Chicago may be known as a foodie town, but any golf aficionado knows the city and the surrounding area is flush with quality public golf courses that are as pleasurable as an 18-course dinner at Forbes Travel Five-Star Alinea. Most are easily accessible by car from Downtown Chicago, and all have the type of views and scenery that will transport you from the hustle and bustle of city life. Here are five of the top places to tee off:
Part of a 500-acre park that was once the estate of the former editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune, Colonel Robert R. McCormick, Cantigny is a large, lush oasis in the western suburb of Wheaton. Three 9-hole courses have verdant views of 12 lakes, bent grass tees and more than 100,000 flowers. Cantigny has hosted several events, including the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
Just 15 minutes from Downtown Chicago, Harborside is the only place on this list within city limits. Opened in 1995, the center has two courses built upon a landfill. Don’t let that scare you away — the greenery and the views of Lake Calumet (and the city skyline in the distance) are stunning, and the clubhouse is top-notch.
The Dubsdread course has been a longtime go-to for PGA Tour events (Western Open, now known as the BMW Championship) at this southwestern suburb spot that feels more like a private club than a public facility. In 2008, the course was redone by Rees Jones, who added length to the holes and enhanced the bunkers to elevate the level of difficulty for Tour players.
This course dates back to 1921, but its gorgeous greens have been renovated and updated throughout the years. Located in Mundelein, a northern suburb, Pine Meadow is known for its towering trees (250-year-old oaks and 60-foot pines) and remote-feeling fairways. The practice facility is prime, with grass tees, bunkers and chipping and pitching greens (don’t be surprised if you see a PGA player here doing some fine-tuning).
This course, which was designed by Tom Fazio, was once a naval air station (read: flat as flat can be), but the superstar links architect transformed it into a glorious course with lightly rolling fairways, streams and lakes. Located on Chicago’s North Shore in Glenview, The Glen is known as one of Chicagoland’s prettiest courses; and it does a good job of blocking out the hubbub of a major metropolitan city.
Ready for a Drive?
Head farther from the city to experience some truly beautiful courses two to three hours away by car. Here are our picks for a day-trip round of golf:
There are four courses at this resort in Galena in the northwest corner of Illinois, but The General (named after Ulysses S. Grant) is the one to play. It fronts Lake Galena Lake and has views of three states (Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin), rolling hills and 250-foot elevation change.
Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin, is home to four lauded courses on property; but people dream about playing the resort’s two sister courses at Whistling Straits, which were designed to resemble layouts in Ireland (complete with roaming sheep and hundreds of bunkers). If time allows, book a post-round treatment at the Five-Star Kohler Waters Spa and/or dinner at Four-Star The Immigrant Restaurant.
Designed by Lee Trevino, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer, the three serene courses (all named for the golf greats) at this Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, resort are manicured to perfection and have views of pretty Lake Como.
Photos Courtesy of Kohler Co., Cog Hill Golf & Country Club and Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa