said Jeff Walters, Onwentsia President.
Onwentsia also has been a steadfast supporter of the Evans Scholars Foundation, a nonprofit administered by the Western Golf Association that has awarded full college tuition and housing scholarships to more than 10,000 caddies since 1930.
Nearly 30 caddied at Onwentsia, beginning with Charles Van Etten, who earned an Evans Scholarship in 1952 to attend Northwestern University.
Onwentsia has also been a supporter of the WGA Caddie Academy, a program that provides female high school students from across the nation the opportunity to work at local golf and country cubs along Chicago’s North Shore.
The program allows its participants – with an emphasis on minorities and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds – an opportunity to experience the benefits of being a golf caddie, from learning life lessons to being around successful adults. Those who complete the program also will become eligible to apply for the Evans Scholarship.
Participating clubs in the Academy include Onwentsia, Conway Farms Golf Club, The Glen Club, Glen View Club, Indian Hill Club, North Shore Country Club, Northmoor Country Club and Westmoreland Country Club.
Other future sites for the Western Junior include Red Run Golf Club in Royal Oak, Michigan, in 2016, Park Ridge Country Club in Park Ridge, Illinois, in 2017, Evanston Golf Club in Skokie, Illinois, in 2018 and Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois, in 2019.