The golfer addresses the ball at the tee box before taking aim at a target: a green on the other side of a water hazard, a classic forced-carry par three. Though it would not be out of place on any golf course, this particular hole is actually a part of the Chicago Players Club's 26-acre practice complex. In addition to the practice par-three hole, the facility encompasses a sprawling driving range with 55 grass hitting stations, 17 covered and heated hitting bays, and seven target greens. Adjacent to the range, golfers can hone their game around the green at the short game range, which includes 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 instructors. The staff includes decorated PGA pros Mike Mandakas—who started the Chicago Players Club after working at both the elite Olympia Fields and Medinah Country Clubs—and Mike Harrigan, who played in eight Western Open PGA Tournaments and was the Illinois PGA Pro and Teacher of the Year in 1995. 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.