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.
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.
Coyote Run Golf Course’s 18-hole course stretches across 6,478 yards of bentgrass fairways and greens, all manicured to country-club standards, hemmed by pristine waterways and native wetlands. A lighted driving range with both bluegrass and artificial hitting areas hosts practice sessions and pre-round pep talks to nervous 9-irons before players take to the first tee, where shaky swings may succumb to the pressure of an immediate forced carry. Rippling waters loom ominously on 11 holes, placing a high premium on course management, shrewd club selection, and bags that double as flotation devices. A coterie of 54 sand traps peppers the emerald landscape, further complicating course play as clubbers snatch pars and evade bogeys. Alongside the picturesque par 71 rests a three-hole practice course, where aspiring aces will likely find one of Coyote Run’s ace instructors divulging golf wisdom in a variety of lessons.
Coyote Run’s fully stocked pro shop sells apparel and equipment from the game’s top brands, and the onsite Wiley's Grill, open year-round, hosts post-round revelry with a social bar, as well as a newly appointed lodge with a 30-foot fireplace nestled under a rustic, timber ceiling. Golf-simulator sessions enable players to partake in rounds on famous golf courses throughout the year. An outdoor patio provides a sweeping view of the course and a keen vantage point for taking in sunsets.
Course at a Glance:
Founded in 1901 and given a facelift by prolific course architect Donald Ross two decades later, Ravisloe Country Club's 18-hole, par 70 course cleaves through tree-lines and sandtraps for a challenging, 6,321-yard layout. Golfers should spend extra time at the driving range or golf-cart-lifting area to prepare for the round: they'll face the course's most difficult hole at the second tee box. A 535-yard par-five, number two threads a narrow fairway through mounded rough, fairway bunkers, and trees. The same hazards pop up again throughout the layout, which also features water hazards on three holes.
The ancient course is not the only feature that speaks to Ravisloe's rich history. The Club's Spanish Mission-style architecture winds the clock back to the 1920s—when it was constructed—with stucco walls and a roof constructed of adobe shingles.
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.