Oak Terrace Resort Spa in Pana is Central Illinois rarity

By July 6, 2010, 6:46 pm


Oak Terrace Resort & Spa
The green at Oak Terrace Resort's 192-yard 11th hole is guarded by a large tree close to the fringe.

PANA, Ill. – With the PGA Tour John Deere Classic returning to TPC Deere Run, the golf spotlight shines once again on Illinois. And although outstanding and affordable golf can be found throughout this topographically and climatologically diverse state, true golf resorts can be somewhat harder to locate. This is especially true of central Illinois, where relatively flat farmland is the norm.

A welcome exception to this rule is Oak Terrace Resort and Spa in Pana, about 30 minutes south of Springfield. Offering nearly every imaginable amenity, from fishing and boat rentals to a lakeside spa to 18 holes of golf, Oak Terrace deserves a vote for 'Most Unexpected' golf resort in the state.

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Golf at Oak Terrace Resort
At just 6,375 yards from the tips, the homey Oak Terrace Golf Course is not long, but it offers plenty of shot-making bang for a reasonable amount of buck. For just $38 weekdays and $46 weekends (cart included), golfers are challenged with a quirky yet enjoyable home-spun design. The layout, devised by resort owners Don and Mike Beyers, can be arguably too cutesy in spots, especially for resort guests who are forced to pull a variety of atypical clubs on short, tight, hazard-ridden tee shots. But at these prices, one can afford to play a couple of practice rounds.

Oak Terrace Golf Course has a bit of a split-personality, with the opening nine consisting mostly of flat holes guarded mainly by long, wispy rough. The back nine narrows considerably as it turns into the woods, and golfers are advised to buckle in for a ride up and down steep hills through chutes of dense hardwood.

The first thing one notices on the front nine is that there is no need to hit your driver on any hole until the 455-yard, par-5 ninth, even from the tips. This also holds for the 412-yard, par-4 second and the 537-yard par-5 third, where OB looms just off the fairway on both sides. At the third hole especially, all that is required is a long iron or fairway wood out to the sharp left-to-right dogleg. After a simple lay-up and wedge, this supposedly 1-stroke handicap hole will yield to an easy par.

By the time you arrive at Oak Terrace Golf Course's ninth hole, and you've all but forgotten you even have a driver in your bag, you are faced with a tough tee shot over a pond, to a left-to-right bending fairway with OB (driving range) right and a pinball machine of small trees to the left. The drive is made all the more nerve-wracking by the kitten-sized bullfrogs thundering in the pond all around the tee box, and five-pound bass splashing and spawning in the shallows. (They should really consider a golf-and-fishing scramble where players compete for low scores and the most bass.)

The back nine is an entirely different beast, where the stretch of holes from the 12th to the 16th have been dubbed 'The Shotmaker's Mile.' It is here that first-time visitors might begin to get frustrated by the extent of local knowledge required to pull the right clubs and take the right lines off the tees. In this respect, the Oak Terrace course is hardly typical of resort-style designs, where the necessity of local knowledge is generally kept to a minimum.

Oak Terrace Golf Course's 340-yard 12th is the first example of the quirkiness of the design. Although the view from the tee through overhanging branches down over a pond to the gently rising fairway is gorgeous, and the distance to clear the pond is well-marked on the tee box, you really have very little feel for what club to hit here – other than being pretty certain that driver is way too much. Thick woods line the right side, and grass and trees line the left, and deep fairway bunkers pinch the fairway about 100 yards out from the green. So you're left with a shot that must carry 210 yards, but not more than 230.

The 377-yard 13th hole is even more vexing, as there is a hidden OB left (where empty home lots are staked out for sale), and the right side is completely dead. Again, a shot of 220 yards is required here, hit with a slight fade to avoid trees that pinch off the front of the tee box.

The 490-yard, par-5 14th continues the string of contorting tee shots. There is a 75-foot drop from tips to fairway, which turns 90 degrees to the left at the landing area. A well-struck 240-yard 5-wood and a 180-yard lay-up left me within a sand wedge of the steeply elevated, sharply two-tiered green. My wedge hit the side of that three-foot tier and rolled back down to the front fringe, where the back-right pin was a difficult 3-putt away.

And if the previous three holes struck you as they did me – a bit overly penal and under-length – Oak Terrace Golf Course's 267-yard, par-4 15th will look like a circus hole. This is especially true from the back tees, which sit atop a levee in Beyers Lake and require a big fade of a tee shot through the branches of an overhanging oak and across an inlet to a green guarded front and right by water. One might argue that a stupid golf writer shouldn't go for the green here, and that my criticism is thus ill-founded; however, given that the cape-style, ribbon-thin fairway borders the far left edge of the lake and is itself lined on the far side with impenetrable woods, a lay-up is no sure thing either.

Because most golfers are left with almost no option here other than sheer luck (I hit a half-dozen clubs, trying a half-dozen strategies, and even well-struck shots came up short and wet or bounced long and lost), I would suggest that this hole could be made much more fun and fair by bringing the tee boxes down to the far end of the water from the green and turning it into a challenging, long par 3 that would require more skill than luck. If nothing else, the woods left of the fairway should be marked with red stakes if the hole stays a par 4, so as to allow for more painless passage to the home stretch.

Amenities at Oak Terrace Resort
The resort's LakeView Spa opened in 2005, and boasts 9,000 square feet with full-view windows overlooking the Beyers Lake. Featuring Kohler fixtures and design, the spa offers a full compliment of treatments, including a beauty salon.

Beyers Lake is a 66-acre fisherman's dream, if the size of the lunker smallmouth bass in the course ponds are any indication. Boat rentals are available at the resort.

Mulligan's Restaurant serves up home-style entrees ($11-$22) in a woodsy atmosphere, with windows looking out onto the course and the rolling landscape. The per-glass wine list is a bit weak, but there are some good bottles available at reasonable prices.

Lodging at Oak Terrace Resort
Oak Terrace Resort offers a number of accommodation options. The Inn at Oak Terrace consists of 37 guest rooms overlooking the golf course and Beyers Lake. The Fairway Townhomes are two-bedroom, two-bath units with kitchens that also overlook the course and are perfect for extended golf outings. Finally, the Lakeside Villas feature two-bedroom, two-bath units, screened-in porch with jacuzzi overlooking the lake, fireplace, flat screen HDTVs, and kitchen area.

In short, the amenities and lodging facilities you'll find at Oak Terrace Resort the best central Illinois has to offer, not only because they are unique in the area, but because they would also be considered excellent anywhere else.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.