Cascade Hills Country Club has a rich history that spans nearly 100 years.
In the Beginning
On January 24, 1916, fifty Grand Rapids golfers met to form the Grand Rapids Golf Club. They took up residence at a nine-hole course located in the Ottawa Hills section of the city when The Highland Country Club moved to the west side.
A New Course... A New Name
On January 17, 1919 an organizational meeting was held to appoint a selection committee for the development of a new 18-hole club. Eventually, 192 acres were purchased from the Smith and Vanderstolp farms in southeast Grand Rapids. Construction began that same year under the direction of Jack Daray, head professional at the Highland Country Club.
The new Club was originally formed as Lakeview Country Club because it was thought that Reeds Lake would be visible from the grounds. Unfortunately it wasn’t, so a special committee reviewed new names suggested by the membership, and the name Cascade Hills Country Club (presumably because it was located in Cascade Township) became the official name on November 21, 1921. As the city expanded, the Club later became a part of Grand Rapids Township.
The Fire of 1936
On a hot, July morning in 1936, several women noticed smoke rising from the clubhouse while they were on the golf course. Rushing inside, they went straight to the unlocked women’s lockers and began placing engagement and wedding rings on their fingers. They then raced back outside just ahead of the advancing flames. As other women came off the course, they were able to claim their rings thanks to the quick thinking of Gretchen Burch and Mary Honecker. The Grand Rapids and Ada Fire Departments got into a jurisdictional dispute regarding who should respond to the alarm. Neither did, and the Club burned completely to the ground in less than 2 hours.
A New Clubhouse
The fire loss was estimated at $100,000.00. Insurance at the time covered only $71,250.00. Nonetheless, major emphasis went immediately into rebuilding the clubhouse. Temporary
quarters were constructed for locker facilities and club storage. Ground was broken for the Normandy Design clubhouse on February 10, 1937. The formal opening of the two-story brick, stone, and stucco building was celebrated with a dance on June 26, 1937.
Through the Years
In 1964, the members voted to expand and remodel the clubhouse by enlarging the grille and adding a bar and storage area near the Pro Shop. That same year, Maurie Wells retired after serving 44 magnificent years as Club Pro. Maurie was replaced by his longtime assistant, Glenn Stuart. When Glenn left in 1968, his assistant, John Celestino filled the position. In 1978 the first Grand Rapids Jaycees Charity Golf Classic was held at Cascade Hills Country Club for the Ford Museum Charity. The participants were: Gerald R. Ford, Arnold Palmer, David Marr, Bob Toski, Andy Bean, David Graham, Tom Kite, Bruce Lietzke, Gil Morgan, George Burns, and Bill Rogers.
In 1985 the Clubhouse was beginning to show its age; plumbing and electrical systems needed replacement, and the dining and bar facilities looked “tired.” Rather than approach the problems piecemeal, the Planning Committee made a presentation to the membership recommending upgrade and improvement of everything in one major project. The plans, however, were tabled. More study ensued and a new architect was appointed to the project in 1986. This time the membership approved the new remodeling plan, and construction began in October of 1987 to be completed in May of 1988.
Following a member survey in 2000, the decision was made to once again renovate and expand the building amenities. In lieu of a complete demolition, 28,000 square feet were added to the original building in a way that preserved its architectural integrity and historical features. Through the renovation, which was completed in 2002, Cascade Hills added a fitness center, expanded the banquet and dining rooms, and updated all amenities and facilities throughout the Club.
A Bright Future
Today, Cascade Hills Country Club provides members and their guests with the finest golf, dining, and social environment possible. Every effort is made to ensure a country club experience which is second to none. Our unique history affirms our commitment to the needs of our members, both today and tomorrow.