LOST LAKE – Lost Nation Golf Club has an enthusiastic new owner who lives only a stone’s throw away from the scenic course.
Club member Dan Whalen, 41, of Dixon/Lost Lake, said he closed on the sale Friday morning.
Whalen, a member of the club for three years, said he is happy that he will be able to keep the site a public golf course, which he said will benefit not only Lost Lake but also the surrounding communities of Dixon, Oregon and Rochelle.
He’s also happy to keep the land out of the hands of any of the others who were interested in buying it to redevelop the land.
The 18-hole, 168-plus-acre course at 6931 S. Lost Nation Road – in a rural Ogle County subdivision with a Dixon mailing address – was listed for sale in November for $1.25 million, which was below the appraised value, according to the listing.
Whalen declined to say what he paid.
Whalen, who’s originally from up the road in Oregon, has been in sales and management since college and said he is delighted with and excited by this new venture.
“I figured it was time to do something for myself, and this opportunity came up,” he said. “My job now is the golf course.”
It’s going to be a sweet commute.
“I live across the street from the golf course. It’s one of the reasons we bought the house. The golf course was one of the draws,” he said, adding with a laugh, “I’ll be driving my golf cart to work.”
His goal is to return to Lost Nation some of its lost glory and make it one of the best courses around.
“It’s going to be challenging, but it will be rewarding at the same time,” he said.
Whalen is married to Erika (Meiners) Whalen, who is the human resources director at Crest Foods in Ashton, and – get this – not a golfer, although she likes to sit on the clubhouse deck and read, her husband said. They have a dog named Marge.
Lost Nation began as a private course for Lost Nation Woodland Homesteads, now Lost Lake, in the mid-1960s.
Back then, those who bought a home also got a membership. It opened to the public in the 1970s.
According to its website, it has earned “numerous” four-star “Places to Play” honors from Golf Digest readers.
There’s a clubhouse with a bar and grill, outdoor seating overlooking the grounds (also good for reading), a banquet room for community events, a pro shop and a small practice area.
The restaurant hasn’t been open consistently since the pandemic, but that’s high on Whalen’s list.
“We’re working to make sure the restaurant is open at least during the golf season and hopefully all year round,” he said.
The club has a staff of about 10 full-time and seasonal workers, and he plans to hire more, especially for the bar and grill.
Because the soil is sand-based, the course has “very good drainage,” he said.
“We are able to open up sooner and stay open later than other courses,” Whalen said.
In fact, Lost Nation opens for play when the temperatures hit 50 or higher and there’s no snow or rain, so it has no official opening day.
It’s also a versatile course, Whalen said.
“It’s challenging enough for weekend warriors ... and challenging enough for those who consider themselves good golfers,” he said.
Whalen said memberships and fees will remain as they are for now, but it will be a short while before the system is up and running and new memberships can be taken.
There were 65 members last season, a number he hopes to increase substantially.
Whalen has some general maintenance and upkeep plans for the course in the near future, such as repairing a furnace; getting new flags, cups and tee markers; painting the pro shop; and generally “making it more appealing and inviting for everyone,” he said.
In a post Thursday on the course’s Facebook page, former owner Robert Peacock Jr. of Chicago wrote: “On behalf of myself and my family I would like to thank all of the patrons of Lost Nation Golf Club for their support. ... After 42 years, I have met a lot of nice people. I have always tried to be polite, honest and fair with everyone. I will miss many of you.
“Today, I turned the keys over to Dan. I wish him good luck and can’t wait to see him take LNGC to the next level.”
To learn more
Call 815-652-4212, find Lost Nation Golf Course on Facebook or visit lostnationgolf.com for information on the course, membership or hosting events.