Sunday, August 1, 2004
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Matt Levins column
Matt Levins Matt Levins

When Steve Sanders first took over at Great River Road Golf Club 15 years ago, he had one goal in mind — to make the course affordable and enjoyable to the average golfer in the area.

Sanders has far surpassed those goals. Since opening the back nine in 1993, the course located halfway between Nauvoo and Hamilton, Ill., on Highway 96 has become a featured attraction across the Midwest.

In fact, Great River Road Golf Club was recently acclaimed by the State of Illinois Bureau of Tourism as one of the "Top 25 Summer Fun Ideas." GRRGC ranked 11th on the list, just behind Wrigley Field, longtime home of the Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball franchise.

And Midwest Golf Magazine calls GRRGC "truly one of the best golf bargains anywhere."

For Sanders, it is all just icing on the cake.

"It's kind of cool. I don't know how we got that or why, but it's cool," said Sanders, the owner and manager of GRRGC. "We try to be friendly and give people a course that is affordable and fun. GRRGC is not the nicest golf course in Illinois, but it's fun.. That's what it's all about. When I was first getting into this business, that's one of the first things I learned — you don't have to play golf. We work hard to make sure you have fun playing golf."

Rustin Lippincott, director of Nauvoo Tourism, agrees.

"Great River Road Golf Club adds to the exciting and historic atmosphere of Nauvoo," Lippincott said. "It provides the opportunity for visitors to experience a challenging course in a great environment."

Sanders regularly gets people from Wisconsin and Minnesota who make the trek of at least 4 1/2 hours to get to the 18–hole layout. In fact, some people drive as far as 600 miles, coming from near the Canadian border.

"We will get 5500 paid rounds out of Wisconsin and Minnesota this year," Sanders said. "That's amazing. We have a fun place to play and we set everything up for them so they can enjoy it. Tourists don't care what state they are in, they just want to have fun. We try to make it fun for everyone.

"It's all about promoting the area. This is an area award."

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