Crafted with a plethora of sand bunkers, precisely placed mounds, and billowing grass, Golf Club of Illinois' classic 18-hole course challenges ball swatters of every skill level. The par 71 course lets links-loving quartets start by chipping away 9-irons at hole one and end plotting a course through the deceptively shallow green of hole 18. Cruise the Nugent- and Borland-designed playing field with a golf cart for each duo, providing easy travel between holes and quick getaways from the seventh hole's irascible wildebeest population.
Marengo Ridge's congenial director of instruction and the coach of more than 3,000 lessons, Greg Baresel prioritizes fun as well as golf fundamentals to develop consistent, powerful swings. Baresel's relaxed coaching style and custom improvement plans have helped to banish embarrassing bogies from the games and noses of beginner and professional athletes. After fleshing out goals, bodies and minds focus on the three graces of golf—grip, stance, and alignment—to lay a foundation for future par chasing. Finely tuned positions promote coordination and sidestep swing flaws, and budding kinesthesia fosters insight into correcting errant club paths or safely picking up bindles. Hone a newly acquired swing on the course's driving range ($5 for 50 balls; not included in this Groupon) or indoors in the event of weather.
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.
Some consider golf a slow sport, perhaps even antiquated. But Golf Nation brings the traditional pastime into the modern age with the most contemporary technology and tools, including true-roll indoor putting and chipping greens. Golfers can also read up on the latest golf-training materials, perfect their game at true-roll indoor putting greens and multiple chipping short game areas; an indoor bunker area made of real sand ideal for green and fairway side shots; or they can venture outside for driving-range practice from heated bays.
With 25,000 square feet of space, Golf Nation also houses a fitness club stocked with quality cardio equipment and extra space for group yoga and spin classes. A café and lounge claims the remainder of the space, brimming with the aromas of healthy food and sound of convivial chatter.
The 10 golf courses that comprise Forest Preserve Golf guide players on a tee-to-green tour of the greater Chicagoland area, offering an insightful glimpse into the city’s culture and history. Burnham Woods, for example, takes its name from the legendary architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham, credited with designing the city’s structural layout and its manmade river of mustard. The Chick Evans course is named after the first player to win both the US Open and US Amateur, who would later go on to found the popular Evans Scholarship for caddies. With each course densely forested, golfers walk among the area’s natural wonders, as the Highland Woods course perches upon the highest point in Cook County and the Little Calumet River winds through the River Oaks course. With the exception of the 9-hole Billy Caldwell and Meadowlark courses, all are full-length 18-hole tracks.