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By Megan Kulick | Photo: Courtesy of Medinah Country Club | May 15, 2017
A legendary golf club cultivates a hip foodie side.
In 1924, a group of Shriners from Chicago’s Medinah Temple created the country oasis that became Medinah Country Club—a weekend destination where city families could toboggan, ski jump and golf on 600 rolling acres of oak forest. Nine decades later, much has stayed the same. And all that activity makes people hungry.
So it’s no surprise that the club’s current overhaul has cuisine at its center. Executive chef Michael Ponzio came to the club four years ago following a 3-year run as director of operations for Rosebud Restaurants, and in sync with the club’s original retreat-like mentality, Ponzio feels a sense of responsibility to take care of the members. “When I came to Medinah, I knew that this was my place,” he says.
He seems to mean that literally. The garden he had planted on club grounds features 25 raised beds for fruit, vegetables and herbs, plus fragrant and edible flowers—57 seven different products total—all grown from seed. Utilizing extra space in the middle of the garden, Ponzio erected a chicken coop that houses 40 hens that produce impeccably fresh eggs (all USDA certified). He tapped some of the maple trees on property and now brings in 30 gallons of fresh maple syrup; there will be honey this summer.
If all this sounds rather hip for a storied golf club, you’d be right; there is even a resident food truck. And the patrons are loving it. “People may join the club for golf, but that’s not why they stay,” says General Manager Robert Sereci. “They stay because of the relationships that they develop. Food and events are a social lubricant to make sure people gather—when you break bread with other members, there is something special about that.” 6N001 Medinah Road, Medinah
1 RIGHT ON COURSE
Greens fees vary depending on the course—Medinah houses three courses across 600 acres.
2 A WINNING STREAK
With three U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships and the 2012 Ryder Cup under its belt, Medinah is no stranger to hosting the top events. The 2019 BMW Championship is already on the books.
3 KNOW SOMEONE?
Membership is by invitation only, and ranges from national and international to a special associate 40-and-under category, which is the fastest-growing area of membership.
4 HEALTHY CLUB
Medinah is a founding member of The Wellness Project, which tallies the healthiest clubs in America. So far, there are less than 20 clubs on the list.