A fabulous foursome of public golf courses in Chicago

By Erik PetersonSeptember 9, 2009, 3:58 am
glen club no 4
The par-3 fourth hole at The Glen Club in Glenview, Ill.

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CHICAGO – When the seasons change from summer to autumn, Chicago golf goes from good to great. And while the window of opportunity closes fast – most courses close by Thanksgiving – fall is widely considered the best time of the year to enjoy some of  the Second City’s second-to-none public courses. Here are four courses you'll want to play as part of your autumn golf experience in Sweet Home Chicago.

Cog Hill Golf & Country Club
It’s not often you’ll find a public-access PGA Tour venue with “country club” in its title, but such is the case at Cog Hill. In fact, four courses – including the recently redesigned Dubsdread course – make Cog Hill the largest and most popular collection of public golf courses in the Chicago area.

Cog Hill G&CC
Lemont, Ill.
Southwest Chicago
Web site

Getting there: 30 minutes from Midway Airport, 40 minutes from downtown Chicago

Price: Course 1 & 3 - $61, Course 2 - $73, Dubsdread - $150

Did you know: Cog Hill is the only course to host a U.S. Amateur (1997) and a U.S. Amateur Public Links (1970, 1989)

Of the four courses at Cog Hill, the 1,000-pound gorilla is Dubsdread, which hosts this year's BMW Championship for the second time in three years (it was home to the PGA Tour's Western Open from 1991 through 2006). But with the advancement of golf technology through the years, Dubsdread has become more like a 1,000-pound teddy bear: Since 2001, the average winning score in each PGA Tour event has been 17 under par. To give it more bite, course owner Frank Jemsek hired Rees Jones, aka the U.S. Open Doctor, to redesign the course with the hope that the U.S. Golf Association will select it for a future U.S. Open. Bunkers were deepened, greens rebuilt, and tee boxes extended.

What do the changes mean for the average golfer? A golf course with a rating of 75.4 just got a lot tougher. Granted, five different tees allow amateurs to play the proper length, but the greens are severe no matter who's playing. The green at No. 3, for example, was made much smaller and more boldly contoured. Precision is a must, whether you're Tiger Woods or Joe Golfer.

The other three courses – known simply as Nos. 1, 2 and 3 – aren’t nearly as memorable, but hold their own nonetheless. No. 2 hosted qualifying for the 1997 U.S. Amateur, which was at Dubsdread that year, and is regarded as one of America’s best courses under $100. Nos. 1 and 3 you can play for $20 on a weekday after 3 p.m.

Cantigny Golf Club
Due west of downtown Chicago sits Cantigny Golf Club, a 27-hole facility that’s only been open since 1989 but has already hosted a U.S. Amateur Public Links and three Illinois State Amateurs.

Cantigny Golf Club
Wheaton, Ill.
West Chicago
Web site

Getting there: 40 minutes from O'Hare Airport, 45 minutes from downtown Chicago

Price: $90 (cart extra)

Did you know: One nine is reserved for nine-hole play, where the rate is an affordable $30.
The experience at Cantigny is special from the moment you pull into the parking lot and head down the tree-lined driveway that’s every bit as visually stunning as Augusta National's Magnolia Lane. As guests pull up to the bag drop they’re greeted by employees dressed in knickers.

Each nine at Cantigny is distinctly named – Woodside, Hillside, Lakeside – and while each emphasizes characteristics indicative of its namesake, the entire property features diverse numbers of indigenous oak, ash and hardwood trees. When the leaves begin to turn, Cantigny is simply one of the most breathtaking golf courses in America.  

The newly-constructed practice facility at Cantigny features a covered and heated hitting area that’s designed to allow Chicago golfers the opportunity to practice all year round (No small feat, considering wintertime temperatures rarely get above freezing.). Private indoor instruction areas also enhance Cantigny’s instructional offering, and an adjacent short game area is frequented by PGA Tour up-and-comer Kevin Streelman, who grew up in the area.

The Glen Club
On the north side of town is The Glen Club, Chicago’s most impressive golf resort. Situated near a flourishing new residential and shopping district, this Fazio-designed track maintains an isolated, private feeling with holes that offer views of nothing but native rolling terrain. The $10 million clubhouse is replete with all the amenities of a private club, and also has luxurious guest rooms named after various Chicago golf landmarks.

The Glen Club
Glenview, Ill.
North Chicago
Web site

Getting there: 20 minutes from O'Hare Airport, 35-40 minutes from downtown Chicago

Price: $177 (cart extra)

Did you know: Stay-and-play packages start at $250. Check their website for details.
Opened in 2001, The Glen Club has championship pedigree at a young age – it hosted the Nationwide Tour's LaSalle Bank Open from 2002-2008. Several golf publications have it tabbed as one of the top-5 public courses in Illinois, and it was regarded as one of America's best new public courses when it opened.

As you stroll the perfectly manicured fairways you’ll notice elevation changes that are vintage Fazio, including the downhill fourth, the signature hole at The Glen Club. Wind can make club selection at this short par 3 difficult, but for players who study the wind and commit to club selection, this can be a birdie opportunity on a nine that’s otherwise very difficult.  

The back nine at The Glen Club plays at least two shots easier than the front, with two reachable par 5s and a two short par 4s. The 18th is a demanding risk-reward par 5, which has made for plenty of exciting finishes on the Nationwide Tour.

Bolingbrook Golf Club
Shining like a beacon atop the corn fields of the southwest Chicago suburbs is Bolingbrook Golf Club and its 76,000-square-foot clubhouse. And while the clubhouse is indeed a sight to behold – it’s the second-largest clubhouse in America next to TPC Sawgrass – the golf course is just as splendid.

Bolingbrook Golf Club
Bolinngbrook, Ill.
Southwest Chicago
Web site

Getting there: 40 minutes from Midway Airport, 50 minutes from downtown Chicago

Price: $90

Did you know: Plans for a second course, designed by John Daly, are in the works.

The vision of Bolingbrook mayor, Roger Claar, this Arthur Hills and Steve Forrest design is links golf in its truest form. You won’t find many trees on this exposed layout, but you better bring your knockdown shot, as several holes play into a steady 20-25 mph breeze.

Two holes will bring you to your knees, but for different reasons. First, the par-5 fifth is a 600-yard juggernaut that plays into the prevailing wind. If you can imagine hitting driver, 3-wood, 3-wood and still ending up short, that’s what you might find at No. 5.

The signature hole at Bolingbrook is No. 15, a devilish little par 3 that plays to an island green. Think No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass but a little longer and with a little more wind. Good luck!

Whether you’re visiting the north, south or west side of Chicago, there’s great public golf within a short distance. But get there while the weather boasts its best temperatures and the foliage flaunts its most vivid colors. Autumn is truly the season to experience golf in the Midwest.
<table style='border: 3px solid #dea226; padding: 5px; float: right; margin-left: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; width: 150px; height: 94px;'><tbody><tr><td style='background-color: #fbf5e7; text-align: left;'><b style='color:#dea226;'>George Wright Golf Course</b><br /><span style='font-size:10px;'>Boston, Mass.

</span><br /><span style='font-size:10px;'><a href='http://www.cityofboston.gov/parks/GWGC/'>Web site</a><br /><br /><span style='font-size:10px;'><b>Style</b>: Municipal<br />     
<b>Price</b>: $44
<br /></span></span></td></tr></tbody></table>
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Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

The Monday morning headline will be …

REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

What will be the winning score?

HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”