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.
PGN Fun Center's two adventure-themed miniature-golf courses wind through several levels of tall hedges, boulders, waterfalls, castles, and caves. Rope bridges, slopes, and stairs lead putters along each course, which eventually meet at the fun center's main playhouse. Inside, flashing lights and sirens radiate from an arcade full of ticket-spewing skill-stoppers, skee-ball games, and classic video arcade consoles. A three-tiered indoor playground provides pintsize guests with several slides, tunnels, and ball pits to explore, and the onsite kitchen fires hot dogs, pizzas, and chicken wings to keep growling stomachs quieter than a miming church mouse. PGN Fun Center also hosts two levels of hitting stations on its outdoor driving range.
On a trip to Chicago from his native Italy, young Mario Tricoci changed his life forever. The fledgling hairdresser stopped in at a prestigious salon, where he impressed the owner with his impeccable display of skill and landed himself a job. The next six decades brought strings of industry awards and the opening of his very own salon, which soon exploded into 26 locations in four states. With his styling prowess proven both to the industry and to the clients he encountered each day, the coiffeur decided to share his gift with others. In 2004, he established Tricoci University to foster a new generation of cosmetologists and spa technicians trained to thrive in the luxury-spa industry.
Throughout the Midwest, Tricoci protégés study a rigorous curriculum in high-end salon and spa surroundings to learn how to create beautiful hairdos, choose skin-flattering cosmetics, and beautify nails and skin. A team of experienced industry professionals readies pupils for the beauty world with in-depth classes, and outside education arrives via video demonstrations and guest-artist lectures on Vidal Sassoon's Wedge-Bob Postulate. More advanced students get a preview of their career to come by beautifying real people during instructor-supervised treatments, which lend the stylist essential experience as the client enjoys a pampering session at a discounted rate.
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.
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
Team USA vs. The World may sound like the title of Shaquille O'Neal's autobiography, but it is in fact a mixed martial arts competition that pits 12 of this country's finest mixed martial arts athletes against teams of fighters from Australia, Ireland, and Poland. Stuff your pockets with miniature American flags and gird your thrillcitement nodes for an evening of leg tussles, arm bars, and rear naked chokes. With ground-floor seats, you'll be close enough to see the beads of sweat on the fighters' brows and smell the adrenaline puffs as they condense into clouds shaped like clenched fists in the air above the ring. Fighters scheduled to battle for Team USA include John Hansen (205 lbs.), the 2008 USA National Champion in the LHW Division, Alex White (155 lbs.), who won in the 2009 Ringside World Boxing Championships, and Eric Daigle (155 lbs.), who obtained the lightweight title during the ISCF National Tournament in 2009.