At his two gyms in Bloomingdale and Rockford, Elite Defense Systems' chief instructor Matt Numrich leads practical, defense-oriented classes focused on jeet kune do, the hybrid martial art and philosophical system developed in 1965 by Bruce Lee. Jeet kune do focuses on efficiency and personal development, guiding students through a mixture of more than two dozen arts.
Though Elite Defense Systems offers one-on-one training, group lessons for men, women, and children are recommended for their sense of community, their varied sparring partners, and their chances for students to combine into a five-piece battle robot. Including Matt, the gyms have a staff of only three instructors and three assistants, allowing for a closer student-teacher relationship.
Although there are 26 other greens, one parcel of bentgrass stands out at Hilton Chicago/Indian Lakes Resort’s golf complex. It is a true island green that is approachable only by bridge or conveniently placed hovercraft. This is one of many spectacular course details that populate Blackhawk Trace Golf Club’s three 9-hole courses, each of which comes in at more than 3,400 yards and challenges golfers to a par 36. Renowned golf-course architect Rick Jacobson extensively renovated the links in 2002, and rather than cover blades of grass in mascara and call it a makeover, he decided to transform the 1960s-era bunkers into dramatically sloping sand traps and install four tee options at nearly every hole. Jacobson also switched the greens, tees, and fairways to bentgrass and incorporated fescue grasses to add texture and flavor for grazing golf carts.
Before conquering the courses, players can stretch out swings at the club’s extensive practice facilities, which include 46 all-grass hitting stations, two large putting greens, and practice bunkers. Golfers looking for guidance or a professional friend can employ the talents of onsite PGA instructors for lessons. After a long day of strutting after putts, players can head to the Masters Clubhouse to refuel with sandwiches and flatbreads.
Course at a Glance:
With today's first option, two club-wielders can loop the 6,200-yard links of Phillips Park Golf Course, an 18-hole grassy monolith first braved in the mid-1920s. Bisect wide-open fairways with a well-struck drive on the club's front nine, a links-style layout advantageous for long hitters who can evade strategically placed sand-traps and roaming fairway trolls. The hilly back-nine places a higher premium on orb-mashing precision with tighter, tree-lined fairways and picturesque water hazards. Phillips Park employees will help ward off putt-defying hunger pangs with a complimentary hot dog and chips (a $6.50 value), and both divoteers will be granted a small bucket of range balls (an $8 value) to warm up before the round or use as eyeball facsimiles to terrorize gullible children at the next local carnival.
Slice-prone swings and inconsistent putting strokes meet their demise at Green Valley Golf Range, where guests crush golf balls at an 80-station driving range and sends putts through a tricky mini-golf course. The range boasts towering lights and 20 covered, heated hitting stalls to furnish practice at night, during inclement weather, and through the eternal ice age of the future. The practice facility—which also encompasses a putting green, chipping area, and sand trap—replaces its golf balls every year, ensuring quality equipment for players' enjoyment. The practice facility also houses a virtual golf entertainment experience that allows golfers to play I-tee golf games in which they can compete on courses around the world.
A lighthouse, a pint-sized car, and other old-fashioned obstacles await players at the mini-golf course, a circuit best conquered with laser-like focus attained with the help of Green Valley's complimentary coffee. Clubbers can replenish energy stores zapped after a long day of practice or bench-pressing their driver with a soft-serve ice-cream cone, a slice of Rosati's pizza, or a hot dog, all of which are sold in the Green Valley Ice Cream Shoppe.
At Two Seasons Cycle & Ski, the 7,000-square-foot store stays well stocked with gear, apparel, and accessories to prepare customers for outdoor adventures any time of the year. Men, women, and youngsters can peruse racks full of snowboarding gear by major brands such as Burton and K2 Snowboards and skiing merchandise from top brands including Atomic and Völkl Skis, or call upon Dr. Robert S. Steinberg, podiatrist, for help with finding a properly fitting ski boot. When the ski lifts stop running and snowmen melt back into lifeguards, skiers can put away their gear in favor of the extensive inventory of bicycles and accessories by brands such as Shimano, Cannondale, Trek, and Schwinn.
In the winter, it looks as though an alien spacecraft has touched down at Links & Tees Golf Facility. Within this futuristic structure—actually an inflatable golf dome whose three layers trap heat—PGA professionals teach lessons and golfers practice their snow-clearing swings. This impressive indoor facility—along with an outdoor driving range that boasts more than 50 hitting stations, a 10,000-square foot putting green, and a 5,000-square foot chipping green—has repeatedly landed Links & Tees among Golf Range Magazine's Top 100 Golf Practice Facilities.
After warming up at the range, golfers can take to the tees and bentgrass fairways of a nine-hole executive course, where three ponds snatch up balls and a smattering of sand bunkers tempt hungry golfers to stop and dig for clams. They can also head for Putter’s Peak, an 18-hole miniature-golf course where tiki statues line fairways, the rumble of a Lilliputian waterfall fills the air, and putters must venture into the dark depths of a cave. After either a miniature or executive round of golf, visitors can pull off the plate armor that protects against mis-aimed balls, put down their clubs, and pick up a hot dog or pizza at the 4,000-square-foot clubhouse.
Course at a Glance: