• For $40, you get 18 holes of golf and cart rental for two Monday–Friday before 3:30 p.m. (up to an $80 value), plus 10% off food and drink at the restaurant and lounge. • For $50, you 18 holes of golf and cart rental for two Saturday–Sunday after 1 p.m. (up to a $96 value), plus 10% off food and drink at the restaurant and lounge.
With 17 of its 18 verdant holes featuring in-play water hazards, the challenging yet fair links at Bittersweet Golf Club have earned its apropos moniker, as well as the Daily Herald's 2010 Readers' Choice Award. Mature hardwoods and wetlands stand guard over four tees as orbs assail formidable fairways, and groomed, game-bolstering bentgrass greens counteract any frustration experienced at tests such as the ninth hole, which bares the name "slim" despite being constantly full of gummy worms. To further increase player enjoyment, the course's toughest turns and landings were recently widened, persuading 3-woods to spend less time off to the side with their still-rooted ancestors.
Having opened in 1974, Foss Park Golf Club embarks on its fifth decade of challenging golfers to demonstrate long drives and precise approaches on its 18-hole course. The layout arcs across a grassy patch dotted with ponds, a stream, and clusters of trees, all of which aim to keep golfers as far away from the par of 72 as possible. Rather than lifting weights in an effort blast shots directly through tree trunks, golfers can learn to work shots around obstacles with some time on the lighted grass-tee driving range or a lesson with PGA head pro Gabe Monroe.
Course at a Glance:
Painted the distinctive international orange of the Golden Gate Bridge, to which it bears more than a passing resemblance, the signature bridge at Browns Lake Golf Course crosses the Fox River in style. Players walk over this sleek structure after they’ve made their play off the tee on the par 3 12th hole. Thankfully, they need not fly the San Francisco Bay or lay up on Alcatraz to reach the green in regulation: a 150-yard strike with enough loft ought to do the trick.
Players have been attempting this feat with varying degrees of success since 1921, when the course opened. Wedged between the river to the west and Browns Lake to the east, it's designed to challenge golfers of all handicaps. A round here represents a 6,449-yard loop from the back tees, filled with enough elevated greens to make players reconsider both their club selections and their reluctance to ask their caddies for a piggy-back ride. Though they may want to steer their golf balls clear of it, visitors can admire a bunker in the shape of comic-strip character Andy Gump on the par 3 fourth hole, which was designed to pay homage to local native Sidney Smith, his creator.
Course at a Glance:
Designed by famed golf-course architect Joseph L. Lee, Plum Tree National Golf Club delights par pursuers with a picturesque, 18-hole course intertwined with more than 200 acres of unspoiled McHenry County forestland. Host to numerous Illinois PGA events and national qualifying events, the verdant fairways challenge club swingers with 105 sand traps, demanding water obstacles, and distractingly seductive grass. More than 4,000 trees stand perched along the rolling terrain, and players can rely on well-kept fairways and greens thanks to a recently completed maintenance-and-drainage program that required no less than 17 hedge trimmers and one very large wet/dry vacuum cleaner.
The Golf Club at Waters Edge presents golfers of every stripe with a nine-hole layout that puts iron accuracy and short-game touch to the test. The Randy Wirkus design extends to 1,700 yards for a par of 33—an ideal setup for beginners who want to focus on fundamentals and ex-players who want a reason to sport their bygone golf fashions. After the round, golfers can unwind at the onsite restaurant, which offers a full-service bar, a Friday fish fry, and a pool table.