Golf

Youche Country Club reaches membership milestone

2014-03-02T17:00:00Z 2014-03-03T11:55:09Z Youche Country Club reaches membership milestoneJohn Burbridge john.burbridge@nwi.com, (219) 933-3371 nwitimes.com

CROWN POINT | Even if Al Braccolino shot his age at Youche Country Club, he'd still be 13 over par.

"I'm the oldest member here," said the 84-year-old Crown Point man who has been a member of the club for 20 years. "Nah, I'm not very good. Even when I was younger, I wasn't anything special.

"But I've been playing for more than 60 years. I love the sport as much as I did when I first started. It's a great way to get out and meet people and make lasting friendships."

Braccolino may be Youche's oldest member, but he's not as old as Youche itself, which — established as the Crown Point Country Club in 1928 — is a couple years his senior.

Acknowledging there's always room for the next generation, Braccolino — while working under membership chairman Mike Baranczyk — has helped reel in 200 new members at Youche since attaining the role of membership coordinator in September of 2011.

"I've golfed here before several times as a guest, and I loved it," said James Bloede, of Crown Point, who — with his wife Eloise — became the 200th milestone member.

"I'm not much of a golfer like my husband," Eloise said, "but I can learn."

Braccolino says the 18-hole, 6,700-yard-plus course that was redesigned between 2005 and 2008 usually sells itself when he gives tours and complimentary rounds to prospective members.

"It's beautiful and well-manicured," Braccolino said. "It's a user friendly course, but if you don't hit it straight, it's not very forgiving.

"We have a lot of trees, water and sand to contend with."

About the time of the redesign, Youche built a new prairie-style clubhouse located along eastern boundary of the course on 129th Place adjacent to Crown Point High School. The former clubhouse, since razed, was located near the course's southwest corner.

"One of the best things about this clubhouse is that it provides a great view of the course from most every part of the building," Braccolino said. "We also have a new driving range, a heated swimming pool, an exercise room and a bar/restaurant that serves great food.

"What sets this place apart from most other clubs is the friendly atmosphere. It's never that crowded and you don't need to reserve tee times. You can just come and play."

In addition to golf, members can also take ballroom dance lessons, play bridge and dominoes, partake in regular trivia contests and karaoke nights at the club.

Youche is the home course for the Crown Point Bulldogs boys and girls golf teams.

"We also hold community events, like for breast cancer awareness and to award college scholarships," said Braccolino, who mentioned the club and course are open year-round, even when the snow base exceeds more than two feet.

"We hold an annual Polar Bear Open here every winter ... they even did this winter," Braccolino said. "After every shot, they had to locate the little hole in the snow where the ball entered and dig along the tunnel it made to find it.

"Sometimes they hold it when there's no snow on the ground. But what fun is that?"

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