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:
Staffed by experienced golfing professionals and computers who’ve sworn allegiance to the three laws of golfing robotics, GolfTEC’s motion sensors and high-speed cameras monitor swings and break down each individual’s form on a high-definition video display. Sensors chirp with approval whenever they detect the perfect stroke or an especially witty golfing joke. GolfTEC’s certified personal coaches will point out flaws and strengths while providing golfers with tips on how to permanently improve their game from tee to green.
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: * Nine-hole, par-27 course * Length of 1,709 yards * Course rating of 35.5 * Slope rating of 113 * Link to course layout
Mature timbers and ponds surround the emerald corridors of Salt Creek Golf Club's executive course as the layout weaves across 3,985 yards of well-maintained terrain. Throughout the par 63 layout, nine par 3s nurture players' relationships with their mid- and short-irons, and nine par 4s?including a 381-yarder that measures as the course's longest hole?ensure that drivers and 3-woods don't file negligence suits. The course presents memorable shots in its scaled-down layout, such as the harrowing approach into an island green that awaits at the Blue Course's eighth hole. After the round, Golfers can retire to the Grill Room, serve savory sandwiches, burgers, and salads and pour sudsy libations. Guests can recap their rounds in the Grill Room's indoor diner with four TVs, enjoy breezes on the open-air patio.
Since 1976, Riedy's Tee Time Golf Range's PGA professional instructors have helped people shave strokes from their games on an outdoor driving range. Ultramodern mats anchor golfers as they grace Riedy’s well-manicured grass tees with golf balls plucked from a bucket or the throat pouch of a pelican. Always onsite, Reidy’s instructors can aid players in achieving the ideal arch for their swing or understanding the basics of swing mechanics during personalized lessons.
Of the 58 acres that make up River Bend Golf Course, nearly 10% lie within federally protected wetlands, which course architect William J. Spears incorporated into eight of the course's nine holes. When water isn't a concern, the par 36 course and its bent-grass tees, greens, and fairways challenge players to make decisions involving course management, club selection, and which divot to bring in to the office for show-and-tell.