‘We’re Busier Than Ever’: Deerpath Golf Course Is in Full Swing
By Kim Piekos
Covid-19 hit many industries hard, but the sport of golf emerged stronger. Why? Golf was one of the few sports that people could play outside during the pandemic. As a result, Deerpath Golf Course in Lake Forest is enjoying resurgent interest in the game.
“Once construction is over, it will be better than ever,” said new General Manager Patrick O'Donoghue of Deerpath Golf Course.
New General Manager Patrick O’Donoghue reported that all aspects of the course are thriving in 2021. More than 500 kids are taking part in the Discover Golf camp. Tee times are booked. Lessons are packed. And new events are coming up. “As things opened up after the pandemic, our team here has hit the ground running at Deerpath,” he said. “Golf is trending up, and we’re busier than ever.”
O’Donoghue, who started his new position in April, brings a unique background in hospitality and sports management to Deerpath Golf Course and KemperSports, its parent company. Having played baseball at St. Ambrose University and interned with the Milwaukee Brewers, he followed in the hospitality footsteps of his grandparents and father, both of whom owned Irish pubs in Milwaukee.
Following his college graduation, O’Donoghue became assistant manager at Wildfire, a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant, and then general manager at Prime and Provision, a steakhouse located at Wacker and LaSalle.
“Working at those restaurants was like getting a master’s degree in hospitality,” O’Donoghue said. “Here, I enjoy how every day is different.I like moving around from supervising a golf outing to managing the Sandwedge Grill and concessions at the lakefront to interacting with the variety of people who play here on certain days.All my skill sets get used at once.”
And all that construction we see along Deerpath Road? It is benefitting the golf course as well as helping alleviate flooding issues under the Route 41 overpass during rainstorms. Two retention ponds have been added to the course, one at the first hole and one at the 17th hole, which will eventually include an attractive water feature. Still an 18-hole course, the 17th hole has been shortened to a par 3 and the 18th hole has temporarily become a shortened par 4. A new putting green will also be featured near the 17th hole. “Once construction is over, it will be better than ever,” O’Donoghue noted.
In addition to enjoying a round of golf, Lake Forest residents can partake in new activities at Deerpath Golf Course. Every Wednesday evening in July from 6 p.m.-8 p.m., live music will be featured on the patio along with a Happy Hour. On Monday and Thursday evenings from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m., golfers can take lessons and play games as part of Adult Game Night. On Aug. 6, a Movie on the Range night will be held, which will feature a film directed by former Lake Forest resident John Hughes.
O’Donoghue is proud of the dedicated team at the golf course.
“Our new superintendent, Nick Yackle, is keeping the course in top condition,” he said. “Head golf pro Greg Baeten is keeping our lessons, leagues, outings and handicap scorings operating efficiently. Richard Franklin is amazing at getting our kids to love golf and coming to the course, and training older kids to compete at higher levels.”