Here’s our list of the top 10 courses in the Prairie State.
1. CHICAGO GOLF CLUB, Wheaton C.B. Macdonald’s turn-of-the-century homage to the Old Course at St. Andrews, reworked by his protégé Seth Raynor in 1923, boasts superb executions of their famed template holes.
2. SHOREACRES, Lake Bluff A network of snaking ravines and creeks adds both challenge and charm to this Raynor design where once again the templates are the brightest stars.
3. OLYMPIA FIELDS (NORTH), Olympia Fields A classic parkland design by Scotsman Willie Park Jr., it has produced national championship victories by Jim Furyk (2003 U.S. Open) and Bryson DeChambeau (2015 U.S. Amateur).
4. MEDINAH (NO.3), Medinah Like the oak trees that line its fairways, this is a big, strong course that examines every aspect of one’s game. It was here in 2012 that the European Ryder Cup team scored its most stunning comeback victory, winning 8.5 of 12 points in the singles.
5. BUTLER NATIONAL, Oak Brook Multimillionaire Paul Butler asked George Fazio to create a course that would test the best and Fazio and nephew Tom did just that. Long, narrow corridors, numerous water hazards, grasping bunkers, and small fiendishly contoured greens make this one of the hardest in the world.
6. SKOKIE, Glencoe Several architects have had a hand in this course, but it’s the vexing Donald Ross greens that stand out along with a transformational renovation of the bunkering by Ron Prichard. Gene Sarazen won the U.S. Open here in 1922.
7. OLD ELM, Highland Park Ross comes to the fore once again, having executed this design by Harry Colt. It is not long, and water comes into play on only one shot, but the greens are well bunkered, full of slope, and brutally fast.
8. BEVERLY, Chicago Yet another revered Ross gem, this one despite being set in the south side of Chicago and bisected by a major road. Much history here including a U.S. Amateur win by Francis Ouimet and Western Open titles by both Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
9. BLACK SHEEP (1ST/2ND), Sugar Grove Founded in 1999 as an unpretentious men-only club focused on first-class golf, this 27-hole complex, the work of local architect David Esler, sits on a windswept prairie land, its fast-running fairways menaced by over 300 bunkers.
10. COG HILL (NO. 4), Lemont The lone public entry and longtime host of PGA Tour events, this Dick Wilson/Joe Lee design, updated by Rees Jones, is nicknamed “Dubsdread.” Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson are among the winners here while countless mere mortals have been beaten by this extremely strong test.
What Illinois courses did we miss?