Rick Hanson had a vision. The owner of Bushwood Golf Dome and Driving Range was standing at the rear of the range, looking downhill toward the tees. He saw that his gently sloped property, at 30 W. Madison St., in Maywood, could serve as an ideal concert venue.  Rick’s vision will become a reality between July 1 and 4 when music debuts at the “Bushwood 4th  of July Ribfest.”

 Patrons can enjoy a selection of ribs from three nationally known vendors. There will also be corn on the cob; and beverages like beer, wine, pop and water. For five bucks extra, rib-eaters can become concertgoers and take in any of the sixteen bands that are slated to perform. These include groups that pay tribute to Journey, Led Zeppelin and U2.

 After Rick hatched his idea for a driving range/concert venue, he shared it with Maywood Mayor Henderson Yarbrough. The mayor heartily approved. They both agreed that, as long as the music wasn’t loud enough to wake the dead, Bushwood wouldn’t disturb any neighbors.

 Although Maywood has been very supportive of Bushwood, Rick also feels a strong bond with Forest Park, noting that the range is just west of the Madison Street business district. What’s more, he is further cementing his relationship with Forest Park by joining our chamber of commerce.

 The Hanson family has operated Bushwood for eight years now. During that time, the range was closed twice by storms that knocked down the wooden poles and tore the netting.  The range now has steel poles sunk in concrete, which withstood the fierce winds from our last storm. 

 Bushwood started putting up a golf dome from November to May about three years ago. 

Rick said the dome gives golfers a “taste of summer” during the dreary winter months. It also puts a club in their hands instead of the TV remote.  Rick plans to heat up the dome even more this winter with indoor concerts, some featuring Latin music. His ultimate goal is to book nationally known bands.

 Rick has seen his business increase every season but there’s been less growth this year. He said that the recession has hurt the golf industry. He also noted that many ranges and courses are in outlying suburbs, and that high gas prices have prompted people to stay in their own neighborhoods. Bushwood’s convenient location gives local hackers yet another reason to practice there.

 He’s also hoping that having a full liquor license will increase revenue.  Rick said he pictures an “island bar” for Ribfest, in the middle of the seating area; and to make sure patrons don’t get out of hand, he’ll have off-duty cops working security.

 The Hanson family cherishes their “beautiful spot” on the west bank of the Des Plaines River; the area abounds with deer, coyotes and raccoons. Beginning in early July, though, it will be home to a different kind of wildlife.

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.