Meet the players in the Mount Prospect-based women's golf league that's been around since 1941
A women's golf league based in Mount Prospect will soon celebrate a milestone -- playing for 80 straight years.
The anniversary will be marked at the Mount Prospect Golf Club's Tri-City Women's Golf League's season-ending luncheon, which will take place Sept. 28 at Giacomo's Ristorante in Des Plaines.
The league, which features a handful of golfers past the age of 80, has been around since 1941, even before the club was owned by the park district.
In that first year, 56 women played in the league, and it's never lost its luster as the list today stands at 60.
"This is definitely my last year," says 93-year-old Toni Emanuele with a big smile.
"She says that every year," chimes in another league member with a laugh.
The reason the women keep playing is obvious. They enjoy being on the course with each other each Tuesday morning. Forty-one women play 18 holes and 19 play nine.
"It's the wonderful people," Emanuele said. "I enjoy hitting the ball whenever I can. It's always a challenge. I've been playing the league off and on for a long time. I used to play 18 holes. My putting is sometimes the best part of my game, when my putter decides to work. The best part is just being here with the wonderful people."
Everyone got a thrill a few weeks ago when Judy Graves, in her early 80s, got a hole-in-one on hole No. 10, which was playing about 70 yards. She used a 9-iron.
"It just takes a little luck," said Graves, who has the pin flag from the day signed by all the witnesses.
Graves is one of 19 Mount Prospect residents in the league which includes women from downtown Chicago, northwest Chicago, Skokie, Elmhurst, Niles, Wheeling, Barrington, Arlington Heights and Des Plaines.
The league began with residents only from Mount Prospect, Arlington Heights and Des Plaines, thus the name "Tri-City."
Lucy Brennan of Mount Prospect began playing in 2018 and today serves as president.
"I started playing in it just for fun," Brennan said. "It was a close-by neighborhood course and it was a chance to have some fun and meet some new people."
Brennan said the golfers range in age from their 40s to 93.
Joan Shaffer, 81, of Mount Prospect, is one of the veterans, having competed in the league for 37 years.
"I only wish my golf had improved," she says with a laugh. "The gals make it fun. It's nice being out in the summer time. I work the rest of the year (security at Prospect High School) so my summers are golf.
"I still enjoy the game and you get to meet people from all over. It's just fun."
Lillian Draz, 83 of Mount Prospect, began in 1990 after she retired.
"I used to play with my husband," Draz said. "We bought a place in Florida and I got in a league there. I started coming here for group lessons and I played in the course tournament at the end of the season. The ball doesn't go as far anymore but it's just as enjoyable because it's nice to be around people. As long as I can, I will keep playing. It's a friendly, competitive league. Not cutthroat."
Brennan said Louise Binder has been the treasurer for years and Linda Donohue schedules all the tee times.
"It's a lot of hard work," Brennan said. "Linda gets everyone organized and Judy Graves prints everything up on the computer and gets everyone off on the tees. And Debra Cromie (the course's golf operations and pro shop manager) is a really big help with everything."
The league members have been big into sponsoring the Rally for the Cure foundation, donating for many years. This year, they sent $2,400 toward the cancer-awareness program.
Brennan says the best part of the league is the camaraderie.
"We keep score and the girls bring their score cards in after every round," she said. "Judy (Graves) and Sue (Weichert of Lake Barrington) calculate everything at the end of the season and at the luncheon we give out monetary gifts according to how we played during the season. It's all done by points. The course isn't easy. We just learn from each other."
"There are some excellent golfers," Brennan added. "It's just girls who love to golf. It doesn't matter what the scores are. They just want to have fun and enjoy the club. A lot of the women have left to move to warmer climates. But we have a lot of new ones. Many walk the course, even in the heat."
Alice Wunderlich, a 30-year resident of Mount Prospect, is enjoying her first year in the league.
"I am impressed with how organized and welcoming the league is," Wunderlich said. "The best thing is the weekly lunch and chatting on the club deck after golfing to wash away the memories of bad shots and celebrate good ones.
"There are a wide range of ages and scores which make it easy to fit in. It is instructive to watch good play and putting. And instructive to witness the fortitude of members working through aches and pains and life's challenges."
For information on the league, email Brennan at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on Mount Prospect Golf Club, visit www.golfmtprospect.com.