Like a massive white bubble hovering over the earth, the domed roof of the Highland Park Field House covers 52,000 square feet of field turf that hosts soccer games, lacrosse drills, and golf strokes. The facility is a privately funded not-for-profit aimed at serving local high schools and other organizations who can use the space for recreational leagues and practice.
Open soccer pickup games occur five nights a week, and the field transforms into an indoor golf range on weekdays. Whether it’s used for instructional lessons or invisible boomerang throwing practice, the range gives a place for sports enthusiasts to practice year-round regardless of the weather outside.
Bent-grass fairways and pristine greens connect across 6,484 yards to form Sunset Valley Golf Course’s 18-hole, par-72 course. A stream runs diagonally throughout much of the course, which is made navigable by a series of bridges golfers can cross on foot, astride a peppy golf cart, or on the backs of caddies training to be models for rugby shorts. Golfers must give their clubs a pep talk for occasional high-pressure shots, as water hazards come into play on nine holes and bunkers loom throughout the layout. A staff of PGA professionals presides over the pro shop, ready to schedule lessons to remedy chronic slices and manage the delicate egos of short irons.Course at a Glance:
Sheltered within the picturesque expanse of the Lake County Forest Preserves, Countryside Golf Club gives players a choice between two courses that roll through scenic terrain certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Before taking to either course, golfers can tee off on the driving range, where 30 hitting stations are trimmed with natural turf and synthetic grass grown fresh each season from seedlings of recycled sneakers. The club’s Prairie course and Traditional course are each marked by unique terrain features and challenges. The Prairie course is the longer of the two and eschews trees for wispy shrubbery and open vistas. It demands both hearty drives and accurate approach shots to greens hugged by sand bunkers and unemployed yetis. Through slightly shorter, the Traditional course tasks players with striking precise tee shots from bentgrass tee boxes overlooking tree-lined fairways.
The six-week Baseline tennis program at Five Seasons Family Sports Club infuses beginners ages 18 and older with a passion for the game through energetic weekly lessons. Racket rockers learn from a team of experienced pros at both the Northbrook and Burr Ridge locations, each boasting climate-controlled indoor courts and adventurous outdoor courts completely at the mercy of the climate. Students harness basic footwork, forehand, backhand, and behind-the-back no-look slam dunks in a group setting. Social events let fellow net apprentices compare notes throughout the course, including a welcome reception, a member-appreciation party, and a graduation mixer. Any student not born with rackets for arms—or who simply doesn't own one—can borrow one from the club. Classes are generally held Monday through Thursday and on Saturday, with morning, afternoon, and evening sessions available; students should call the club of their choice for complete scheduling information and sweatband fashion tips.
The nine holes of Willow Hill Golf Course sprawl across 87 grassy acres before the scenic backdrop of the Chicago skyline. The par 35 course conjures up visions of the early days of golf with a Scottish links-style design winding for 2,895 yards through low rolling hills and dense rough, left high to punish errant shots and provide cover for napping golfers mid-game. Before or after a round, players can work on finesse around the greens at the 100-yard short-game practice area, or hone their hacks on the driving range, where all 40 stations mimic strokes off the fairway with grass hitting surfaces.
Course at a Glance:
Bittersweet Golf Club’s 18-hole course winds through mature hardwoods and the brambly grasses of native wetlands, supporting the ecosystem that continues to thrive around the former bird sanctuary. Recent renovations have made the Bittersweet course more playable, a personality shift that earned it the Daily Herald’s 2010 Readers' Choice Award as well as several dates with a local soccer field. The course still retains many of its score-mangling qualities, as evidenced by the presence of water hazards on all but one hole, including two ponds that line the sides of the narrow fairway on the ninth hole, appropriately dubbed “Slim.” Bent-grass greens await clubbers at the opposite end of every tee, sporting a slick surface that can complicate even simple putts. To get golfers in shape for the demanding links, Bittersweet’s pro shop and staff of PGA instructors outfit clients with the skills, apparel, and divot-tool implants needed to hunt pins with confidence.