THE TINLEY PARK GOLF EXPO at the Tinley Park Convention Center Feb. 12-14, details at Tinleyparkgolfexpo.com. Sponsored by Beggars Pizza a south side treat. McQsDome.com Where are you hitting golf balls, playing the ponies and enjoying great BBQ while watching all the sports action this weekend. There is only one place to do that and it’s on Rt. 53 in Bolingbrook and the McQ’s Dome, part of the McWethy Golf Operation that includes Mistwood & McWethys Tavern now open at Mistwood Golf Club ______________________________________________________________________
The Gog Blog Chicago’s #1 Online Golf News Source by Rory Spears, Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy in the grill room at Shepherd’s Crook Golf Club in Zion.
This column comes as a spin off to something recently done in my local paper, the Daily Herald. A Thank you to Jim Davis of the paper and his foursome for putting together their favorite 18 holes in the Chicagoland Area.
It got me thinking, what are my favorite public holes. I know my thoughts are the same as Davis had on a few holes, but not many. So I have created my own list, of my favorite Chicagoland area public course golf holes. The list however is created with a few rules. No.1, I have to have played the course for it to be on the list. No.2, I limited the list to having one hole per course to recognize as many of our local courses as possible. No.3, courses under renovation were not eligible, sorry to Oak Meadows and Arlington Lakes. Maybe you will make next years list.
My course will be a par of 72, and I do have a third nine for a total of 27 holes. Below is how I set it up.
1st hole, The par 4, 376 yard 13th hole at Bowes Creek in Elgin. The hole is fairly straight with a small left turn in the last 100 yards. Good opening hole from this Rick Jacobson design.
2nd hole, The par 4, 393 yard 16th hole at Stonewall Orchard in Grayslake. Most golfers play this hole on the Arthur hills design at 325 yards. A fun short par 4 when played that way.
3rd hole, The par 4, 420 yard 4th hole at the Glenview Park District Golf Club, that just reopened from a Jacobson design. This hole requires a demanding drive before it slopes down into a small valley the last 100+ yards in front of the green.
4th hole, The par 3, 155 yard 4th hole at the Highlands of Elgin Golf Club. Art Schaupeter created a pair of outstanding par 3’s on the front nine at HOE. The 4th is shorter than the 7th, but there is less room to miss this green that is surrounded by a variety of hazard’s.
5th hole, The par 5, 563 yard 15th hole at Pine Meadow Golf Club in Mundelein. The William Flynn classic design’s 15th hole starts right and curls around left to a three tier’d green, that has a Pinehurst like feel and bunker style with high grass down the left side.
The Pine Meadow Par 5, 15th hole.
6th hole, The Par 4, 374 yard 3rd hole on the South Nine at Arrowhead Golf Club in Wheaton. Architect Greg Martin’s recent renovation really brought this nine to life, the second shot brings the golfer into the green over water, on a right to left curving fairway.
7th hole, The Par 3, 218 yard 12th hole at Prairie Landing Golf Club in West Chicago. At the grand opening shotgun it was the first hole I played that day. Just because it was a par 3, didn’t mean it wasn’t a demanding opening tee shot. A left to right green behind a water carry on this RT Jones Jr. design. Holes 9 and 18 are both great finishers on this course.
8th hole, The Par 5, 548 yard 7th hole at Balmoral Woods in Crete. The courses #1 handicap hole. I made birdie the first time I played it, and haven’t pressed my luck by playing it again. It took three demanding shots and a great putt to make birdie.
9th hole, The Par 4, 420 yard 1st at Cantigny Golf Links in Wheaton (Woodside). This dogleg right is tempting from the tee, but hidden bunkers and mounds on the bend, stop all but the biggest hitters in their tracks quickly.
After a quick stop at the halfway house I’m on to the 10th hole.
10th hole, The Par 4, 371 yard 10th hole at Orchard Valley Golf Club in Aurora. This Left to Right Dogleg is all-risk reward with houses right. But a well placed tee shot can lead to early birdie to start the back nine.
11th hole, The Par 3, 156 yard 4th hole at the Glen Club in Glenview. A tricky tee shot from an uphill tee box, down to a well protected green with sand and high grass.
The Par 5, 3rd green at Mistwood Golf Club
12th hole, The Par 5, 566 yard 3rd hole at Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville, designed by Ray Hearn.
There is a new back tee that is seldom used that allows this hole to play back around 600 yards.
But this newly designed hole, started a three-phase renovation that’s now complete at Mistwood. The green is a half-island green, and when the pin is on the right side, any attempt to get home in two shots looking for an eagle, is a real risk-reward.
13th hole, The Par 4, 325 yard 11th hole at Village Links in Glen Ellyn. This hole plays right around 300 for most golfers, big hitters love to try and hit the green off the tee.
14th hole, The Par 4, 416 yard 14th hole at Foxford Hills in Cary. The prettiest area of the course, that has a stretch of great holes with elevation changes through the trees, the 14th is one of them.
15th hole, The Par 3, 240 yard 6th at Cog Hill in Lemont (Course 4 Dubsdread). One of the long carry demanding par 3’s on the course. Nothing wrong with Dubs par 3 holes 12 and 14 either, but this one is surrounded by less sand but has a multi-tier green.
16th hole, The Par 4, 326 yard 15th hole at Wilmette Golf Club in Wilmette. A recent Martin renovation put some excitement into this hole. Many golfers love to try and hit the green here with their tee shot, most don’t make it. But it’s the last great birdie hole on my course.
17th hole, The Par 5, 575 yard 18th hole at Shepherd’s Crook in Zion. Architect Keith Foster created a solid three-shot closing hole, that requires a second shot from the low part of the fairway to raised green, that sits right in front of the grill and patio of the clubhouse (which means a gallery on many days).
18th hole, The Par 4, 475 yard 16th hole at Glenwoodie Golf Club in Glenwood. After a demanding tee shot, comes an approach that must carry a wide creek to an uphill green built into the side of a hill.
The Rory Spears Course, Par 36-36=72 yardage 3,476+3,461= 6,928.
The Par 3, 170 yard 7th hole at Mt. Prospect Golf Club.
The Honorable Mention Nine to complete my 27 hole facility.
Par 3’s. 1. Mt. Prospect’s 170 yard 7th hole, was almost my first hole-in-one back in high school. Architect Dave Eslers recent redesign turned a really good hole into a great hole.
2. The 216 yard, 15th hole called “anchor” on the Port Course at Harborside International in Chicago.
3. The 172 yard, 4th hole at White Deer Run in Vernon Hills. This island green is knee knocker for most golfers early in the round.
Par 4’s. 1. The 411 yard 5th hole at Seven Bridges Golf Club in Woodridge. This dogleft right around water and over sand, is called “beach-comer”.
2. The 416 yard 5th hole at Thunderhawk Golf Club in Beach Park. I played this hole with Robert Trent Jones Jr. on opening day, made a solid par. One of the few holes there that’s in the woods, and well done.
3. The 340 yard 18th hole at Maple Meadows in Woodale. This hole is not long, but it’s tight with sand and mounds up the left side. The deep green is no picnic, but a chance for a final birdie here to end your round in style.
The Par 5’s. 1. The 672 yard 11th hole at The Golf Club of Illinois in Algonquin, known as Grant’s March. The tee shot is the key, but even then you need two more good shots to be home in three. Most pars here come after 1-putt greens.
2. The 543 yard 18th hole at Steeplechase Golf Club in Mundelein. Depending on the wind, there are some chances to get home in two shots, but with water short and right of the green, getting home in two is rare. A big balcony on the clubhouse usually gets the golfers a gallery on the final hole.
3. The 555 yard 18th hole at Makray Memorial in Barrington. This demanding par 5 has water on one side, and deep sand bunkers on the other. Par is a great score here.
My third nine is Par 36, yardage at 3,494.
Links and Tee’s Golf Dome at 880 Lake Street is open daily for the winter golf season. See Addisonparks.org
CLOSING NOTES: My apologies to a few courses I like that didn’t get in. Like Ravisloe, in Homewood, Heritage Bluffs in Channahon, and Chevy Chase in Wheeling. Some of my favorite holes that didn’t make the cut are the Par 5 1st at Mt. Prospect, the Par 4 10th at Mistwood, and several holes late on the front nine at Heritage Bluffs. The Par 3 8th at Shepherd’s Crook, the Par 5 3rd hole at Stonewall Orchard. The Par 4 16th on Dubdread at Cog Hill. A few holes including the great par 3 12th at Phillips Park, the par 3 17th hole and par 5 18th hole at Chalet Hills are both good enough and fun enough to make the list as well.
I could go on and on with my list, but my point here is that there is plenty of great public golf around the area. If your up for a challenge, take my list and go play as many holes from it as possible this coming summer. It will make for a great golf season in the year ahead. RS