Whereas a lot of wealthy individuals have built golf clubs, very few of them have actually designed the courses. But Jerry Rich, inspired by the late architect Dick Wilson, bought 1,820 acres of farmland 50 miles west of Chicago and with the guidance of course architect Greg Martin, built 18 of the most demanding holes—playing over prairie and through wooded areas—in the Midwest. (In the 2007 NCAA Men’s Regional, at a relatively benign 7,214 yards, the scoring average was 78.44.)
Although the club is private—there are just 50 members—Rich has opened the facility for the area’s youth. In addition to being a home course for his alma mater, Northern Illinois University, Rich Harvest is the headquarters of the Kids Golf Foundation of Illinois, which he co-founded. Since 1998 the organization has helped bring the game to thousands of children in the state, and in 2009 the foundation will help run the Solheim Cup, which will be played on Rich’s creation.