Golfsmith's online and in-store showrooms house an almost endless list of golf gear for men, women, and children alike. Clubs, balls, and accessories from brands such as TaylorMade, MacGregor, and Callaway give players precise control over their game, and polos and long-sleeved shirts from Nike and Snake Eyes garb players in course-appropriate attire now that tuxedo T-shirts no longer qualify. Along with the extensive collection of equipment and golf bags, Golfsmith also carries GPS systems to give players a high-tech edge.
Staffed by experienced golfing professionals and computers who’ve sworn allegiance to the three laws of golfing robotics, GolfTEC’s motion sensors and high-speed cameras monitor swings and break down each individual’s form on a high-definition video display. Sensors chirp with approval whenever they detect the perfect stroke or an especially witty golfing joke. GolfTEC’s certified personal coaches will point out flaws and strengths while providing golfers with tips on how to permanently improve their game from tee to green.
Breezes drift east off the Fox River and through the tree lines of Pottawatomie Golf Course, a spectacular layout recognized by Golf World as the No. 15 nine-hole course in America in 2010. The course traces its roots back to 1939, when legendary course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. capitalized on the area's natural splendor to design a course that originally charged golfers a quarter to play and was best conquered by clubs made from stale baguettes.
Recently, the par 35 course has been the subject of a vigorous renovation, including efforts to reshape greens and preserve native habitats for the deer, foxes, and egrets that populate the grounds. These conservation efforts were rewarded in 1997, when Pottawatomie Golf Course became the first nine-hole course recognized as a fully certified sanctuary by Audubon International.
The course's picturesque conditions are on full display at the par-four third hole, where a curving fairway vanishes into the river and golfers must launch approach shots onto a water-surrounded green. After a day of fore-hollering fun, golfers can peruse the pro shop for the latest gear and clubs to replace irons that ran away to chase dreams of one day growing into a cell-phone tower.
Course at a Glance: * Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. * Nine-hole, par 35 course * Length of 3,007 yards from the farthest tees * Course rating of 34.9 from the farthest tees * Slope rating of 122 from the farthest tees * Bent-grass greens, blue-grass fairways * Scorecard
The kinetic whoosh of powerful swings welcomes patrons to Bogies Indoor Golf Club, which fosters year-round golf training with its professional staff, constructive lessons, and Full Swing golf simulators. Guests can defy seasonal conditions with midwinter rounds at 1 of more than 60 virtual courses, which convincingly emulate the coastal gusts of St. Andrews' Old Course, the unforgiving fairways of Pinehurst No. 2, and the displaced sunbathers of Pebble Beach. Outside the immersive realm of the course simulators, plush seating and a gallery of high-definition TVs keep patrons tethered to their cozy reality in a full-service restaurant that keeps appetites at bay.
The 18-hole, par 72 Fox Bend Golf Course spans 6,890 yards of kempt fairways and rolling greens to form a well-maintained grassy monolith that has played host to three Illinois Opens and a 2010 USGA qualifier. Throughout the lush links, mature trees frame short-grass corridors peppered with a total of 34 sand traps and frequent water hazards that complicate each spheroid's passage onto slick, boldly contoured greens. Take a virtual course tour to begin preparing for the 175-yard shot needed to clear the par 3 15th's deep bunker fortifications while still landing the ball on the hole's relatively shallow green. Hone your fairway wood game to set up an eagle putt on Fox Bend's signature par-5 fifth hole, where bold duffers reckon with a watery ravine that sits right in front of the green and subsists on the souls of mishit orbs.
Today's Groupon gets you and a golf buddy 18 holes on the difficult Tamarack Golf Course in Naperville for only $50. Each Groupon is good for two people to play an 18-hole round together, so get a pair and a foursome together to hit the lynx for the price of a 2.6-some (meaning it's up to a 62% discount—weekday rounds are $55, weekends are $65). Golf with friends is the best kind of bonding; there's nothing like being out in the open air, hearing the wind blow through the beautiful old trees lining Tamarack's well-groomed fairways, and refusing to grant your compadres mulligans. The satisfaction of a well-played hole is amplified by one's sadistic enjoyment of your partner's three-shot adventure in the woodsy rough.