• 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.
Sheltered within the picturesque expanse of the Lake County Forest Preserves, Countryside Golf Club gives players a choice between two courses that roll through scenic terrain certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Before taking to either course, golfers can tee off on the driving range, where 30 hitting stations are trimmed with natural turf and synthetic grass grown fresh each season from seedlings of recycled sneakers. The club’s Prairie course and Traditional course are each marked by unique terrain features and challenges. The Prairie course is the longer of the two and eschews trees for wispy shrubbery and open vistas. It demands both hearty drives and accurate approach shots to greens hugged by sand bunkers and unemployed yetis. Through slightly shorter, the Traditional course tasks players with striking precise tee shots from bentgrass tee boxes overlooking tree-lined fairways.
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: