It’s the final hole for a rural golf course that groomed a future British Open champ. That’s after the closing of Hend-Co-Hills near Biggsville, Illinois.
Starting Monday, the 133-acre site is being converted into farm land after a sour economy left the links on its last legs.
These days, heavy equipment is replacing lawn mowers at Hend-Co-Hills Golf Course. A bulldozer is tackling trees on the once-groomed greens and turning the course into a corn field.
“It’s just going to be different,” said Byron Sebastian, Gladstone. “We’ll be seeing crops instead of trees and people out here golfing.”
All of this is bittersweet for Kent Hamilton, father of 2004 British Open Champ Todd Hamilton.
“This is where he got his start,” Kent said.
Todd learned his swing and skills here as a kid and wound up with a monument to his success at the course.
“Without this place here, I don’t think he’d be where he’s at right now,” Kent continued.
The nine-hole course first opened in 1970. Later expanding to 18-holes, it became a fixture in the rural community.
“You would see farmers come up on tractors with their clubs,” Kent recalled.
“That’s why I’m here today,” Sebastian added. “Just to look at it. Have something to remind you of it.”
But in recent years, the economy was like a triple bogey for this course. Feeling the impact from 2008 flooding and 2012 drought, its time just ran out.
“We’re very excited about turning it into a corn field,” said new owner, Cork Kelly, who farms on nearby land.
It will take about two weeks to demolish the course and turn it into farm land. It’s a business deal and transition with the times.
“We’ve got to get a crop in this year,” Kelly said.
On a blustery Monday, all of this is nostalgic for Kent Hamilton. He’s thinking about his son and all the success that started here.
“Gave him the clubs, and you could see there was talent there,” he concluded. “A year or two later, he was beating me. It was fun.”
That’s as a bulldozer levels Hend-Co-Hills but leaves the memories.