In 1993, Annbriar Golf Course opened in Waterloo, bearing the name of the woman who originated it.
Ann Nobbe had the idea for something golf related in the area after getting her family interested in the sport.
“She introduced us to the game,” Annbriar general manager Russ Nobbe remembered. “She kind of floated the idea around to build a golf course or driving range.”
Ann never saw her idea come to fruition, dying in a car crash in January 1990.
“That was kind of the bump that dad needed to really get going on the golf course,” Russ said. “It became somewhat of a memorial. There was a lot of feeling behind that.”
So, on May 13, 1991, work began on Annbriar golf course, which was founded by a group of investors that included William Nobbe.
After two years of construction and working on the land, which was part of a farm the Nobbes owned, Annbriar opened on May 28, 1993.
Russ, who has worked at Annbriar, at least off and on, since it opened, said the response was extraordinary.
“Business when we opened was phenomenal,” he said. “We did a seven-day advance on tee times. You would fill up the next Saturday by 7 a.m.”
“There was a lot of positive comments,” Russ added. “Everybody’s always enjoyed the golf course – the design, the conditioning. We’ve always had a really good response.”
Soon after opening, however, the nascent golf course faced adversity.
Late in the summer of 1993, several of the greens on the golf course died, forcing the course to use temporary holes on fairways on some holes.
“It was a tough thing because we opened to great acclaim and great demand then lost the green,” Russ said. “It was kind of a step back. It took a while to shake that because when you lose your green, golfers remember that. It’s a bad impression.”
Even once the greens grew back in, Annbriar also had to cope with the boom in area golf courses in the mid-1990s.
“It eventually got to a point where there wasn’t as high of a demand because there was more of a supply,” Russ said. “That changed quite a bit how tough the business got to attract golfers.”
To combat this competition, Annbriar Golf Course strove to continue to provide the experience Russ said has made it a success for 25 years.
“We pretty much stuck to trying to provide a great golf course and a friendly staff,” he said.
That formula has worked for more than just Waterloo residents, too, as Annbriar has received numerous accolades.
For example, the course boasts a 4.5 star rating from Golf Digest, a monthly golf magazine.
Golf Advisor, a website where golfers review golf courses, also ranked Annbriar the second best course in Illinois in 2016 and the seventh best golf course in America in 2017.
“It was pretty unbelievable,” Russ said of the latter honor. “It’s kind of a testament to what I said before: we’ve got a great golf course with a great staff to go with it and people appreciate that. We appreciate all those (accolades), but to me it’s always been the feedback you just hear form people.”
Russ further described what makes the course itself so enjoyable.
“I just think it’s a lot of fun to play,” he explained. “It’s a very fun, challenging and fair golf course.”
He said the recognition has only added to the rewards the family has felt from operating the course in their hometown.
“It’s been challenging but rewarding,” Russ said. “It’s a big endeavor. It takes a lot of effort, time and commitment from pretty much the whole family.”
He also said that family extends to the employees in many ways.
“Some people have been here the whole time and we have a lot of long-term employees,” Russ noted. “That means a lot to us. It’s a family-oriented venture and I think you have that feeling in this workplace. We have a tremendous team.”
To learn more about Annbriar Golf Course or to schedule a tee time, go to annbriar.com or call 939-4653.