Metro-East Living

New operators will soon take over the closed golf course at Frank Holten State Park

Local businessmen plan to reopen closed Grand Marais golf course

Four local businessmen, with strong ties to East St. Louis, will soon take over the closed Grand Marais golf course at Frank Holten State Park.
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Four local businessmen, with strong ties to East St. Louis, will soon take over the closed Grand Marais golf course at Frank Holten State Park.

Four local businessmen with ties to East St. Louis and Centreville will soon take over the closed golf course at Frank Holten State Park.

Grand Marais Golf Course, 5802 Lake Drive in Centreville, is set to reopen later this year with Robert Bonner, Donald Dace, Tim Wright, and Tony Cox at the helm.

An “emergency” short-term lease agreement will allow the men to reopen the course, according to the group.

The group hopes to secure a 25-year-lease with the state of Illinois to operate the 18-hole course that closed last February. For now, the men plan to operate the course under a short-term lease.

“We want to bring it back to life,” Bonner said Monday. “We want to make it better than it’s ever been. ”

Local golfers have not used the course regularly since October. Operating under the name, Golden Tees, the men plan to spend at least $500,000 on upgrades at Grand Marais. This will be the second major renovation in recent years.

Plans include renovating the former Lighthouse restaurant and pro shop, improving the greens and starting a program for youth.

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Donald Dace, Tony Cox, Tim Wright and Robert Bonner will soon take over the golf course at Frank Holten State Park. Cara Anthony canthony@bnd.com

Robert Bonner, who owns Save-A-Lot and property in East St. Louis, expects to have the full support of the state moving forward. But Bonner and his partners have concerns about maintenance issues in the park. As of Monday, drinking water was not available at the park. Most of the restrooms at Frank Holten are bolted shut or poorly maintained.

Wright said the park hasn’t had running water for awhile, and other improvements are needed.

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A flooded basketball court at Frank Holten State Park, April 22, 2019. Cara Anthony canthony@bnd.com

The state’s description of the park paints a different picture.

“The park features woodlands of Scotch pine, maple, oak, poplar, sycamore, tulip, redbud and wild cherry trees, blossoming flowers and bushes, and urban wildlife,” the state website boost. “Frank Holten has one of the largest day use areas in the region, with picnic shelters, barbecue pits and drinking water.”

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources did not immediately respond to questions about park maintenance.

“We’re looking to make the city proud and the Department of Natural Resources proud,” Wright said.

This is not the first time a new lease holder has taken of the golf course and restaurant. In 2014, a group of five partners coordinated a major renovation.

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