When energy magnate Gerald Forsythe first decided to add tees and greens to his family farmland in Marshall, Illinois (four hours south of Chicago), never did he imagine that Golf Digest would declare his backyard the number-two new private golf course in the nation—but that's exactly what happened earlier this year. Now, starting this fall, memberships to Canyata (a Native American word for "backwoods") will be available.
Coaxed by course designers Bob Lohmann and Mike Benkusky to expand from the original three holes to nine, then to eleven and finally to eighteen, Forsythe eventually recognized that his private family retreat had become a whole new project. "I told myself, 'If I'm going to do this, then I'm going to do it first-class,'" he says. According to lead designer Benkusky, "Mr. Forsythe obviously wanted the best golf course he could have."
And he got it. Canyata today is a rolling, woodsy par seventy-two with fifty-yard-wide fairways and greens upward of 7,000 square feet. Forsythe and his team also have ambitious ideas for the structure of the club, including an all-inclusive membership with no guest fees and various on-site lodging options. Initiation fees were not set at press time; for more information, visit canyata.com.