Rich Harvest Farms, a private golf club in Sugar Grove, Ill., has a unique history. It began with six greens with each hole having three different approach angles to comprise an 18-hole course. In 1997, owner Jerry Rich transformed it into an 18-hole course as an expansion from the original. One of its better known holes is the 13th "Devil's Elbow," which features what's billed as "one of the most intimidating tee shots in golf" with its tree-lined tee and fairway.

In 2009 Rich Harvest Farms hosted the biennial trans-Atlantic team match-play competition featuring the best US born players from the LPGA and the best European born players representing the Ladies European Tour, the LET.

The Solheim Cup is named in honour of the Solheim family, makers of PING golf equipment, and is the most prestigious international team event in women’s professional golf.

With some input from Team Captains, Beth Daniels and Alison Nicholas, GCSAA Class A Superintendent, Jeff VerCautren,  prepared the golf course for the Tournament, re-did a few trees and bunkers, but their biggest challenge was the weather – which went from record rain to 90 degree heat. 

With the support of club members, monthly on-site visits from LPGA Tour Agronomist, John Miller, VerCautren’s staff worked round the clock through most of the summer, in the  lead up to the Tournament to bring the bentgrass/Poa annua greens to pristine condition.

Having previously worked with the PGA Tour for 6 years in Florida, Cruz knew how to deal with the heat, the wet and the unpredictable weather conditions in the lead up to this prestigious event.

‘We were grinding our greens mowers every day during the tournament and all other mowers once a week prior to the tournament. Jeff wanted every cutting unit razor sharp every day.” That is something that Ernie Cruz understands well. “I have been using Express Dual and Angelmaster grinders since the beginning of my career. Unlike other brands that are over engineered, Bernhard grinders are simple to use and very dependable. Doesn’t matter if it’s for tournament use or everyday use, the grinders are perfect for us.”  

“Jacqui Full, Bernhard Tournament Support Specialist was on hand for us the entire week and was a huge support.”

The mystique of Rich Harvest Farms and that of Jerry Rich is something that is frequently talked about.  Many fans were just happy to be able to get a chance to see the course, which is off limits to just about everyone on the plant.

One fan remarked, “The course is absolutely beautiful. Very well maintained, very prestigious. It felt like I was peeking in to a privileged world.”

Rich Harvest Farms was the dream of Jerry and Betty Rich – a long, slow build to the completed 18 holes in 1997. Within 5 years it was ranked 5th Best New Private Course in the US, beating designs from Nicklaus, Dye and Wieskopf and a Top 100 pick. In the ‘condition’ category it was ranked 2nd Best New Course in the US – so Ernie Cruz is certainly a force to be listened to.

For more information on Rich Harvest Farms, visit