The discussion of public golf in Chicago always begins with Cog Hill. The Dubsdread Course (no. 4 to locals), played host to the Western Open, a staple of the PGA TOUR for decades before the FedExCup was created, triggering the tournaments untimely demise. This classic parkland test was designed by Joe Lee, a golf design hero in Illinois. A much more interesting test than Medinah and with nowhere near as much water and trees, Cog Hill has served as the Midwests Bethpage long before the golf world outside of New York City had even heard of Bethpage.
Two other excellent options include the inexpensive and interesting Pine Meadow, in nearby Mundelein ' only $83 on weekends ' and The General at Eagle Ridge Resort, a Roger Packard/Andy North design which tumbles over, around, and through rolling farmland, scenic brooks, and verdant forests.
A mere two hours away, Indianapolis has several excellent public golf volleys to fire back across the border. Hoosiers are rightly proud of native son Pete Dye, who designed three terrific options for local players. In novel and inspired coup, Dye routed four holes of Brickyard Crossing Golf Club inside the oval of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Also, Dye redesigned an old local favorite, The Fort Golf Club. Finally, he recently finished a new design at Purdue University, about which he is particularly keen. Indianas a great place to play golf he says proudly. Theres a lot of courses that are close together, fun to play, and charge a reasonable amount of money he finished in his earnest, yet down-home, matter-of-fact way.
Following in Petes footsteps is tough, but former design associate Tim Liddy has done a great job of creating strategically interesting golf course while keeping costs down for the public player as well. Two of his courses, Rock Hollow and The Trophy Club, have rocketed to the top of the states must-play lists, right next to those of his former teacher.
Since launching his first golf writing website in 2004, Jay Flemma's comparative analysis of golf designs and knowledge of golf course architecture and golf travel have garnered wide industry respect. In researching his book on America's great public golf courses (and whether they're worth the money), Jay, an associate editor of Cybergolf, has played over 260 nationally ranked public golf courses in 39 different states. Jay has played about 1,649,000 yards of golf - or roughly 938 miles. His pieces on travel and architecture appear in Golf Observer, Cybergolf and other print magazines. When not researching golf courses for design, value and excitement, Jay is an entertainment, copyright, Internet and trademark lawyer and an Entertainment and Internet Law professor in Manhattan.