'It's just beautiful': Improvements by new owners transform Willow Hill golf course

  • Kent and Kari Knebelkamp are the owners of Willow Hill Golf Course in Northbrook.

    Kent and Kari Knebelkamp are the owners of Willow Hill Golf Course in Northbrook. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Willow Hill Golf Course in Northbrook features a view of the Chicago skyline, which is 19 miles away.

    Willow Hill Golf Course in Northbrook features a view of the Chicago skyline, which is 19 miles away. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Aerial view of Willow Hill Golf Course in Northbrook.

    Aerial view of Willow Hill Golf Course in Northbrook. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Techny Towers looms in the distance as golfers walk down the fairway after teeing off at Willow Hill Golf Course in Northbrook.

    Techny Towers looms in the distance as golfers walk down the fairway after teeing off at Willow Hill Golf Course in Northbrook. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Willow Hill Golf Course in Northbrook is noticeably greener this year due to hard work by the owners and grounds crew.

    Willow Hill Golf Course in Northbrook is noticeably greener this year due to hard work by the owners and grounds crew. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • A patio has been added to Willow Hill Golf Course clubhouse and restaurant in Northbrook.

    A patio has been added to Willow Hill Golf Course clubhouse and restaurant in Northbrook. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted11/4/2021 8:30 AM

Willow Hill Golf Course is noticeably greener these days, thanks to the hard work its new owners have put into the property since acquiring it in December 2019.

Situated at the top of a former landfill straddling Glenview and Northbrook along Willow Road, the 200-foot high, nine-hole golf course comes with a view of the Chicago skyline, 19 miles distant, and nearby Techny Towers.

 

In addition to work that has taken place on the fairways and greens, owners Kari and Kent Knebelkamp have spent the past 22 months adding improvements including a full-service restaurant, an outdoor patio, and a soon-to-be-opened 220-foot-by-470-foot golf dome.

"We did a ton of improvements to the golf course," Kent said. "It's greener, there's no weeds, and it's just beautiful. The greens are just so nice right now, and everybody's raving."

Both Kari and Kent noted that many of improvements will help provide a draw for people to come to the course even when golf is not in season.

"There's so much space up here," Kari said. "It's such a beautiful venue; you can see the skyline, and the sunset is just gorgeous from the outdoor patio."

A pumpkin patch was set up outside the clubhouse recently, and from Nov. 20 through Jan. 2, the Willow Hill's Winter Magic holiday light show will take place. The drive-through light show will include over 25,000 feet of holiday string lights.

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During the fall and winter seasons, the restaurant will be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, and a new Friday fish fry has been popular, the couple said.

Kent hopes to have the golf dome open by the end of the year. When it does open, it will serve as an indoor driving range in the morning and an sports venue for kids in the afternoon and evening.

Kari said there will be outdoor concerts starting the second weekend in June next year.

Future improvements will include a new parking lot in the spring, depending on the completion of the permit process, and a shorter access road.

"We couldn't be happier with the progress," Kent said.

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