Fore! Sight: Golf Course Purchase Doubles Lebanon Campus Acreage
Rarely does a University have an opportunity to double its size overnight but McKendree has done just that. The purchase of Locust Hills Golf Course increased the Lebanon, Ill., campus property from 125 acres to 236.
The 18-hole course, built in 1933 and one of Illinois’s oldest, lies a few blocks from campus. One of its fairways is adjacent to the McKendree West student apartment complex on College Road.
“This major investment provides us with long-term flexibility for future development,” said Dr. James Dennis, president. The Board of Trustees made the investment as part of its overall strategic plan for the university. No tuition dollars, scholarship dollars or operating support dollars were used for the $1.4 million acquisition.
The historic announcement was made at the William McKendree Society dinner on Apr. 21.
“Owning the golf course allows us to offer our students a variety of educational opportunities in the future,” said Dr. James Dennis, president. “Locust Hills has natural water features that our biology department could potentially use as an outdoor laboratory to study aquatic organisms and plant habitats,” Dennis said. “Our sport management majors could learn about golf course and recreational facilities management. It’s exciting to imagine the possibilities.”
In recent years the University bought several houses and vacant land in the campus vicinity to accommodate its growth and expanded services. “The acquisition of a singular large tract of land is a more prudent investment for long-term development and it enables the expansion of our campus at some point in the future,” Dennis noted.
The course will be known as Locust Hills Golf Course at McKendree University. “Our immediate plans are to operate it as a public golf course and to make any necessary improvements or enhancements as we are able,” Dennis said. The University hired Sally Collins as the new general manager and director of golf. She brings over 30 years of experience in the golf industry as a Ladies Professional Golf Association Class A Teaching and Club Professional and director of golf at a 12,000 acre golf community with her to Locust Hills. The University will continue to employ the majority of the current Locust Hills staff, he added, noting that the golf course and clubhouse could create job opportunities for students in the future.