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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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.