Around 1900, the land making up what is now known as Biltmore Estates and Biltmore Country Club was settled by the William Sandman family after the Winnebago and Potawatomi Indians moved on to more productive hunting grounds.
Some years later, William R. Grace, an English cabinetmaker, purchased the Sandman Farm. Mr. Grace built a home that served for many years as Biltmore’s Clubhouse, along with a water tower and a stable, which housed our Pro Shop and bag storage areas.
In 1925, Clifford Leonard, a Director of the First National Bank of Chicago, purchased the Grace Farm in order to develop and make a reality the dream he had for many years. The Grace properties, approximately 800 acres, were turned into Biltmore Estates and Country Club.
Biltmore was planned as a weekend rendezvous with emphasis on outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, riding and as a “family country club.” The original golf course was designed by the then famous architect Leonard Macomber and completed in 1926.
Over the intervening years a complete drainage system was built for the golf course, much of which lies on a foundation of peat, which drained slowly after rainfall. Today, it is uncommon for the course to be closed for more than a few hours, even after the most torrential rain. Also, our extensive watering system was added, utilizing Honey Lake as a fresh water supply. The club still maintains Honey Lake, not only to ensure the water supply, but also to provide fine fishing, swimming and sailing. The tennis complex was also updated with lights for night playing and a state of the art the Tennis Pro Shop.
During the late 1980’s, it became apparent that the years had taken their toll on the buildings that made up the Clubhouse, Pro Shop and cart storage complex. The membership had to make the agonizing decision that the buildings, with their long history, memories and traditions, had to be replaced. While construction of the new buildings went on, the Members continued to use the old facilities. In June of 1992, the new Clubhouse and facilities were fully operational.
Through feedback received from our Annual Survey, the areas that members wished to see improved included the Cabana and Tennis Shop. The Membership voted to build these two brand new buildings and in the summer of 2010 the Club welcomed a brand new Beach Club featuring full locker rooms, indoor and outdoor dining with a full service menu, an outdoor bar and more. The Tennis Shop now features tennis apparel, equipment, refreshments, restrooms and a dining patio.
Over 85 years ago, Clifford Leonard dreamed of and created “The Family Country Club.” Through many years of change, the membership of Biltmore continues to maintain those ideals.