Odyssey Country Club in Tinley Park opened in 1991 and had been out of the limelight since the Illinois Women’s Open, which it had hosted in its first few years, was moved to Mistwood in Romeoville by tournament founder Phil Kosin.
Now Odyssey, which has always been a public course, has found a niche which may be unique in American golf.
The Halikias family, which built the course, created a charity foundation and gave it the golf course. Odyssey now hosts veterans and special-needs groups and individuals at greatly reduced rates, along with the general public at regular prices.
The family still owns the clubhouse, which has the usual array of weddings, lunches and dinners.
“We have a whole new mission, a whole new heart,” said Lisa Halikias, the executive director of Odyssey Charities. “We asked ourselves, what can we do that’s different?
“We would always be donating to local causes, but five years ago we took the golf course and donated it to charity. All the money the golf course earns goes back into the charity.”
The family is heavily involved in the charity. Aristotle Halikias is president and two family members are directors. Odyssey Charities is approved as a 501(c)3 charity by the IRS, and is the first, and perhaps only, such course foundation.
“My family and I wanted to do something with our golf course to enrich the lives of others,” Aristotle Halikias said on the foundation’s website (www.odysseygolffoundation.org). “Veterans have done so much to protect our peace and tranquility. Many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. We wanted to give something back to these unsung heroes. We hope the golf course can bring them some peace and tranquility.”
The original mission was to cater only to veterans, but recently…