Some consider golf a slow sport, perhaps even antiquated. But Golf Nation brings the traditional pastime into the modern age with the most contemporary technology and tools, including true-roll indoor putting and chipping greens. Golfers can also read up on the latest golf-training materials, perfect their game at true-roll indoor putting greens and multiple chipping short game areas; an indoor bunker area made of real sand ideal for green and fairway side shots; or they can venture outside for driving-range practice from heated bays.
With 25,000 square feet of space, Golf Nation also houses a fitness club stocked with quality cardio equipment and extra space for group yoga and spin classes. A caf? and lounge claims the remainder of the space, brimming with the aromas of healthy food and sound of convivial chatter.
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.
Hilldale Golf Club is among the many golf courses around the world designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., one of the most famous and prolific course designers to ever wield a drafting pencil. But while Hilldale is one of hundreds bearing the Jones imprint, it's one of very few in the state of Illinois. Finished in 1970, the 18-hole par 71 layout sprawls across country that once belonged to famous retailer Marshall Field, whose ghost still roams the erstwhile hunting grounds and mischievously kicks balls into the rough. The layout slinks around water hazards that come into play on 13 holes, making shot shaping and club selection the primary concerns for golfers hoping to post a personal-best score.
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.
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.
Old Orchard Country Club came into existence in 1932, when the Wickersham family purchased the land and began to manicure it. Over the decades, the club became such a community staple that the Prospect Heights Park District bought it in 1999, with a promise to provide the same level of country-club service to the general public. The park district's landscapers maintain the golf course's gently rolling, narrow fairways, which shoot and snake between trees and numerous traps. The course features lots of dangerous water, with hazards between the golfer and the hole on at least nine occasions. The ninth hole—a par 5—bends right around the forest, only to reveal a longer stretch of fairway hemmed in by triple water hazards leading to an equally narrow green. The 17th hole also presents a challenge, with the fairway bisected by a wide river, making the safest shot a long drive straight to the green, which sits framed by a pair of sand bunkers.
Course at a Glance: