The Evolution of Grand Maragity
to Grand Marais Golf Club
Business partners Bob Bonner and Houston Topps
Strike a Golfer’s Dream.
By Antoinette Miller
(L-R) Houston Topps, Director
of Golf with Bob Bonner, President, Grand Marais
Despite the blatant appearance of jagged fairways,
overgrown areas and under managed greens that
many abandoned, businessman Bob Bonner, foresaw
prime land that had character, beauty and invaluable
With the insight and ambition of his partners:
Houston Topps and Willie Williams, the three
put forth a plan to greatly transform the course
and enlighten the city of East St. Louis.
Founded in 1936, Grand Marias Golf Club, formerly
loathed as “Grand Maragity” for
its less than attractive appearance has evolved
at the hands of true inspiration and dedication.
“I saw an old course that was really run
down and felt an obligation to do something,”
A true golf fan will not be able to rest when
he sees an old club that has fallen on hard
times. Where some might see weeds and hard work,
Bonner saw potential for introducing the local
community to the charms and delights of golf.
If we're a fan and feverishly follow basketball,
golf or poker news it's sometimes hard to imagine that
everyone doesn't share out enthusiasm, so Bob
Bonner decided to take golf to the people. Those
who might never have considered playing golf
would surely come to love the sport.
As a local business owner, real estate investor,
franchisee of the world renowned McDonald’s
and golfer, Bonner is no stranger to investing
in something that he truly believes in. Subsequently,
at age 53 with a few dollars in his pocket and
much needed support, the renovation of the club
The club was once a thriving establishment
that served many golfers in East St. Louis.
But after previous management lost it to bankruptcy,
Bonner took the initiative to take it over.
“The potential was so great, there is
a lot of history on that piece of land but it
was let go for so long,” says Bonner.
Through extensive clean up and tremendous upgrading
the full service club is now equipped with a
pro shop, pool, tennis courts, Soul Food restaurant,
has a view of the downtown skyline from the
#1 fairway, as well as the amazing discoveries
of a pond and two peninsulas.
Moreover, with excellent business savvy and
incredible teamwork Bonner, Williams, and Topps
have successfully executed Grand Marias’
They spend a lot of time talking about the course
and business with each other while getting in
five or six holes. “I just love those
guys that I work with, they don’t just
put up with me, they understand me,” stated
Houston Topps is a longtime golfer and Grand
Marias’s general manager. “I am
impressed with his standards, when thinking
of someone to appoint, I felt he had what it
takes to handle the job,” expressed Bonner.
Grand Marias’s possibilities are dramatically
endless. The club participates in many tournaments
such as: Ronald McDonald Children’s Charity,
Cardinals Care Kids Care and St. Louis Cardinals.
And more importantly, Bonner is working hard
toward making it extra special in a community
where 99.97 of the population is African American.
He aspires to make the East St. Louis High School
students deeply involved in golf and has also
put forth efforts to implement a program in
the juvenile system.
As a final note, Bonner’s goal is to make
the equity owners.
For more information on Grand Marias Golf Club,
visit their wesite: www.GrandMariasGolfCourse.com
or contact Houston Topps at 618-398-9999 and
Bob Bonner at BobBonner@aol.com.