At most driving ranges, players can smash golf balls off of tees to their heart's content, but are unable to prove the results of their hard work on an actual hole. Then again, most driving ranges don't have a staff as seasoned as the one found at Chicago Players Club in Grayslake. The 20-acre property has all the features of a typical driving range—20 grass hitting stations, 5 target greens, and 20 separate mats. The difference lies in the men overseeing the operation. PGA teaching professional Mike Mandakas is available daily by appointment, ready to dole out advice on everything from how to correct a problematic backswing to which clubs make the best back-scratchers. He's joined by a team of instructors, who lend their expertise to players willing to journey to the course, which is conveniently located at the corner of Route 120 and US-45.
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.
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
The Southside Polish Fest is said to be the largest of its kind in the country, an honor it has earned by attracting not just the local Polish community, but by welcoming Chicagoans of all ethnicities. Whether familiar with the culture or not, revelers can immerse themselves in it by sampling traditional foods and beers and by taking in the live performances scheduled to fill all three days of the festival. This entertainment includes polka bands, Polish musicians, traditional dancers, the unceasing movement of the sun, and even a pierogi-eating contest. Kids will be drawn to the 25 carnival rides, which riders can enjoy by purchasing wristbands good for either 4-hour blocks or all three days of the festival.
Motivating, highly trained staff and spacious facilities complement Charter Fitness's battalion of cardio machines and strength-training equipment. Huge flat-screen TVs motivate gym-goers as they lift weights, stationary bikes, and their reflections in large mirrors. Seasoned personal trainers who all hold certifications or four-year degrees in their specialty guide members through an initial personal-training session, introducing clients to the best equipment for their fitness goals. After workouts, private showers or public water fountains sluice away sweat.