If the sun is shining, then the Hickory Hills Golf Club's greens are open. The club welcomes players 365 days a year to drive through the more than 7,400 total yards of fairways that make up their 18-hole championship and 9-hole executive courses. Golfers drive carts along a chain of manicured links that date back to 1915, the year the seedlings from Woodrow Wilson's "Plant-a-Golf Course" program began sprouting flagpoles.
Courses at a Glance
The 26-acre facility just 20 minutes from downtown encompasses a sprawling driving range with 60 total hitting stations including 30 mats, 17 covered and heated hitting bays, a 3,500 square foot putting green, two short game areas, and seven target greens. Adjacent to the range, golfers can hone their game around the green at the short game range, which will soon include a bunker to build sandcastle memorials to all of the golf balls lost in battle to course hazards. The entire complex is open year-round and lighted for after-hours practice.
Though golfers can find ample opportunities to improve their skills at the facility through solo practice, the Chicago Players Club can make practice sessions even more effective with advice from a staff of veteran PGA Teaching Professionals. The staff includes decorated PGA pros Mike Mandakas, the owner who has been a golf professional at the elite Olympia Fields, Desert Mountain, and Medinah Country Clubs, Mike Harrigan, who played in eight Western Open PGA Tournaments and was the Illinois PGA Pro and Teacher of the Year in 1995, Jim "Doc" Suttie, the number one ranked teaching professional in Illinois, and Brian Vaisnoras, who has worked a variety of Professional instructor positions on the east coast. The staff offers lessons for players of all ages and abilities, as well as club-fitting services to ensure golfers and their equipment are emotionally compatible.
Instructor Chris Spalla imparts hard-won golf wisdom drawn from a four-year teaching career, including spending the last three years coaching apprentice aces at David Leadbetter Golf Academy’s world headquarters. On the artificial turf of Bridgeview Sports Dome’s 90,000-square-foot facility, pupils can hone their golf game with help from Chris’s encyclopedic knowledge of swing mechanics, golf strategy, and grass recipes. A set of three sessions allows club-flailing clientele to focus each lesson on a different skill set—the dome facilitates swings of varying fullness as well as chipping and putting—or revisit past concepts as they continue to be integrated into course management. The indoor facility fosters clubbing sessions year-round, offering a convenient respite from winter’s harrowing blizzards or summer’s unpredictable cheese-curd hailstorms.