Tucked away in the wooded enclave of Mokena, Willow Run Golf Course invites duffer duos to linger over its nine holes of mature, tree-lined fairways. Seated behind the wheel of an electronically powered golf steed, golfers can jet from hole to hole, making sure to pop a wheelie in greeting fellow linksmen to ensure proper etiquette. Putter in hand, pairs of golfers can descend on Willow Run's array of demanding holes, with variable yardages ranging from 120 to 520, and scheme their way around multiple sand pits and two ball-hungry water hazards. After taming the 2,930 yards of green-graced canvas and then repeating the 9-hole course to play a full 18, sated sportsmen and women can sashay over to the Willow Run lounge for post-game drinks or stick around for the pro shop's after-hours craft class for making personalized terra-cotta golf tees.
With two 18-hole courses and one 9-hole course under its pristine jurisdiction, Green Garden Country Club binds together 45 distinct holes molded to its naturally undulating terrain. The club’s original 18—known today as the Blue Course—winds through dense woods and over numerous swings in elevation, while its other 18, the Gold Course, holds one of the club’s most celebrated features in the 10th hole’s island green. Meanwhile, the 9-hole Emerald Course, the club’s newest, mixes up the style of play with a Scottish links layout, rewarding accuracy off the tee and steadiness in the face of stiff breezes and upturned kilts.
Though on-course play is subject to the whims of Mother Nature, practice at Green Garden Country Club is a year-round affair. In the warm months, players iron out slices and hooks on the 30-acre driving range and calibrate touch on the 10,000-square-foot putting green. When the weather turns colder, players can haul their sticks to the club’s Golf Dome, where they’ll find 42 hitting stations on two levels and practice greens for perfecting putts, chips, and celebratory backflips.
Odyssey Sweet Spot lets players unwind with cold beverages, sizzling pub fare, and a lineup of crisp HDTVs that funnel sporting events throughout the tavern. As bartenders sling drink specials, Golden Tee 2013 arcade games allow players to enjoy the game of golf while still giving misbehaving 9-irons the silent treatment.
A stable of 14 golf simulators lines the walls of Indoor Golf Links of America’s sleek facility, enveloping an open space that feels more like a lively sports bar than a posh country club. Each simulator occupies its own private stall with an adjacent sitting area and a table, where duffers can tend to succulent burgers, piping-hot pizzas, and drinks from the full-service bar a safe distance from whizzing golf balls and 6-irons that have a reputation for covertly unscrewing saltshakers. The simulators’ immense screens whisk duffers to digital reconstructions of legendary courses, allowing them to brave the coastal crags of Pebble Beach or the charging koala bears of Royal Melbourne Golf Club. Golfers struggling with their pendulous form can improve wrist movements at the foosball table, pinpoint precision during a round of shuffleboard, or live vicariously through the professional athletes broadcast on one of the studio’s 16 big-screen TVs.
The 10 golf courses that comprise Forest Preserve Golf guide players on a tee-to-green tour of the greater Chicagoland area, offering an insightful glimpse into the city’s culture and history. Burnham Woods, for example, takes its name from the legendary architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham, credited with designing the city’s structural layout and its manmade river of mustard. The Chick Evans course is named after the first player to win both the US Open and US Amateur, who would later go on to found the popular Evans Scholarship for caddies. With each course densely forested, golfers walk among the area’s natural wonders, as the Highland Woods course perches upon the highest point in Cook County and the Little Calumet River winds through the River Oaks course. With the exception of the 9-hole Billy Caldwell and Meadowlark courses, all are full-length 18-hole tracks.
Rated 3.5 stars by Golf Digest, Deer Creek challenges links lovers with a picturesque championship course peppered with natural beauty and par-inhibiting hazards. A practice club membership bestows a body of benefits on golfers, including unlimited practice balls on the driving range, helpful for straightening out hooks, evening out slices, and knocking the rust off wrought-iron wedges. Practice club members also enjoy defined hours—after 5:30 p.m. every day and before 7 a.m. on weekdays—during which they can access the club and its green ballways astride a motorized golf buggy for a mere $12. The 18-hole course has four tees for varying skill levels and is rigorously maintained, allowing golfers to lavish between-shot attention on the course's seven scenic lakes, beautiful bent-grass greens, and 55 ball-seducing bunkers. The course is noted for its huge variety of wildflowers, perfect for a taking a calming, post-bogey sniff or presenting a bouquet to a certain special putter. All memberships last until the end of 2011.