Blackhawk Trace Golf Club's 27-hole layout can accommodate players of almost any handicap—nearly every hole has four separate tee boxes. But it's also challenged some of the world's best golfers as the host course of three NGA Hooters Tours events and qualifiers for the LaSalle Bank Open, a Nationwide Tour Event. Anyone who plays the course from the tips will get a taste of true Tour golf without having to lick the fairways at Augusta National.
The complex is divided into three nines called the Island, Woodland, and Highland Courses. At the second tee box of the Island Golf Course, golfers will stare down a 611-yard par-five that ends in an elevated green. It makes the mammoth hole even longer than its billing in the scorecard. But the layout doesn't just test a golfer's ability to grip-and-rip: the course's signature attraction might be its 155-yard par three with a true island green, which will challenge golfers' confidence with the shorter sticks. As a part of the Club's massive renovation 10 years ago, all tees, greens, and fairways are comprised of slick bent-grass. Dashes of fescue grass provide an eye-catching texture to the terrain but become less appealing when they get entangled with your irons.
Before taking to the course, feel free to warm up at the Club's practice facility, anchored by a 46-station driving range with four multi-tiered target greens. The facility also encompasses two large putting greens and sandtraps for practicing both greenside and fairway sand shots.
The Painted Penguin is all about having a fun experience. They showcase the art of ceramics, inviting participants with any level of experience to unhurriedly paint their bisque and plaster pieces in the company of friends, family members, or birthday party guests. When designing their own pieces or attending any of The Painted Penguin's parties, customers can choose from over 3,000 pottery pieces and enlist the help of staff members, who are always on hand to provide tips or inspiration. Walk-ins are welcome, and guests can paint and take home their piece the very same day.
Golfer’s Paradise’s friendly golfing confines foster year-round golfing within the indoor hitting stalls of their AboutGolf simulators. Using real clubs, players pulverize orbs into an immense screen that utilizes 3-D graphics to vividly emulate the immaculate greenery, calculated topography, and yellow-brick cart paths of some of the world’s most famous courses. Golfers can trace powerful drives into the windswept, simulated stratosphere of St. Andrews Old Course or evade the treacherous water hazards at Michigan’s Robert Trent Jones–designed course, The Heather. Along with technology that ensures each shot travels in a realistic manner, the simulators boast advanced swing-tracking sensors that collect data and even offer advice to correct unsound swings.
A staff of PGA-certified instructors oversees Golfer's Paradise's two executive-style lounges, offering expert advice to help transform swing imbalances into trustworthy motions. Pupils benefit from the instructors' hard-won wisdom combined with the computer-generated feedback of the simulators, which reveals detailed results of the position of one's clubface at impact and the effects of sweaty-palm syndrome.
PGA Class A instructor Mike Erwin has a resumé that sparkles with such gems as time spent working with PGA professionals, as well as a quarter century spent teaching the fundamentals of golf. During each of his lessons, Erwin focuses on the three core components of the swing: grip, posture, and impact position, drilling students in basic skills to build consistent, top-notch performance on the course. Lessons infuse old-school fundamentals with sophisticated technology, recording sessions with 3-D K-Vest apparatuses or digital V1 swing analysis that allows pupils to monitor their posture and correct common mistakes such as improper positions that cause loss of power instead of hitting it with the club. In addition to mentoring players one-on-one, Erwin fosters early development of fair play and concentration with junior golf classes and hones driving distances with winter golf skill seminars.
Looking to put a new spin on a classic family activity, the minds behind Glowgolf decided to give the game a phosphorescent update. Incandescent courses place friends and family amid a tropical-fantasy golf world of neon orange, green, and violet surroundings. Players putt luminous orbs through vibrant treasure chests and glimmering windmills while negotiating tricky obstacles near walls portraying black-light-lit aquatic scenes. With more than 20 locations spread over 10 states, Glowgolf's fluorescent labyrinths challenge human players and traveling gnomes.
Champion angler John Angel knows the best spots to find large schools of largemouth and smallmouth bass throughout the scenic waterways of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. During fishing trips, he escorts groups to these prime locales aboard his trusty 22-foot pro erNitro bass boat, fully loaded with poles and artificial lures for use. Excursions range from a half-day on the water up to multiple-day trips, complete with transportation, gas, lodging, and meals included.