Written by: Club Historian, Fred Hoegberg
In 1920, a group of the original promoters took an option on a tract of land 5 miles south of Rockford on South Main Road and started the Motor Heights Golf Club. However, after a meeting at the Old Rockford Athletic Club, it was decided to look for a new location.
During the winter of 1920-1921, Byron E. Eastwood, Clarence E. Werner, and Fred H. Hoegberg toured the Joel Johnson farm of 121 acres in a snowstorm. Later, the same day, in the kitchen of the farmhouse, they committed the club promoters to purchasing the property, at somewhere between $150 and $350 an acre. The 40 club promoters all subscribed $2,000.00 each and incorporated the organization then called Harlem Hills Country Club on March 15, 1921.
The next 110 members, along with the 40 promoters, formed the 150 charter members. Byron E. Eastwood was elected the first President. For the first few years, the old red barn was used as a clubhouse. There was a large pool near the barn, which was used as a reservoir to water the greens, and by some members as a swimming pool. Many Members worked to clear the fields, using a horse to haul away boulders which are still used to line the driveway. The ladies used the farmhouse to cook coffee for potluck luncheons on Ladies Days. For special events, a tent was erected near the barn, and restaurateurs in town brought meals and served them on picnic tables.
The Dedication Day Ceremonies were held on June 29, 1922 with Judge Fred Carpenter delivering an address after a morning golf tournament won by Floyd Palm with a score of 84. Charles “Chuck” Beach won low gross at 8 of the first 10 Plae Dae’s, the first of which was held in 1925.
The present clubhouse was built in 1924 and 1925 by the construction firm of Schmeling and Broitzman at a cost of $58,000.00. The architects were Ed Peterson and our own Gilbert Johnson. It had an indoor swimming pool, which is still under the present men’s locker room, in which Art Eklund was the first swimmer. Harlem Hills Country Club was lost to the bondholders during the depression of 1933. It was bought back at .50 cents on the dollar and incorporated as Forest Hills Country Club on February 15, 1934 with Amos Stockus as its first president.