More than a century after it blossomed into a circus headquarters and hosted dozens of acts, including P.T. Barnum's legendary Greatest Show on Earth, the town of Delavan proudly exhibits its distinctive past. Big-top tributes can be seen at Tower Park, where statues of circus animals such as a giraffe and an elephant savor their amnesty from mini-golf courses. Delavan's early days live on through Greek Revival architecture that dates back to the mid-1800s, including the Allyn Mansion and the Israel Stowell Temperance House, originally an alcohol-free safe haven that eventually served as a government meeting center.Delavan's quaint downtown district, lined with old-fashioned lampposts and brick-paved walkways, boasts an assortment of antique stores and small cafés. Throughout the rest of the town, well-manicured parks and 13 miles of forested shoreline along Delavan Lake create a scenic backdrop for horseback rides, hiking, water recreation, and composing haikus on the ground with leaves.
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:
Broadlands Golf Club's 18-hole course spans 6,884 yards of open terrain organized in a majestic, links-style layout. Glassy waters, mounded terrain, and tall native grasses flank fairways and greens throughout the course, letting golfers experience the charms of golf's old Scotch-Irish courses without having to swap their golf ball out for a potato. Throughout the course, dimpled orbs speed across bentgrass fairways and greens, which provide a smooth and fast surface for flush drives and testy breaking putts. The course punishes slow starters and jet-lagged drivers with the par 5 second hole, a relatively straight, 534-yard tract that demands precision to avoid a green heavily fortified by six sand traps. To prepare golfers for their rounds, Broadlands offers lessons, an onsite driving range, and a satellite tour of their course.
Course at a Glance:
As the former host to the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying tournament and numerous Illinois PGA events, the course at Plum Tree National Golf Club welcomes amateurs of all stripes to its 200-acre compound with a professional-worthy pedigree. Since the first swing in 1968, groups have been taking special care to avoid the course’s 105 sand traps, each strategically placed during architect Joe Lee’s attempts at building an ocean. While crossing the picturesque passage, players witness more than 4,000 trees of assorted species rooted firmly in the rolling hills of rural McHenry County. Before each round, golfers can hone their swings at the practice area’s all-grass hitting stations to prepare for difficult shots, such as the tee-to-green first shot on the 173-yard par 3 fourth hole and the long, narrow fairway leading to a contoured green on the par 5 12th hole. Course at a Glance:
Kettle Moraine Golf Club's 18-hole course weaves through an emerald tapestry of tranquil wetlands and towering arbors for 6,406 yards of leisurely golf. While not an overwhelmingly long course, length and precision off of the tee will allow players to cut corners on the course's multiple dogleg fairways, though airborne orbs must remain vigilant of the course's rippling ponds, thickets of marsh grasses, and naturally blossoming bogey plants. Alongside the pristine par 72, clubbers can groove shots at the club's driving range, where they may encounter PGA pro Rick Callies sanding down the rough-edged swings of attentive pupils. The course's gently undulating fairways and greens converge at the Scorecard Lounge, where guests can recapitulate memorable shots over a frothy pint or glass of freshly squeezed range balls. The Club also encompasses a fully stocked pro shop and a stately banquet hall, which overlooks the grounds and sports an elegant stone fireplace.
Course at a Glance:
Since 1975, golfers have sent tee shots soaring over the flat, open expanse of the Oak Ridge Golf Course. Though oak trees dot the landscape, foliage is relatively sparse around the 18-hole layout, boosting confidence when players reach for their drivers or choose to drive their golf carts blindfolded. Trees are just as scarce at Bonny Meade Links—a nine-hole, Scottish style links course located just across the street from Oak Ridge.
Course at a Glance:
Morningstar Golfers Club challenges golfers of all experience levels with a dynamic championship course built around the rolling terrain of a former rock quarry. Four lakes come into play on six holes, doubling as watering troughs for thirsty golf carts. Changing elevations test players' accuracy and adaptability, and stately trees stand guard over the fairways and wildflowers accent the greens. Shots are constantly challenged by strategically placed bunkers, depressions, mounds, and lofty transition areas. Guests can also visit The Golf Shop at Morningstar, an on-site retail shop specializing in instruction and club fitting.