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
With its bare hands, Norris Recreation Center tears through the piecemeal membership and class fees that keep exercisers from traditional gyms, and flings open the doors to its modern facility. A gift from the St. Charles–native Norris family, the nonprofit establishment makes living healthier a viable option. Within its stone walls, five dedicated rooms bustle with the whir of cardio and weight-training equipment, and swimmers careen down the 12 lanes of the 50-meter pool during lessons, lap swims, and open pool time. The squeaks of pivoting sneakers peal off the racquetball court's walls, and twosomes, foursomes, and Billie Jean King's army of clones descend on the four tennis courts, which guests rent by the hour. Members can simmer in the center's saunas or whirlpool, or shuck off tension with a swedish, sport-injury, orthopedic, or deep-tissue massage before showering and retrieving their gym bags from complimentary lockers.
Trained instructors lead 13 free classes throughout the week, with diverse aerobic curricula that include cycling, Zumba, and Pilates. For individualized guidance, personal trainers coach clients out of workout plateaus. As parents work out, childcare professionals engage lads and lasses with interactive games, toys, and movies in the center's nursery, where kids build social skills and imagination while pretending to be heroic astronauts, firefighters, or accountants.
The fleet-footed instructors at Vargo?s Dance impart ballroom-dancing skills to beginning or advanced students in custom private lessons and fun, social group classes. Whether students want to learn a variety of dance styles or just brush up their macarena, each lesson is customized to meet individual goals. Vargo's Dance also holds showcases at various different venues of students performing their routines while guests enjoy dinner and drinks.
Sunlight from floor-to-ceiling windows drenches the spacious studio as dancers sashay across pale hardwood floors. A long, high mirror allows students to check their form and ensure their tutus are on straight as instructors demonstrate techniques.
Between constant pants and grunts, it can be tough to belt a few song lyrics. But at S&L Tri-Cycle Fit Studio, students strive to do just, spinning feverishly while singing into handheld microphones during karaoke cycling class. The musical motif carries over to the studio's other cycling classes, such as pedal parties, whose colored lights, thumping beats, and disco ball recreate the experience of a nightclub without the mean bouncer drawing mustaches on everyone's IDs.
All these unique class concepts sprout from the mind of owner Leslie Grosshauser, who's worked in the fitness industry for more than 25 years. In S&L, Leslie cultivates a place to get fit, have fun, and fulfill a competitive edge while experiencing plenty of variety—a key component to keeping routines fresh.
Playing golf will always be subject to the whims of Mother Nature, but Robinson Golf Academy makes practice possible regardless of weather or season. The academy's climate-controlled facility shields players from precipitation and fervent sales pitches from skywriters inside a golf simulator that closely approximates playing on a real, full-size course. With each swing, the simulator's finely tuned sensors take a multitude of readings that typically aren't possible even on the range, including club head speed, launch angle, and overall distance. Led by a 12-year PGA veteran, lessons in these simulators help students understand all aspects of their golf swing and learn the precise tweaks necessary to unlock their game.