Chicago businessman’s bold approach could help steer daily-fee golf into its next age

ROMEOVILLE, ILL. (Oct. 14, 2019) – The Greater Chicago has a rich heritage in golf, from hosting some of the game’s top professional and amateur events to providing iconic private and public playing experiences for visitors as well as its passionate and discriminating locals.

Chicagoans take their golf seriously, so it says a lot that they’ve taken a particular shine to the Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville where the ever-improving guest experience is driven by a visionary owner and his commitment to providing an elevated and inventive version of daily-fee golf.

Over the past eight years no one has invested more into public golf in Chicago than Mistwood’s Jim McWethy. Today, he is changing the landscape for the sustainable high-end golf experience. 

In 2011, McWethy, who took over the property from partners in 2003, acted on a vision to make the property more than just one of the area’s best playing experiences. He wanted Mistwood to reflect and enhance the lifestyles of his daily-fee guests and members. So, over a five-year period, Mistwood was completely reconstructed both on and off the course with an inspired and purpose-driven touch. 

The beguiling and already-popular links-style golf course, which wraps around a beautiful 65-acre lake, was remastered by its original architect Ray Hearn and now stretches to more than 7,000 yards and features a signature aesthetic: 19 Scottish-style sod wall bunkers, which bring a feeling of Scotland to the Midwest. Validating McWethy’s plan, Mistwood was named GOLF Magazine’s “Renovation of the Year” in 2014 and was listed on Golf Digest’s “Best New Course” list.

McWethy also knew that in today’s society and golf business, a great standalone golf course wasn’t enough to fully engage golfers and their families, so the former business executive committed to building a Scottish themed golf village-highlighted by a 27,000-square-foot clubhouse, which overlooks the golf course and lake that now hosts a robust banquet and wedding business. 

Not content to offer just a standard grill room, McWethy commissioned McWethy’s Tavern which specializes in hand-crafted and locally sourced cuisine including steaks, chops and signature sandwiches. 

“I get reminded that we’re really on to something when I get unexpected comments from friends, members of prestigious clubs in the Chicago area, who tell me they dropped by McWethy’s for dinner and felt they just had to tell me how well our team has nailed the ‘upscale casual’ dining concept,” McWethy says. “And, these are folks with very refined palates who could have eaten anywhere in town!”

To further make Mistwood feel like a one-stop destination for golfers, the state-of-the-art 5,000 square-foot Mistwood Performance Center, offering custom fitting, club repair services and top-level instruction was constructed from the ground-up. 

Golf Range Magazine singled out the high-tech golfing haven as one of the country’s “Top 50 Public Ranges” while Golf Digest has repeatedly named the center a “Top 100 Clubfitters” destination. raved “There are few places in the Midwest better equipped to improve your game. 

Not only is there a staff of well-qualified instructors, but they have most every technology tool at their disposal, from TrackMan and Foresight GC2 to the Sam Putting Lab plus has two hitting bays, a putter fitting studio and an extensive, award-winning clubfitting and repair operation.”

Over a short period, Mistwood became the kind of place golfers and their friends and family were content to hang out at all day. “I’m so proud of the fun, lively atmosphere and culture our staff has created because it’s contagious and our guests pick up on the enjoyment of being here and experiencing everything Mistwood has to offer,” says McWethy. “Even the performance center has become an attractive gathering space before and after rounds. People feel at home here.”

Recently, McWethy found an innovative way to grow the Mistwood brand beyond the golf course footprint. With the nearby standalone 60,000 square-foot Mistwood Golf Dome, McWethy brings Topgolf-like thrills (with a more personal and welcoming environment and an elevated approach to food and beverage) to a space that was once “just a range.” 

The facility has been transformed into an innovative and dynamic golf range center where golfers and non-golfers alike improve and enjoy games utilizing the Toptracer Range technology. An inviting and attractively-designed retreat, the Dome features casual lounge seating, TVs, and premier food and beverage service at the attached McWethy’s Sports Bar.

McWethy’s, a new local favorite, is a fun entertainment venue featuring a variety of fine fare including award-winning wings and more than 30 craft beers.

“The Dome is an incredible place to spend time. We had one group recently stay and enjoy themselves for eight hours!” McWethy laughs. “It’s great to see people of all ages excited about golf and having a great time.”

McWethy has a deep appreciation for what Chicago golfers value and the things they’re looking for out of the game. His bold investment in Mistwood might make him seem like a bit of a maverick, but the man himself is gentle, thoughtful and dedicated to helping more people enjoy a golf-centric lifestyle. 

“Both sides of my family were successful entrepreneurs and became so by providing top quality products and service and taking meticulous care about the way it’s delivered,” he says. “The plan for Mistwood seems big but it was always simple. We want people to have fun and enjoy all the amenities from the minute they pull into the parking lot until they decide to go home.” 

Chicago being one of the most robust and history-laden public golf markets in the country, it’s fitting that a Windy City golf property is now the beacon for what a sustainable, thriving golf property can be in this current generation when its owner and staff apply creativity and vision. 

“When you look at reports doubting the health of the golf industry, some are justified. However, we at Mistwood are finding that there is still a segment of golfers who are passionate about the game and the golfing life, and we enjoy delivering a great experience to them,” says McWethy. “That we are enjoying success as a result of our unique approach is gratifying, too.”

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